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[GreenYes] Bush-Cheney Oil Policy on Kyoto, Economically Wrong
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                      Vol. 5, No. 14, April 1, 2001
U.S. President George W. Bush said, "I will not let greenhouse gas reduction harm the economy and jobs of the United States," adding that he, "will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt American workers ... we're now in an energy crisis." Unfortunately, Bush is speaking only about the narrow economies of the oil and coal industries. An oilman himself, George Bush's economy is only the fossil fuel economy. He is not addressing the whole economy of the United States. If he were, he would know that economy and the U.S. insurers are being buffeted by extraordinary weather events related to man-made greenhouse gas-induced climate change. That this is causing a number of major disaster relief draws in the billions of dollars to repair United States homes and industry from each of the extreme weather events. Bush would know that the U.S. is quickly losing competitive advantage to Europe on the development and deployment of energy efficient motors and renewable (non-GHG) energy sources. While Bush protects the old-style fossil fuel economy, he is allowing new economic gains to slip through his fingers for the tens of thousands of jobs that are being created in the new greenhouse gas energy reduction economy. George Bush should disqualify himself from making decisions on the U.S. economy, because of his conflict of interest. He is blinded by the fact that he is an oilman and that his Vice President, Dick Cheney, is an oilman. Fourteen of the 25 largest contributors to Bush political campaigns were from the energy industries. Bush's ability to make proper judgements on the direction of the U.S. economy is compromised.
It is better that he address the whole economy of the United States. If he did, he would know that economy and the U.S. insurers are being buffeted by extraordinary weather events related to man-made greenhouse gas-induced climate change. He would know that this costing the U.S. government, its municipalities and industries across the U.S. tens of billions of dollars in damages. A report by insurers which are members of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Financial Services Initiative, found that global warming will cost the world US $300 billion  a year unless urgent efforts are made to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and the other gases linked with the "greenhouse effect". The economic costs will include:
    o    dam and dyke-building to keep rising sea-level out of coastal cities and farmlands
    o    damages to farmlands and crops resulting from weather extremes created by GHG
    o    diminishment of fresh surface and groundwater drinking supplies in dry areas
    o    forest fire fighting costs, including loss of productive timber forests and loss of
          tourism from burned over areas
    o    reduction of salmon and other coastal fisheries affected by global warming
    o    damage and repair costs to buildings, roads and infrastructure associated with
          extreme weather (cyclones and tornados)
Dr Gerhard Berz, head of Munich Re's Geoscience Research group, said that, "studies have indicated, disturbingly, that climatic changes could trigger worldwide losses totalling many hundreds of billions of dollars per year", adding that, "most countries can expect their losses to range from a few tenths of a per cent to a few per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) each year. See the website of Global Warming Early Warning Signs at .
Focused on protecting the oil industry, George Bush is allowing the U.S. to stagnate in its development of new technologies for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. As a result, the U.S. is losing its competitive advantage in the development of new businesses and new job creation for both the domestic and international market. The international market for greenhouse gas reduction technologies is growing at 20 per cent per annum and is currently estimated at $285 billion per year. The fastest growth is in energy efficient motors, solar photovoltaics, and wind power. Unfortunately for the U.S., and Canada for that matter, is that they have to import windmill motors and windmill blades primarily from Europe, where the technology is much more advanced.  Bush is contributing directly to economic decline and job loss in the areas of the New Economy that are floundering now that he has decided that there is no need to pursue greenhouse gas reduction under Kyoto. To listen to Dr. Michael Porter, the economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), new regulations, new commitments to meeting aggressive targets to better humankind - - such as meeting the Kyoto GHG reduction target. Without a goal, technology is not innovated. Eventually, within fours, after Bush, the U.S. will realize the poor economic decision it has made and will try to catch up with Europe, Japan, even China and Taiwan, in new greenhouse gas reduction technologies. When it does, it will be obliged to purchase the new technologies from the other countries pouring money and job creation into regions outside the U.S. Ultimately, George Bush will have lost billions in economic development and ruined the opportunity to create more than 300,000 jobs by the decision he made to drop Kyoto and support the oil industry. View the U.S. Energy Outlook by the Department of Energy at .
