This Land Is Our Land

With November 2nd looming on the horizon, the candidates sharpen their image as they run from swing state to swing state, attempting to convince the country that they represent the core American values necessary to lead the country for the next four years. As the debates get underway, we will hear President Bush and Senator Kerry talk about issues such as Medicare, tax-cuts, and especially the War on Terror, and Iraq.

But when searching through current issues, one would be hard-pressed to hear much discussion about the environment. This is certainly an ace that John Kerry has yet to play, with just a little over one month remaining. As Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. so accurately stated in his article Crimes Against Nature, you can make the case that George W. Bush will go down in history as America’s worst environmental president. On President Bush’s website, under the section of Environment and Energy, he states that he has proposed several clean air initiatives that will dramatically improve air quality and public health. His “Clear Skies Initiative,” which is at the top of his environmental to-do list, states that it will reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury by seventy percent and help states meet tough new air quality standards. Yet, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Political organization Environment 2004, the Clear Skies Initiative will increase emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury, and is much more lax than the original Clean Air Act.

Twice as much sulfur dioxide from power plants would be allowed for almost a decade longer. Mr. Bush doesn’t seem to mind that 60,000 people die every year from particle pollution. Furthermore, power plants will be allowed to emit five times as much mercury for a decade longer. Power plants are the single largest producer of mercury, a neurological poison that can cause birth defects in children.

EPA experts currently estimate that sixteen percent of American women of childbearing age have blood mercury levels that are higher than what is considered safe and that their fetuses may encounter the mercury in the womb. This is really a step backward on Mr. Bush’s pro-life point of view. On the other side of the coin, on John Kerry’s website, he talks about reversing the rollbacks of the Clean Air Act, aggressively pursuing action to stop acid rain, and using job programs to reduce mercury emissions. Furthermore, John Kerry will create a new program, “Restoring America’s Waters,” in which he will work with states to restore damaged watersheds, protect wetlands, invest in coastal communities, and protect our oceans. Most importantly, John Kerry is able to link victory in the War on Terror to environmental success.

He knows that we cannot become energy sufficient by drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A clear step towards victory is investing in alternative energy. In February of 2003, he talked about creating a national market for bio-fuels from crops, wood, and waste. He said, “We must forge a new path to create a stronger America, an America where the use of military might is not clouded by our need for oil.” The Bush administration has Gale Norton, Interior Secretary, who concentrates in “changing” scientific statistics. She stated that drilling in the Alaskan Refuge would have no negative impact on wildlife, though a twelve year study by federal biologists clearly states that drilling would have devastating affects on musk oxen, snow geese, and polar bears. Mike Leavitt is the new head of the EPA, appointed by President Bush. While Leavitt was governor of Utah, Utah was tied for last place in its environment enforcement record. “He fired more than seventy scientists employed by state agencies for producing studies that challenged his political agenda,” states Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I always thought that when a person becomes head of a program, it is because that is his area of expertise. Since Leavitt is an expert in environmental degradation, he fits perfectly into President Bush’s agenda. When you study Bush’s environmental policies, you will discover that the administration has attempted on various occasions to pull the wool over our eyes. So, in this next election you also must keep in mind that we are voting for the air we breath, the land that future generations must live on, and the water we drink, and.

I will leave you with a quote from the book of Genesis that I am sure the president has read, “God beholds creation as `very good’ (Genesis 3:1) and commands us to `till and tend the garden’ (Genesis 2:15).” We should expect President Bush to start practicing the moral values that he so often preaches.