Share this Post:

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Bush Plans for Enviro Legacy? Really?

    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Related Blog Entries

by Tom Turner:
Climate Denier Parched for Lack of Facts About Drought

Recently, John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama, said that the punishing droughts underway in California and the Colorado River basin are c...

by Doug Pflugh:
Colorado Tackles Rules Governing Oil, Gas

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually...

by Trip Van Noppen:

(The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.) We are ...

Earthjustice on Twitter

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
03 October 2008, 6:00 AM

The headline in an e-newsletter trumpeted: "Bush Plans for Environmental Legacy."  And apparently it wasn't a joke.

Bush is being pressed to protect the largest underwater canyon on Earth and some scattered atolls in the Pacific as national monuments. Bush may think it's OK to protect America's environment as long as it's in the ocean thousand miles away from the mainland.  (Should we ask for a national park in Iraq? He might like that too.)

At the same time, of course, he was pressing a slightly different environmental legacy for the oceans: stripping protection from much of America's coastline from petroleum drilling. And with the help of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, he got what he wanted.

But Bush's more enduring environmental legacy will be on the mainland. A forest of drill rigs sprouting in the West while the protection of roadless forest areas was attacked. The political manipulation of science to undermine endangered species. Eight years of know-nothingism and do-nothingism on global climate change.

And in the last month he's worked to cement his legacy on two issues discussed here before: the (mis)management of millions of acres of potential wilderness in Utah, and opening up the West to oil shale development.

On Utah wilderness, he did what was predicted, rushing to finalize plans for 11 million acres of land owned by all Americans. True to form, the plans dicatate that vast swathes of land holding archeological treasures, stunning redrock wildlands, and important wildlife habitat be open for drilling and criss-crossed by a hundreds of miles of damaging dirt-bike and all-terrain vehicle trails. Conservationists will continue to battle the plans, may sue to overturn them, and may someday win (or convince the next president to rethink them). The damage in the meantime—and over the 10-20 year life of the plans—may be irreversible.

On oil shale development—which could damage lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—members of the House and Senate have been so worried about this land-scraping, water- and energy-sucking technology that they barred Bush from finalizing regulations that could permit hasty development to go forward. To their credit, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, and much of Colorado's congressional delegation have been fighting this nasty technology for years. But last week, Bush apparently told Congress that he'd veto funding the government for the next four months unless the oil shale regulation ban was removed. 

You heard that right. Bush threatened to shut down the U.S. government unless his green legacy could include green-lighting a technology that, for the last forty years, has always been just a few years from being feasible. Livid Colorado legislators may still have some tricks up their sleaves to make sure any oil shale development is done in the most sensitive way possible. But Bush's tough tactics show that he doesn't care about Western worries or the environment.

While there are just 112 days left (but who's counting?) in Bush's presidency, his "legacy" is likely to be a scar on the West that lasts for generations.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <p> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.