President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget takes a few positive steps toward cleaner energy and better stewardship of natural resources, but the proposal also shows that the administration is still clinging to shopworn ideas, Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), a national grassroots organization with elected officials as members, said today.
“We appreciate the president’s proposed increases for cleaner energy development, including wind, solar, ethanol, and advanced batteries for plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles. The administration’s 19 percent increase in biofuels funding will speed the development of cellulosic ethanol and reduce America’s dangerous dependence on oil,” REP Government Affairs Director David Jenkins said.
“At the same time, however, the administration continues to advocate its misbegotten idea to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would perpetuate the nation’s dangerous dependence on oil,” Jenkins said.
“The administration must make up its mind on the nation’s energy future. If the president’s welcome words about economizing, diversifying and cleaning up America’s energy supply are to mean something, the administration must stop pushing rearguard ideas that will weaken energy security, damage our natural heritage, drive up costs, and increase greenhouse gas emissions,” Jenkins said.
“In addition, increased funding for cleaner energy technologies will have limited value unless the administration supports limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The new technologies won’t get a foothold in the energy market until the market sends a signal that dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is no longer free,” Jenkins said.
“A truly conservative energy policy will focus on efficiency and diverse supplies that don’t impose hidden costs on society and on future generations,” Jenkins said.
“On natural resources stewardship, the good news in the proposed budget is a 14 percent increase in funding for national parks, which urgently need the money to hire more rangers and take care of the nation’s crown jewels,” REP Policy Director Jim DiPeso said.
“The bad news is the president proposed only half the money needed to properly care for our national wildlife refuge system. Budgets for the nation’s 545 refuges are so threadbare that tragically, plans have been announced to cut staff and visitor services at the nation’s first wildlife refuge, Pelican Island in Florida, established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903,” DiPeso said. “This is a travesty for our nation’s heritage and a violation of traditional conservative values of stewardship.”
“The budget again proposes selling national forest and BLM lands, a fiscally irresponsible idea that amounts to selling the furniture to pay the light bill. Last year, loud, clear, and bipartisan opposition in Congress and throughout the West killed this poorly conceived proposal. Apparently, the administration has a tin ear and is again trying to sell a piece of shoddy merchandise that few want,” DiPeso said.
“Proposed cuts in funding for the National Landscape Conservation System would leave spectacular Western wilderness areas and monuments vulnerable to vandalism of their archaeological resources and damage from out-of-control off-road vehicle thrill seekers,” DiPeso said.
“Also, we are disturbed by proposals for sharp cuts in proven stewardship programs that help communities and private property owners conserve open space and working forests, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy,” DiPeso said.