Four years ago as the Republican candidate for the White House, George Bush promised a safer, stronger environment. This was part of his “compassionate conservative” pitch. Those familiar with his environmental record in Texas knew better, and told everyone he was lying. But there was a lot of anger toward the Clinton/Gore administration for inadequately protecting the environment. This combination of Bush’s promises and disappointment with Clinton/Gore made the candidates’ environmental differences a blur, come Election Day. The blur is gone.
Two recent releases from the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) must be front-burner issues when confronting all candidates for Congress and the White House. Both involve the war budget that Bush sent to the Congress. This budget clearly shows the sacrifice of domestic needs at the altar of the war and war profiteering by the Bush White House.
U.S. Geological Survey
The Bush budget proposed to cut the USGS budget by 1.9 percent, to $920 million, in fiscal year 2005. This is despite the USGS Coalition’s special pleas to increase the USGS budget, to meet ever growing environmental demands. Intense lobbying by the USGS Coalition of House members forced the House to restore the decrease by 0.75 percent to $944 million. Don’t applaud just yet. It turns out that the House appropriations bill for the Department of Interior, of $9.8 billion, would actually be less than Bush proposed.
National Science Foundation
In the 2002 National Science Foundation Authorization Act, Congress established a path of doubling the NSF’s funding over a period of five years. Bush signed this into law in late 2003. The NCSE has documented the need for Congress to stick to this commitment. Yet, in the budget he sent to the Congress, Bush does not keep this promise of increased funding.
The NSF is the primary source of federal funding for non-medical basic research at colleges and universities. That makes the NSF the major independent funding source that mitigates the power of corporate funded research.
A bipartisan letter has been signed by 157 members of Congress to demand that the Bush White House honor its commitment. (See www.ncseonline.org.)
Environment a key issue
When the Supreme Court installed George Bush as president, among his first acts was taking aim at major international agreements that the Clinton/Gore administration had supported. We quickly learned that his idea of “compassionate” was “compassionate towards corporations.” Chief among these acts was his rejection of the Kyoto Global Warming Agreement. The international community was aghast at the callousness of the newly appointed president in taking this action. It was a good indicator of the trail of broken promises to come.
In the weeks and months to come, the Republican, Madison Avenue public relations machine will be filling the airways and press with photos of Bush apparently supporting the environment. His photos from his manufactured, Madison-Avenue ranch in Texas will be everywhere. It will be up to environmental groups such as NCSE to keep us informed about the truth of the Bush White House.
It will up to the Democratic Party challenger to point out his own excellent environmental record in the U.S. Senate and his environmental plans as president.
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