What’s the best expression to describe the Bush administration these days? Pig-headed? Stubborn? Incorrigible? Mulish? Headstrong? Dogged? Intractable, Recalcitrant, Rigid? Willful? Indeed, all those adjectives apply to the outgoing (not soon enough) Bush administration, particularly with respect to its environmental activities. A handful of illustrations.
A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles are pollutants that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate. The EPA has refused. More litigation is underway to force action, but if the Supremes can be ignored one wonders what’s the point. Pig-headed, meaning no disrespect to swine.
Up in the Arctic, the administration has missed several self-imposed deadlines to announce its decision whether to protect polar bears. During the delay time, the administration sold leases for oil drilling in the bears’ Chukchi Sea habitat. When Senator Barbara Boxer asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to explain to her committee what was going on, he simply refused to appear. Incorrigible.
When faced with a court order to protect whales and other marine creatures from the effects of sonic testing, President Bush himself issued the Navy a waiver from the pertinent law. Headstrong.
Likewise, when the Department of Homeland Security belatedly realized that its 470-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border could have a few environmental consequences, Secretary Michael Chertoff declared that he would simply ignore all the laws that might have bearing on the situation. Mulish.
And, as a matter of course, the administration has quite explicitly said that it won’t be swayed by public comments—on a rule governing national forest roadless areas, for example, and another concerning snowmobiles in Yellowstone—even when the comments run more than 95 percent in favor of one position or another. Intractable.
Maybe spoiled brats is the better description.