Normally, a healthy economy is a changing economy. Stagnation does not help an economy. Nor does the efforts by those few industry sectors to hang onto the old, in the face of the new, help. The old "Brown Industries" of coal and oil will continue to play an important role in the economy, but they should not set the agenda for the whole economy based strictly on their private interests. Imagine if the typewriter companies were to have controlled the President. Out of self-interest, they would have blocked the entry of computers and wordprocessors for decades - - as long as they could hold onto power. How long will the oil industry hold onto power? It looks like another four years with George Bush. By then the whole economy of the United States will have been driven into a corner by the limited-view, poor-judgement of politicians pushed by the oil lobby. In fact, oil is too valuable to be burned. It is the feed stock for so many important chemicals, plastics, and solvents, required by industry. Convention supplies of high-quality sweet crude oil is finite. Accessible supplies will run out. That is why the United States self-sufficient in providing its own oil in the 1950's and 1960's, can't supply its own needs and must import more than 50 per cent of its demand. See the Climate Action Network website .
The human mind is amazing. It can reason. It can invent. It can solve almost any complex  problem. Polio has been eradicated. Men have been sent to the moon. Huge skyscrapers are built to pierce the clouds and to withstand the shakes of an earthquake. Humans are the smartest animal on earth. Or maybe not. I've always wondered what are the limiting factors that would not allow humans to use their smarts. I've always wondered why smart and great societies collapse - - like Rome, Egypt, and the Maya. Now I think I know. We can only be smart for so long, and then, as a society, we get dumb. Humans can be really dumb - - stupider than elephants or dolphins. We can see something that is wrong for us, and we can't fix it. As a small example, take smoking. I know it is bad for me but I won't quit - - he says. Now George W. Bush and the oil and coal industry have put on the thinking brakes. They have combined in one powerful motion to stop logic and to stop human actions based on logic. They are like lemmings, leading us over the cliff. Many of us stick our heads up out of the madding crowd and see the impending peril. We try to strike reason into the minds of the leaders, but the noise is too loud up front - - the commotion for new oil and coal to burn is too tempting for the leaders to stop and listen. A new direction away from the precipice is not taken. Rational human thought is lost to the lobby of the intrenched. For the first time, I have a sinking feeling that we humans have reached our limit. We have lost rational thought. Or at least, we have lost the ability to turn rational thought into tough action - - the kind that will save the economy and improve society. George Bush embodies the human limit. The most powerful man in the world, cannot, or more accurately, will not, use his logic to make the right decision. And he is supported by those who have much personal income to lose if the United States decides switch tracks and tackle global warming. It is bad decisions like this that has led people to revolt. Take Vietnam, for example. The war was a bad decision. It didn't stop communism. It didn't unify a happy and willing country. It was perpetrated based on a fake boat attack at the "Gulf of Tonkin" described by the generals who had a vested interest in "let their be war." But it resulted in a mass revulsion to the wrong decisions made by our leaders. The same thing will happen with climate change. Expect Europe and the citizens of the United States to revolt against such poor logic, driven by such obvious biases.
Yes, George Bush is right when he predicts that the oil industry may face no-growth and job loss during this economic restructuring. But that is natural in a healthy economy. Change brings about growth in new sectors and losses in other sectors. Resistance to change and attempts to maintain old ways brings economic stagnation and eventual job losses. Look at these economic changes - the mimeograph industry disappeared with the growth of the photocopy industry. The typewriter industry virtually disappeared with the introduction of the computer and word processing. The horse-and-carriage industry disappeared in the early 1900s with the advent of the auto. The fax machine manufacturers are downsizing with the advent of the internet email attachments. Refillable glass bottle manufacturers have had to downsize in the face of the growth of the PET plastic bottle and the canned cola's. Why would it be any different for big oil? The oil industry will have to restructure, even downsize in the face of requirements to reduce fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. Jobs will be lost, yes. However, those jobs and more will be generated by the new industries that are growing out of the GHG reduction industry sector. Does the oil industry have the right to stop this natural economic progression? Probably not. Imagine if the U.S. Association of Typewriter Manufacturers succeeded in convincing the President to stop the innovation and production of computers, just to protect their industry sector. Imagine if the mimeograph manufacturers successfully lobbied the President to stop the development of the photocopying industry. Maybe if those industry sectors had the power and money to finance the President's campaign, he might try and stop the new technologies. But it would not be for the good of the economy. Nor would it be for the good of the society. The difference here, is the oil and coal industries are so much larger, and so much richer, than the typewriter or mimeograph industries. The oil and coal industries have inordinate political clout. They are not going to let go of their positions of supreme suppliers of energy easily. They have a duty to their shareholders and to their executives to fight for the status quo, even if it is bad for the economy. What is disturbing is that the oil industry has placed their men (Bush and Cheney) at the head of the largest (economically) and most powerful country in the world, the United States. The fact is, that the remaining conventional finite supplies of sweet crude oil is crucial for feedstock for the modern chemical, plastics and solvents industries. Oil is too valuable to burn. It should not be viewed as a fuel. Oil will be needed for the next several generations as a raw material for modern materials. The change from treating oil as an apparent "unlimited" fuel supply, to a limited and valuable feedstock will initially cause substantial job dislocation and energy production shift. The change is worth it. If President Bush and Vice President Cheney succeed in blocking the change, they will cause irreparable harm to the use economy.
