19 October 2005

Blogging v. Logging

Cyberland is a rarefied environment. Here we can bitch and moan about anything that comes to mind without being called on it. (Imagine trying to get away with that at work or in society.) Sometimes we even kid ourselves that what we type on here matters--that our method of venting serves some greater information dissemination purpose. We pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves we've at least gotten the word out. Cyberpundits and deskchair activists make the media go 'round.

I like to think I'm a little more self-aware than that; my readership is probably 20 on average. If I were a newspaper columnist, I'd've been bankrupt before my fourth editorial. But this time I'm hoping for the best this medium has to offer, because I'm reporting on one of the worst events for our national and local environment. I'm willing to put in the time to connect the dots. Please think about them and, if they move you at all, act on that impulse.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 was introduced in the House by Joe Barton (R-TX), and co-sponsored by my favorite whipping boy, Richard Pombo (R-CA) in April. It was passed to the Senate in June, where Pete Domenici (R-NM) did the honors of pushing it through until it was signed by Bush on August 8 and became Public Law No. 109-58.

There are a lot of things wrong with Public Law No. 109-58, and not much right. Let me enumerate:
  • Titles 3, 4 & 8 give new and improved incentives for burning coal, oil and gas and dramatically increase air pollution, all of which will increase the rate of global warming. Virginia is a coal state. Mountaintop removal and strip-mining will increase, and what little air and water quality we have, most of which comes from the formerly-protected Nat'l Forest regions in the western portion, will diminish. Do I have to use Hurricane Katrina to remind you that global warming is a Bad Thing? It appears that the Republicrats learned that global warming rate estimates had seen a slight decrease, and decided to spend this as quickly as Bush is spending his alleged "political capital" since November 2004.

  • Title 2, sec. 231-234 does not restrict the definition of "biomass" to wood waste or renewable resources. This means federal, public and Indian lands are up for grabs should the newly empowered Secretary of the Interior wish to grant a company license to them. Equally damning, there are no designations that protect roadless areas, endangered forests, or critical habitats within the definitions given in this law. This means that a logger who wishes to pave a road into the heart of the once-protected George Washington National Forest in order to cut down rare native and old-growth trees for "biomass fuel" can apply to the Dep't of the Interior and receive permission to do so.

  • Title 3, sec. 321 creates unprecedented authority for the Department of Interior to permit new energy projects in the Outer Continental Shelf without adequate oversight or standards. That means that the fragile and embattled Chesapeake Bay can be drilled and pipelined by a Texas-owned company with a permit from the Bush administration. To back this up, Title 3, sec. 387 limits any say that Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and DC might have in that process by weakening states' abilities to monitor and appeal such projects, as was previously given to them in the Coastal Zone Management Act.

The list could go on. For more details, I urge you to read the law in full. A copy of the Senate version passed on to Bush is still available online at Thomas at the LOC. Go to http://thomas.loc.gov, enter S.10 into the search engine, and make sure to check the 'Enter bill number' radio box below the search query before clicking on the button.

If you live in Virginia, I hope you have been convinced to get active on the state level to make up for this horrendous federal rape of our collectively-held land.

08 October 2005

Public Land Enemies #1 & #2

Attention All Environmentalists!!

It is long past time we recgonized we are beseiged. We are at war. And the opposing general's name is Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA-11th Dist.). His primary field commander is Joseph Gibbons (R-NV-2d Dist.). Take note of these names and suspect everything they introduce or sponsored in the House of Representatives.

Better yet, get yourselves informed. Do a Thomas engine search on the Library of Congress website under their names at http://thomas.loc.gov. Look up the bills they've proposed. Read them. Then fight them. This is the clearest primary directive I can give the environmental community. Do it before they sell our public lands out from under us.

07 October 2005


We pause for this announcement from my Personal Broadcasting Company. A-rotation (in my head or on the computer or on the stereo) for the past 2 weeks consists of:

Radiohead: The Bends
The Killers: Hot Fuss
Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand + the single "Do You Want To"
Jane's Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual
Sisters of Mercy: Floodland
Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
Nirvana: In Utero
Martin Gore: Counterfeit
David Bowie: Heathen

For those of you who know my moods, you know what this means. For those of you who don't, take a guess.

Representing Whom?

I am disturbed. Virgil Goode, my Representative in the House, has co-sponsored the following bill (found on Thomas [http://thomas.loc.gov]):

HR 1070 IH

"Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'."

The way I read that section is that the Supreme Court is not allowed to review or accept any appeal to that court on any matters of separation of Church and State in which a branch of government (e.g., public schools teaching creationism instead of evolution, courts like Moore's in AL which post the 10 commandments, public bodies like Chesterfield Cty. which are sued for prayer discrimination, etc.) is the named defendant.

Does this man have no sense? He represents one of the geographically largest regions in the state and he is sponsoring an unconstitutional law? Has he nothing better that he can do for his constituency? I can think of a number of things he should be putting his time and energy into that have nothing to do with violating the Constution in the name of "restoring" it. Fortunately this law, like all others, will also have to come under review and it will get struck down, even if House, Senate, and Bush all pass it. BTW, there's a similar bill that was introduced in the Senate (S.520), but which is not, fortunately, co-sponsored by John Warner or George Allen. They are obviously much smarter than Virgil Goode, even if they are also Republicans.

03 October 2005

Miers' Thrifty Acres

It's usually a Bad Sign when a narrowly-elected President suffering an all-time popular low, a man who is already in the hot seat for perceived cronyism, nominates his very own favorite White House Counsel to SCOTUS.

Yahoo!: Bush nominates crony insider to Supreme Court