Saturday, February 05, 2005

Column 21 - Land Sale Ripoff

It’s never a pretty sight when chickens come home to roost. In the presidential election Nevadans had an opportunity to send a message to President Bush regarding his reneging on his promise not to support storing nucular waste at Yucca Mountain. However they may have felt about other issues in the campaign, you would think that the President’s callous disregard for the wishes of almost everyone in the state on this issue would have been enough to keep Nevada residents from voting for him, but no – Nevada went for Bush and now that we have let the President know that he can do as he wishes with Nevada, he has decided to divert millions of dollars from federal land sales in the state to offset the Federal deficit that he created when he spent the surplus he inherited in 2000.

I’ve said before that this president is the worst thing to happen to the environment since Chernobyl, but lest you think this is purely a tree-hugger’s issue, these funds were earmarked for schools and water infrastructure as well as for important environmental uses including environmental improvement projects here at the Lake. And lest you think this is purely an agenda of those crunchy granola Democrats, the bill that set up the land sales was written by Senator Ensign, and the provision that allotted $300 million of the funds generated by the land sales to environmental improvements in Lake Tahoe was co-generated by Senator Ensign and Senator Reid.

Nevada Republicans and right-wingers need to wake up to what they are bringing on themselves when they support this President, the author of such statements as:

“Nuclear power certainly answers a lot of our issues. It certainly answers the environmental issue.” January 12, 2005

“We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.” September 23, 2002

The environment is not a liberal issue or a conservative issue. When the Lake loses clarity it loses it for all of us, and when nuclear waste is stored in our state it does not affect one side and not the other. I’m not talking here about things like global warming which, even as an environmentalist I find to be arguable at best, or about saving the spotted owl, or any of the other issues that anti-environmentalists like to use to ridicule environmentalists’ concerns. I’m talking about nuclear waste, water conservation, air pollution, urban sprawl, and the preservation of our exurban way of life in the state and here at Tahoe. I guess there are people who are for nuclear contamination and air pollution – after all, if people can rationalize smoking they can probably rationalize anything – but I don’t think the majority of us here are for these things. Yet this president has shown a cavalier disregard for environmental concerns.

George Bush took office when this country had one of the biggest budget surpluses we had ever seen, and in short order he put us into one of the biggest deficits ever. Now he proposes to take money that was generated by selling federal lands for the purpose of making up for some of the negative effects of this deficit so that he can fulfill the promise he made in the State of the Union address to cut in half the deficit that he created in the first place.

Both Nevada senators have promised to block this attempt. Let them know you support them in this and in their commitment to Nevada’s environment.

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