While George Bush flat out admitted that the U.S. will not meet the Kyoto Protocol, Canada's Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, has not said a word. However, he too, knows that Canada, will not meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 per cent from the 1990 year baseline by the year 2012. In fact, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have been going up - - fast, almost 26 per cent since 1990. Canada's carbon dioxide emission are expected go up even faster as it uses massive amounts of energy to extract low-grade oil from the Alberta tar sands. Ever since Canada handed off environmental protection to the provinces with the ill-fated "Harmonization Agreement" in January 29, 1998, heavy energy producers like Alberta, and heavy energy users like Ontario, have warned the Canadian government to lay off Kyoto. The provinces have no intention of meeting Kyoto. And the federal government has no power to force them to comply. Canada has been a member of the "Juice Cans" nations, which stands for Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Australia (named after - J US Can Aus - Juice Cans). This negotiation group over the past six years has been trying to go slow on Kyoto and attempts to actually reduce the use of oil, coal, and natural gas, and the concomitant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. While Europe and the island nations have been pushing hard to reduce GHG emissions, the Juice Cans nations have been pushing in the opposite direction. The latest ploy by Canada, the U.S. and Australia is to equate tree planting and the absorption of CO2 in the tree farms to reducing actual CO2 emissions from their power plants. While Europe said okay, Europe wanted to ensure that a percentage of the CO2 reduction was actually from cutting the use of fossil fuels. What Europe didn't want to see was a wholesale push to plant trees as carbon sinks and then have the offending nations such as the U.S. and Canada, increase their CO2 production. As a result of Canada's position on this matter, you will not see it being too hard on George W. Bush. And you will see Canada hiding behind the U.S. skirts, saying that it can't get out ahead of the U.S. position. This is a far cry from the old days, when in 1983, under then Environment Minister, Charles Caccia, Canada got way out ahead of the U.S. on acid gas emissions reductions, when it called for a unilateral cut of sulphur dioxide emissions of 33 percent. You will see that David Anderson, Canada's current Environment Minister, even though he wants to move strongly on climate change, will have his hands tied by Ottawa and the provinces. Visit Canada's climate change website .
The U.S. has been, and continues to be, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. As these gases reach the atmosphere and swirl around the globe, the impacts begin to take effect worldwide. The latest is Pakistan. Now in a three-year drought, Pakistan running low on water for drinking and agriculture. The majority of Pakistan's 141.5 million people do not have access to potable water and freshwater for farming. The drought has exacerbated water sharing problems with India, and has caused water conflicts with India over the diversion of water from the Indus River which they jointly share. In a bizarre and desperate move, Pakistan is considering new and unorthodox ways of using water. Pakistan is looking into melting glaciers to ease the country's water shortage. The proposal involves melting part of the glaciers in northern Pakistan by spraying on charcoal, which raises the temperature of the ice until it turns into water and runs off. Secondly, Pakistan is involved in a experiment to use salty water to grow salt-resistant food crops. Under an agreement signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), the Pakistan government will cultivate crops, trees and fodder grass on 5,000 acres of saline and waterlogged land. The IAEA is conducting an inter-regional Model Project in eight countries, including Pakistan, to demonstrate that economic use can be made of salt affected barren land using saline groundwater and salt tolerant plants chosen to meet local needs. The other countries taking part in the Model Project are Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Myanmar. The IAEA believes that by using nuclear techniques, bio-saline agriculture can make productive and economic use of two wasted resources - saline land and saline groundwater - at a time of alarming forecasts for the availability of freshwater worldwide. Integral to the nuclear techniques are neutron moisture gauges. According to the IAEA, irrigation can be better managed using neutron moisture gauges because only needed amounts of irrigation are applied and salt accumulation can be controlled. Under normal conditions, up to 40 percent of water used in irrigation can be lost to seepage. This has the effect of raising the groundwater table and bringing salts to the soil by capilliary action. Evaporation of the water leaves the salt on the surface. Stable and radioisotopic analysis of groundwater can provide information about the quality and quantity of its recharge, and the sustainability of its use. Other isotopes can be used to "label" plants by tracing the pathways of elements such as carbon and nitrogen, which circulate from the atmosphere to plants to soil and again into the atmosphere.  Source, "Pakistan to Use Nuclear Technology in Drought Crisis", Environment News Service (ENS), Islamabad, Pakistan, March 30, 2001. See the full story at .
