Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Environment be damned, just keep them dirty foreigners out!

Is this how much we hate our neighbors to the south that we would cut off our nose to spite our face?
The Bush administration will waive more than 30 environmental and land-management laws in order to finish building 470 miles of border fence in the Southwest by the end of the year, officials said yesterday.

The move, permitted under an exemption granted by Congress, will be the most sweeping use of the administration's waiver authority since it started building the fence to curb illegal immigration. It will affect environmentally sensitive areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

In a statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said the agency has no choice but to bypass the standard environment reviews required of the federal government.

"Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation," Chertoff said. "Congress and the American public have been adamant that they want and expect border security. We're serious about delivering it, and these waivers will enable important security projects to keep moving forward. At the same time, we value the need for public input on any potential impact of our border infrastructure plans on the environment -- and we will continue to solicit it."

However, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the administration has exceeded what Congress intended when it granted the department added flexibility under the Real ID Act. "Today's waiver represents an extreme abuse of authority," he said in a statement. "Waiver authority should only be used as a last resort, not simply because the Department has failed to get the job done through the normal process. It was meant to be an exception, not the rule."...

"Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving West," Schlickeisen said in a statement. "Laws ensuring clean water and clean air for us and our children -- dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance -- just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process -- gone. Clearly this is out of control."...
Related: The Great Wall (fence) of America

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

$3.29 / Gallon = $123 Billion Profit

Top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies were pressed Tuesday to explain the soaring fuel prices amid huge industry profits and why they weren’t investing more to develop renewable energy source such as wind and solar.

The executives, peppered with questions from skeptical lawmakers, said they understood that high energy costs are hurting consumers, but deflected blame, arguing that their profits — $123 billion last year — were in line with other industries...

With motorists paying a national average of $3.29 a gallon at the pump and global oil prices remaining above $100 a barrel, the executives were hard pressed by lawmakers to defend their profits.

“The anger level is rising significantly,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., relating what he had heard in his district during the recent two-week congressional recess...

“Our earnings, though high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our industry as well as the huge investment requirements,” said J.S. Simon, Exxon Mobil’s senior vice president...

“These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last year alone,” complained Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

The House last year and again on Feb. 27 approved legislation that would have ended the tax breaks for the oil giants, while using the revenue to support wind, solar and other renewable fuels and incentives for energy conservation. The measure has not passed the Senate.

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