Sunday, October 19, 2008
Dubaya's Last Laugh
Or The Midget's Revenge * Colin Powell's Atonement
The Last Mischief (Editorial,NY Times, Oct 18, 2008)
All presidents indulge in end-of-the-term environmental rule-making, partly to tie up bureaucratic loose ends but mainly to lock in policies that their successor will be hard pressed to reverse.
President Bill Clinton’s midnight regulations were mostly good, including a rule protecting 60 million acres of national forests from road-building and most commercial development. Not surprisingly, most of President Bush’s proposals are not.
Exhibit A is a set of six resource management plans covering 11 million acres of federal land in Utah. They would open millions of acres to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles, risking priceless cultural artifacts and some of the most breathtaking open spaces in America. The plans, each more than 1,000 pages, were dumped on an unsuspecting public in the last few weeks by the Bureau of Land Management.
The bureau claims that it wasn’t trying to pull a fast one and that drafts were available months ago. But the final documents are what count. The public now has only a few short weeks to register objections before the secretary of the interior makes them final.
Why the rush? The agency says it had to wrap things up before it ran out of planning money. What we are really seeing, though, is the last gasp of the Cheney drill-now, drill-everywhere energy strategy; one last favor to the oil and gas drillers and the off-road vehicle enthusiasts before a more conservation-minded president (both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have far better records than Mr. Bush) comes to town.