Cutler J. Cleveland and Robert K. Kaufmann have written an analysis entitled, "Why the Bush Oil (Energy) Policy Will Fail." The authors are Professors in the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and the Department of Geography at Boston University. The write that the gap between consumption and domestic production is more than 50 percent of total oil consumption. And by 2020 the United States will have to import more than 65 percent of its oil from outside sources.  To close the 'oil supply gap' the President will promote the development of domestic resources of oil and natural gas. It won't work, the authors say. They state that this policy will collide with the realities of the state of depletion of the domestic oil resource base in the U.S., and with the economics of the international oil market, and the ecology of some the planet's most important ecosystems.  The policies will fail to improve U.S. energy security or reduce OPEC's market control, plus the policy will damage the U.S. economy and the environment in significant ways. The professors state that, "the Bush oil policy is built on a foundation of myths about the U.S. energy situation." Myth #1:  Oil from ANWR will reduce our vulnerability to OPEC decisions. The Administration correctly notes that Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska lies above the most promising oil prospect in the nation.  But how much oil is there?  The amount recoverable with existing technology is 7.7 billion barrels.  The economically recoverable amount-that recoverable at $20.00 per barrel-is estimated to be about 3 billion barrels. The technically recoverable oil is the equivalent of 390 days of supply at our current rates of use;  the economically recoverable oil is just 152 days of supply. To what extent can ANWR reduce our reliance on oil imports and diminish OPEC's ability to manipulate oil prices?  The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects world oil production in 2020 to be 112 million billion barrels per day.  If we decide to develop ANWR today, the EIA projects that by 2020 it could supply 1.4 million barrels per day. This amounts to about 1 percent of global oil supply. You can read their full article at the website
Cutler J. Cleveland and Robert K. Kaufmann wrote in their analysis, "Why the Bush Oil (Energy) Policy Will Fail," about MYTH #2: They state that "fostering domestic production will be good for the U.S. economy. Isn't it always better to develop domestic resources of oil and have the economic benefits accrue to the U.S. rather than to the Saudis?  Economics 101 teaches us that trade benefits importing nations when the imported good is less costly than the domestic alternative.  Because domestic oil sources are more costly to produce than overseas alternatives, tax relief and other incentives to encourage exploration and development will hurt the economy in the same way they did 20 years ago when the oil prices shocks produced record rates of drilling.  Between 1973 and 1980, the total footage of wells drilled increased three fold and the fraction of new capital investment in the US economy going to the oil industry increased from 2 to 7 percent. What did the nation get in return? During this same period, US production declined 7 percent and the oil industry's share of GDP declined from 4 to 2 percent. The gap between investment and production totalled more than 100 billion dollars from 1975 to 1987.  Common sense economics clearly indicates that the huge diversion of income would have produced greater economic benefits had it been invested elsewhere in the economy. The reason for the poor performance of the US oil industry is simple:  the domestic oil resource base is depleted to the point that large investments in drilling cannot generate a commensurate increase in oil supply. The reason for the mismatch between investment and return on investment is simple:  the domestic oil resource base is depleted to the extent that large investments in drilling cannot generate a commensurate increase in oil supply."
They add that, "the Bush energy plan calls for tax relief for an industry that already receives huge tax subsidies and corporate welfare from the government. Estimates of current government subsides to the oil industry range from US$2 billion to $88 billion per year.  These studies assess obvious subsidies such as the percentage depletion allowance for the oil and gas industry and tax deferrals on enhanced oil recovery. The upper end of this range include the cost of maintaining a military presence in the Persian Gulf to insure a secure flow of oil from the Middle East, the cost of maintaining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve here in the U.S., and environmental  externalities associated with oil production and use. These massive subsidies distort market signals,  producing a misallocation of investment in energy markets, and they discriminate against renewable energy technologies such as wind and photovoltaic power.  Finally, subsidies corrupt the very market mechanism that President Bush and Interior Secretary Norton argue should help guide our energy and environmental policies."
