Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The declaration of a Bill.

(This is written for Sara Allen's Expert Opinion on Sustainability. She asked a selected panel of bloggers what would be one Bill we would back this year as Green activists. You can read other blogger's responses on the topic on her site this Friday.)

Cap and Trade is old news and at best it only redistributes the burdens of environmental impacts to the poorest of areas while the rich and privileged can buy their way into a cleaner environment for themselves. I think most of the environmental activists and lobbyists these days recognizes the failure of Cap and Trade and have been backing off endorsing its inequities.

We have also set a new vehicle efficiency standard to 60 MPG and that is good news. It seems we are enlightened enough to at least legislate our way into less consumption. Yet I fear that our politicians are still only talking about weaning off foreign dependencies not dependencies on fossil fuel in general.

I would like to see a more robust transportation bill and energy at the federal and local level that encourages efficiency and mass transit that utilizes alternative and renewable methods. The disparities of such initiatives are regionalized, with the Midwest least of caring for such alternatives and continues to build highways and expand vehicle friendly services. Indiana prides on itself for its cars and its coal, but I dream for the day when we have to recognize the long term viability of gas-guzzling SUVs and the ugliness of six lane highways.

But the most pressing issue, and a bill that I would back this year, would be one that increases accountability for the corporations that fracks for natural gas with deadly chemicals, drill for oil from the deep sea, and mining for coal by blowing up mountain tops. Best just more accountability and transparency in general.

Sadly, there is no such bill on the table. Before the Gulf disaster, BP almost got a free pass to drill without question. EPA in PA is at least trying to regulate fracking but they are met with heavy resistance. Recently the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee voted 6-2 against the bill (SB578) sought to ban water quality control permits from being issued for mining that would alter a ridgeline located more than 2,000 feet above sea level. This marks at least the third legislative session where similar legislation has failed.

I often ask why such measures fail. Then I realize that the companies are also the contributors for these politicians to stay in office. There is a lot of back rubbing that goes on in the houses. Asking for environmental and sustainable responsibility will have to come from accountability and full disclosure, but those are meaningless if citizens do not care or are not educated enough to understand the consequences.

So my support is not for any particular bill. I think that will have to be the last step of my political activism. I would rather call your attention to the fundamentals of supporting a bill in a free country such as ours – that each of us take the responsibility to learn and search for what is best for all of us.

I leave you with the words quoted by my dear friend in TX, who also happen to be an immigrant and a fellow medic and served time in Iraq supposedly to protect this great nation:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government," 

I didn't make this up people... Wake up!

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