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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 8/5/2001

ARSENIC. STEM-CELL research. Abstinence. Global warming. Energy.

These are just a few of the issues that President Bush has faced in his young presidency. Several of them are no-brainers, which must be why the president is wrestling with them so.

Arsenic, for example, is a poison. Having it in drinking water is bad. The less the better. Arsenic's link to various cancers is clear, but still the administration pushed for a less-stringent standard until Congress voted the tougher one in place.

President Bush is not wrong to consider the financial cost of the measures that come across his desk in search of a decision. But too often his decision-making is based on cost--and ideology--rather than what is right and good for America and the world.

Energy and global warming are international issues on which the world turns to the United States for leadership
and sound judgment.

The Bush administration is providing neither.

By refusing to participate in the Kyoto climate treaty, a milestone in global cooperation, the United States is saying that saving the world is too expensive. So even though this nation contributes 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, it is unwilling to contribute to a solution.

Bush has said he will offer his own plan, which will probably involve big, big fans to blow that bad pollution right through the ozone hole and out into space.

A sound environmental program begins with a sound energy policy. The administration's plan is simply that more energy is better, no matter what the cost of providing it. Bush wants to drill in Alaska, drill in the Gulf of Mexico, drill on federal land (after the land is cleared of timber, of course). He'd drill on the moon if one of his Texas oil cronies told him it would be cost-effective.

Bush's energy solution is as simple and as wrong as it can be: Get more oil.

Americans consume a lot of energy. Energy consumption has become taken for granted as basic to Americans' quality of life.

But it is Americans' responsibility to manage energy resources carefully and to pursue conservation and alternative sources at every opportunity. This is the message we need to send to the world, not that we should stick a giant straw into the ground and suck out all the oil.


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