Saturday, January 17, 2009

Final Days of Damage

Perhaps the real legacy of the Bush Administration will be what Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson called the "sweeping array of 'midnight regulations'" (in an article appositely entitled "Bush's Final F.U."); and it seems as if, as long as there remains a midnight for letting another demon out of the box, the White House is ready with one. The latest of these zingers was reported by Jane Kay, Environment Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle:

The U.S. Interior Department, acting in President Bush's final days in office, proposed on Friday opening up 130 million acres off of California's coast to drilling for oil and natural gas, including areas off Humboldt and Mendocino counties and from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego.

After a hands-off policy for a quarter-century, the administration submitted plans to sell oil and gas leases for most of the U.S. coast, from the Gulf of Maine to Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Coast.

New drilling also was proposed in Alaska's Bristol Bay, one of the nation's most plentiful sources of fish, and the Arctic Ocean.

Kay led with California for the obvious reason; but, as her second paragraph makes clear, there is precious little American coast that will not be affected by a final "rebel yell" of "Drill, baby, drill!" The good news is that any lease or sale of offshore lands for drilling will not happen overnight, which means that, once in office, Barack Obama will be in a position to cancel the entire proposal. Still, the last thing Obama will need on his first day in office is the prospect of having to clean up one more mess. I rather like the way that Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund up it:

What we see today is the political equivalent of a rock star trashing the hotel room right before checkout.

This may turn out to be the best way to summarize the Bush legacy.

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