The authors write that, "it should not surprise us that the Bush oil plan would shower the energy industry in an additional $20 billion dollars of tax breaks.  But in this case what is good for big oil is not good for the nation.  The Bush plan would disturb one of the last great wildernesses on the planet for a flow of oil that will not significantly reduce our import dependence, will not tilt the world oil market in favour of U.S. consumers, and in the process actually will harm the economy." You can read their full article at the website
On March 20, 2001, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman announced that the George W. Bush administration will withdraw the revised arsenic standard for drinking water issued by the outgoing Bill Clinton administration in January 2001. The current U.S. arsenic- in-drinking-water standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb) was set in 1942, before health officials knew that arsenic causes cancer. The proposed rule would have lowered the acceptable arsenic level to 10 ppb,  the same international standard adopted several years ago by the World Health Organization and the European Union. The National Academy of Sciences has determined that arsenic in water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems. Drinking water at the current arsenic standard could easily result in a total cancer risk of one in 100 -- about 10,000 times higher than the risk the EPA would allow for carcinogens in food. Arsenic also harms the central nervous system and heart. In conjunction with withdrawing the lower standard, the EPA most likely will be required to provide an opportunity for public comment but, so far, no comment period has been announced. We'll let you know soon about sending official comments to the EPA; in the meantime, however, please fire off a message to Administrator Whitman expressing your displeasure with her decision. Contact Christie Whitman, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460, ph.  202-564-4700, fax  202-501-1450, Email: For background information on arsenic in Drinking Water go to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) website at
Robert Sussman, a Washington attorney who served a short stint as deputy EPA administrator under Democrat Carol Browner, said that there are a host of problems that stem from the implementation of the EPA's New Source Review (NSR) initiative. The NSR initiative, a component of the federal Clean Air Act, requires industrial facilities to undergo an emissions permitting review before adding or modifying certain types of equipment. Though the initiative was designed to exempt facilities undergoing routine repair and maintenance activities, critics say it has unfairly forced some companies to pay millions of dollars in unwarranted environmental compliance costs. The EPA's New Source Review initiative has forced some power plants to spend millions on new pollution control measures. Some critics charge that the initiative has been administered unfairly Sussman said that the NSR initiative, which has tripped up a handful of companies in the petroleum refining and power manufacturing industries, raises "serious questions of fair notice and equity." "The companies involved are agreeing to achieve emissions reductions which go well beyond current legal requirements, therefore raising the bar very substantially for the rest of the industry," Sussman said. "There's a legitimate question here whether massive emissions controls of this type - whatever their environmental benefits may be - should be pursued ... through enforcement action against individual companies," There are 40 to 50 other cases "already in the pipeline" where the EPA "is going to be able to allege the very same violations ... as the enforcement actions that have already been filed." If the Bush administration pursues those cases in the courts, it could open the floodgates and exacerbate an already flawed situation, Sussman said. On the other hand, not litigating would raise "significant issues of fairness" for the companies that have already been forced to spend millions of dollars to come into "compliance," Sussman added. "There are very difficult choices there," Sussman said. "Either way, EPA faces some very difficult choices." And compounding those choices are the "volatile politics" and the "high emotion" surrounding the cases that have already been settled or filed, Sussman said. Environmental advocacy groups, Sussman said, are "not going to roll over and stand by and allow EPA and the Justice Department to dismiss cases which have already been filed." Source, "Enforcement Changes on Tap for Bush's EPA." by Brian Hansen, Environment News Service (ENS), Washington, D.C., February 13, 2001. See the full story at .
