White House and the Green Myth
Debra J. Saunders
4/11/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
If President Bush's environmental policies are so threatening to global survival, why weren't the same people squawking that the planet was about to boil over when President Clinton was in office?
When you look at the policies, instead of the rhetoric, Clinton/Gore versus Bush/Cheney are practically identical in the three areas for which Bush has taken the most heat -- Kyoto global warming treaty, old power plant emissions and arsenic in drinking water. Dems have bashed Bush for angering European leaders because he backed away from the Kyoto agreement. Ha. The Clinton administration did as much last year when treaty negotiations with Europeans collapsed over the administration's push for greenhouse-gas credits for forests and farmlands. Where were the Europhiles then?
Yes, Clinton made a green-friendly gesture by signing the Kyoto treaty in 1998. But the administration never expended any political capital on making it valid by presenting the treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
Of course, Clintonia understood that it couldn't get the Senate to ratify Kyoto. Before Vice President Gore left for Japan to negotiate the treaty in 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 for a resolution stating the United States should not accept a treaty that exempted developing nations. Gore negotiated a treaty that did just that.
Which should tell readers that rather than making Bush an Evil Pollution-Hugger and anti-enviro extremist, his position puts him in the middle of the U.S. Senate. Barbra Streisand recently accused Bush of "poisoning our air" because he is not keeping his campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from old power plants.
Shame on Bush -- not for flip-flopping, but for cynically making a promise he had to know he could not keep with natural gas prices spiking. As the president told reporters in March, "(I)n order to meet those (CO2) caps, our nation would have had to have had a lot of natural gas immediately flow into the system, which is impossible. We don't have the infrastructure able to move natural gas." And Bush knew that last fall. Still, it should be noted that Bush reverted to the same standards that were good enough for Clinton and "Earth in the Balance" Gore for almost eight years. Were Clinton and Gore "poisoning our air?"
Ditto the Bush move to rescind Clinton's final-days order to reduce the permissible parts per billion of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10. The New York Times labeled the move as "politically suicide." Then why wasn't it suicidal for Clinton to keep the standard up until the final days of his exit from the White House?
You see, when Dems agree to standards that won't mutilate the economy, pundits hail them as moderates.
There are important differences in other areas. The former president opposed drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bush -- all bow -- supports drilling in the refuge, even if that offends the sensibilities of Bay Area SUV Democrats.
But when you look at the three areas where Bush has taken the most hits -- Kyoto, CO2 and arsenic -- his actions fit right in with Clintonia in terms of policy. Inside the Beltway, if you talk green, you don't have be all that green. If you don't talk green, you better be green all the way.