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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

better late than never

I knew it forever ago. Now everybody (or at least everybody in Central Pennsylvania) knows. California= right direction. Rest of country = wrong direction. I hate to just post-n-run, but there isn't much I can add to Mr. Bigler's thoughts except "Well said sir."

California, not Bush, has it right on environment
from the Centre Daily Times Opinion column, Tom Bigler

EVERYONE IN this nation owes thanks to the state of California for again attempting to rescue and restore our natural environment.

It was only two years ago when California led the way by enacting legislation that was designed to reduce the amount of tailpipe emissions in the state and resulted in a more economical miles per gallon (mpg) record and fuel consumption. One consequence has been the rising attraction of the hybrid motor vehicle to consumers all across the nation. This combination of an electric battery and the gas-driven motor alone resulted in significant advances in reducing tailpipe emissions and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

In doing so California ran contrary to the federal leaders in Washington. There the president has been slow to believe that there is such a thing as global warming and loathe to act to protect against its consequences, such as more violent weather storms in this country as well as in others. For one small example, historically a five-inch rainfall was considered a deluge in America. But this summer a storm came upon the north coast of Mexico and dumped 18 inches of rain. Wow.

This year California has reinforced its efforts, in one case raising the mandatory fleet mpg level for all vehicles sold in that state. It also mandated a much greater reduction in tailpipe emissions than those permitted by the federal government. At the same time, California adopted tough new standards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturers of electric power. Also the same standards were set for the whole range of enterprises known as the “smokestack industries.”

In doing this, as was the case two years ago, California is running head-on against the administration in Washington. The Bush people have not only refused to toughen the standards for pollution in the air, land and water in their operations, but also reduced the taxes on those industries for merely complying to the existing rules. Worse, even where the existing regulations are maintained on the books, the administration has encouraged watered-down enforcement of anti-pollution efforts.

But, under California’s leadership what the federal government refuses to do, the state governments will do. Notably, five other states have adopted legislation that ties their state operations in this field to those of California. And it is also significant that as a consequence of California’s latest move, it is reported that an increasing number of states -- including Pennsylvania -- are considering following its lead on this issue.

I can remember walking along a stream that emptied into the Clarion River in Pennsylvania in around 1935. I was watching a few of the fish swim down the stream and try to enter the river. Some would just get a brush of the river and try to rush back upstream. Others who successfully entered the river quickly turned over with their bellies facing the surface of the water. They were dead. The reason was because the river was absolutely black, laden with poison. There was not a living thing in its waters. I learned that the black substance came from a tannery a couple of miles upstream. There, when a batch of hides had been converted into leather, the vats were emptied into the river and refilled with fresh chemicals for the next batch.

That blatant abuse of the environment has largely disappeared, thanks to federal laws that previous administrations actually enforced. But during the past five years, the Bush administration has successfully reversed this course.

Of course before we can utterly condemn all industrial operators, think of how many of us throw garbage out of the car window into the roadside or simply over the backyard fence.

Too few of us recognize or appreciate let alone seek to protect and strengthen our natural environment, and yet, it is the natural environment that more than anything else makes life on the planet not only possible but enjoyable.

There is every reason why Pennsylvania should join with all other states in supporting California for its leadership on this issue.

Thanks Mr. Bigler!

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