A business approach to managing the environment that uses terms "performance-based" and "market-driven" won the backing of two senior Republicans and a Democrat who help steer natural resources policy. In an 18-page document described as a nonpartisan blueprint for lawmakers, the Business Roundtable laid out a program for "constructive changes in our environmental protection system." The group, which comprises chief executives of large companies, said free trade and environmental flexibility should be emphasized. The document also recommended that lawmakers help shift regulatory controls away from the Environmental Protection Agency and toward the states along with voluntary self-auditing, approaches that have been endorsed by new EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, New Jersey's former governor. Other goals include a "better alignment of energy and environmental policies" and an overall climate of fewer regulations on businesses in order to reduce barriers on developing new technology. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Bob Smith, R-N.H., described the group's approach as serious and thoughtful. "Our goal is to ensure a clean environment in harmony with a strong economy," he said. "By embracing innovation in the private sector, coupled with cooperation and not confrontation, we can achieve the environmental goals we set forward to accomplish." Industry leaders were represented by Earnest W. Deavenport Jr., chairman and CEO of Eastman Chemical Co.; Fred Webber, president of the American Chemistry Council; and American Forest and Paper Association President Henson Moore. Ben Beach, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society, said some industries seem to think "the Bush administration is going to get the gravy train up and running." Source, "Lawmakers Back Business Approach", by John Heilprin, Associated Press, Washington, D.C., February 8, 2001. See the Business Roundtable blueprint at the website .
For the past three years, the oil and gas industry has been pushing to open up nearly 370,000 acres of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, to oil and gas development. However, the Forest Service has proposed setting aside that land because of its outstanding wildlife and recreation values. The Bridger-Teton National Forest, bordering Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming, is world famous for its blue ribbon trout streams winding through lush valleys, complete with vast herds of elk.  These lands are home to some of the rarest and most vulnerable animals in the lower 48 states, including grizzly bear, gray wolf, and Canada lynx. In a recent far-sighted move, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed putting one of the last unprotected wild places on the Bridger-Teton, covering 370,000 acres, off limits to oil and gas industrialization. The public overwhelmingly supports this proposal, known as the "No Lease" alternative in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Oil and Gas Development. In fact, 98% of the more than 2,500 comments received during the "scoping" phase of this process supported the "No Lease" alternative. For the last three years, the oil and gas industry has been fighting hard to open up those lands, larger than neighboring Grand Teton National Park, to oil and gas development. Drill rigs, accompanied by a maze of roads and power lines, already have fractured many of the last best places in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Now, emboldened by allies in the new George W. Bush administration, the oil industry is working harder than ever to reverse this proposal.  The oil and gas industry is putting immense pressure on Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) to actively oppose the proposal, a role he has chosen not to take in the past. For more information contact, Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Attn: Oil & Gas DEIS, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, Wyoming 83001, email . You may also contact, Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510, fax (202) 224-1724, email . Also see the Bridger-Teton National Forest website at
The European Union's sixth Environmental Action Programme has been issued by European Commission's  Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom. This issue is the first to include input from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. The Environment Programme is meant to shape EU environmental policy until 2010, by which time many central and eastern European countries will likely become members of the EU. The programme, which goes to the European Parliament for approval, was criticised by environmentalists as not being strong enough, especially in areas like regulation of toxic chemicals, according to reports. The sixth Environmental Action Plan is online at the website .
Canada and the United States avoid the implementation of green taxes and environmental economic instruments like the plague. Yet the European Commission has shown strong support for a group of at least eight European Union (EU) member states harmonising tax levels in an attempt to make their economies more "green", said EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. The Swedish commissioner said there was strong support within the EU executive for "enhanced cooperation" - allowing a group of states move to integrate policies faster than others - on environmental taxes. "As I understand from our discussions...this has strong support in the Commission and I will continue to examine the possibilities of doing it," she said, adding supporters of the idea included Tax Commissioner Fritz Bolkestein. The idea was first suggested by Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm 1999 when EU governments failed to reach the unanimity required to harmonise a raft of energy taxes. The concept of more enhanced cooperation was enshrined in the Nice Treaty agreed by EU leaders at the end of last year where the veto on tax measures was retained. The Commissioners is expected to issue a formal tax policy paper in June 2001. Wallstrom said some governments that have not been willing to yield their sovereignty over tax measures would be willing to cooperate on environmental tax harmonisation. "I think that some of the member states opposed to extending community decisions to taxes are willing to accept it in the field of environment...because they understand we will need stronger clearer instruments in order to achieve results on environmental issues such as climate change," she said. Wallstrom considers taxation as a crucial tool for persuading industry and consumers to save energy and adopt less environmentally harmful consumption and production habits. A plan to harmonise minimum taxes on most energy products, proposed by the Commission in 1997, has yet to be adopted, despite a majority of governments being in favour, mostly because of opposition from Spain. Source, Robin Pomeroy, Reuters News Service. See the full story at
                                       Copyright (c) 2001
                        Canadian Institute for Business and the
                           Environment, Montreal & Toronto
                                     All rights reserved.


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