A U.S. environmental group warns that President George W. Bush lacks support for renewable energy.
WASHINGTON, DC – In his first week in power, Bush has warned of a “huge energy crisis” and has threatened to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, says American Rivers. In addition, he has rejected calls to remove dams to save Pacific salmon and is quoted as saying that environmental regulations must be relaxed if they prevent California from having maximum output from power plants. “What will it take for us, as a nation, to get serious about renewable energy and conservation?,” says American Rivers president Rebecca Wodder. “What will it take to get far-sighted leadership from our elected officials that will put us on a path to a sustainable future?” “President Bush has wasted no time in declaring that the ‘energy crisis’ warrants a rollback in environmental regulations,” she warns. “This is hasty, unwise, and unnecessary, and it’s not what the American people voted for on Election Day.” “So far, the Bush administration’s solutions to the short-term energy shortage in California seem to be to dam, dig, drill, and burn our way out,” she explains. “This will not only fail to help those who are now suffering from rolling blackouts, it will endanger the health of our citizens and leave future generations with a legacy of destruction and extinction.” “We must further develop and support alternative technologies, including wind power, fuel cells, and decentralized energy production; and we must aggressively support energy efficiency and conservation programs that will allow us to enjoy a better standard of living while using half of the energy, as people already do in Japan and Europe.” “We don’t have to give up environmental protection for economic progress,” she says. “Instead, we need solutions that are sustainable and forward-thinking. We must ensure that we use best practices and state-of-the-art technologies in our current energy production methods.” “This is the best path out of the current energy shortfall, not slashing environmental protections we’ll need long after this current crisis has passed.” Energy problems in California are the fault of poor management by the utilities and a failed state deregulation scheme, and she says Bush should not try to blame problems on citizens who want their environment protected. Allowing the Snake River to generate electricity would not save the wild salmon on that river, and she adds that evidence indicates the salmon will become extinct if the dam is not breached within five years. “Demand can and will be reduced immediately through conservation,” she adds. “Efficiency measures can follow; we still waste two out of every three energy dollars in this country. And within 2-3 years, new generating plants with pollution-limiting technology will be online to handle future needs. Driving wild salmon into extinction for eternity is not worth a tiny fraction of one percent of our nation’s energy needs, which is all it would take to remove four Snake River dams that are killing salmon, and to operate all the rest of the nation’s hydroelectric dams in an environmentally sound manner.” Wodder also rejects drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying the damage to obtain “a few months’ worth of energy” would not benefit California’s present or future needs for electricity.