Boston, MA -- On Earth Day, The Nation published its survey of the top environmental victories of the past year. It's a list worth celebrating and thinking about. Only one of the victories -- the preservation of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge -- is a classic, Washington-based defensive lobbying outcome. The inside-the-beltway struggle is now punctuated by the news that Americans, of all ideologies, are disgusted with Senator Majority Leader Frist's ploy to use a $100 tax rebate to assuage public outrage over high energy prices and as a bribe to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to drilling. As Senator John Conryn noted, "the conservatives think it is socialist bunk and the liberals think it is conservative trickery."
The remainder of The Nation's list of victories are true state- and city-based victories -- policy changes that move America forward, not just defensive moves that maintain the status quo. One victory is the Governors' embrace of the Apollo Alliance program for a new energy future; another is state leadership in cleaning up mercury pollution. (And additional good news: Progress has continued since The Nation survey ran: add Minnesota to the list of mercury leaders.)
The Nation also cited continuing progress in getting new states to adopt California's clean car standards, as well as the growing number of municipalities that have committed to CO2 reduction programs and thereby become "Cool Cities" (Since the list was published four new Cool Cities have been added, for a current total of 224.)
The Bush Administration, of course, has been trying to go backwards on CO2 pollution and fuel economy. In the latest stunt, the President asked Congress to give him the power to strengthen CAFE standards, when in fact he already has the authority. In a press release, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) said he found it hard to believe "that a President who has claimed the authority to eternally detain prisoners, resort to torture in certain cases, and wiretap American citizens without consulting Congress feels that he needs permission from Congress to mandate that cars be made more fuel efficient!"
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