What’s so exciting about this expose is that Mr. Kennedy—senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper, and president of Waterkeeper Alliance—advocates an extreme “free-market” position:
“You show me a polluter and I’ll show you a subsidy. I’ll show you a fat cat using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and load his production costs onto the backs of the public.”
— pg. 190
Kennedy starts with a description of the cesspool Texas had become, in 1999 determined to be the worst-polluting state in America. It’s no accident Bush became governor. For one thing, he declared emergency tort reform, making it all but impossible for Texans to bring class action suits against polluters.
Kennedy shows how corporate-privilege think tanks worked to undermine the legitimate popular sentiment for clean air and water. Bush picked Dick Cheney (or Cheney picked himself) to be running mate, to guarantee support of key oil, coal, mining, timber, chemical, pharmaceutical, and agribusiness lobbies, as well as from the Christian right.
Bush-Cheney has held fast against taking action against global warming, insisting the jury is still out. There are basically no scientific skeptics anymore, and opponents of the anthropogenic, fossil-fuel greenhouse-gas theory have thinned to a small band of “industry-funded charlatans whose voices are amplified through the bullhorn of Rush Limbaugh and the shills at the Heritage Foundation.”
The administration has also dumbed down and politicized the EPA, for example, ignoring the health threats of airborne contaminants following 911, thus endangering the health of firefighters, police, construction workers, and residents.
Cheney secretly convened the National Energy Policy Development Group to set the agenda for energy policy in Bushworld. The Republican-sponsored bill that proceeded from NEPD’s report consisted of a cornucopia of subsidies and pollution exemptions to oil, coal, and nuclear industries. RFK, Jr. gives all the gory details.
I want to conclude my review with two particularly disturbing items that Kennedy notes:
- Big Coal is the number one polluter in terms of greenhouse gases, mercury, ozone, dangerous particulates and acid rain. Particularly with the advent of mountain-top removal mining, storage of the slurry waste becomes a huge threat downstream of the earthen dams. Thousands of people will die; Big Coal doesn’t have to clean up the mess, because Big Coal spent tens of millions of dollars to elect Bush-Cheney.
- Improper storage/protection of dangerous chemicals and nuclear waste is a catastrophe that will happen. For example, the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant has two reactors in operation 24 miles north of New York City. It also has large storage pools for spent fuel rods. This facility is essentially unprotected against terrorist attacks, and even a nominal release of radiation would create a Chernobyl-like disaster.
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