The Selling of an Energy Policy
April 21, 2002
By AL GORE
NASHVILLE — Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the
environmental and energy policies of our government are
completely dominated by a group of current and former oil
and chemical company executives who are trying to dismantle
America's ability to force them to reduce the extremely
dangerous levels of pollution in the earth's atmosphere.
The first step was to withdraw from the agreement reached
in Kyoto to begin limiting worldwide emissions of
greenhouse gases. Then the administration cancelled an
agreement requiring automobile companies to make the leap
to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Other acts of sabotage are taking place behind the scenes.
Just as Enron executives were allowed to interview
candidates for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -
and to veto those they didn't think would approve of
Enron's agenda - ExxonMobil has been allowed to veto the
United States government's selection of who will head the
prestigious scientific panel that monitors global warming.
Dr. Robert Watson, the highly respected leader of the
Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, was blackballed
in a memo to the White House from the nation's largest oil
company. The memo had its effect last Friday, when Dr.
Watson lost his bid for re-election after the
administration threw its weight behind the "let's drag our
feet" candidate, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri of New Delhi, who is
known for his virulent anti-American statements.
Why is this happening?
Because the largest polluters know
their only hope for escaping restrictions lies in promoting
confusion about global warming.
Just as Enron needed auditors who wouldn't blow the whistle
when the company lied about the magnitude of its future
liabilities, the administration needs scientific reviews
that won't sound the alarm on the destruction of the
earth's climate balance.
How long they get away with it depends on how long they can
sow confusion and doubt. But with folks wearing bikinis in
Boston in the middle of April and with the massive melting
of ice at both poles and in nearly every mountain glacier
on earth, public awareness and concern are growing rapidly.
At a time when the world needs enduring leadership from the
United States to rally all nations to join in a concerted
effort to stop global warming, the administration is
working overtime to block any progress whatsoever.
So tomorrow, on this Earth Day, more than ever before, we
need real, forward-thinking leadership and a renewed focus
on the environment. True leadership means ensuring that we
take the necessary steps to leave a cleaner environment for
generations to come - and that means strengthening
Instead, this administration's so-called Clean Skies
initiative actually increases air pollution levels by
allowing more toxic mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur
emissions than does current law. Put simply, on the
environment, this administration has consistently sold out
America's future in return for short-term political gains.
True leadership means guaranteeing our national security
and role as a world leader - and one of the best ways to do
this is by decreasing our dangerous dependence on foreign
oil, so that America cannot be held hostage to oil imports
and tinhorn tyrants like Saddam Hussein. But instead this
administration is now investing less in energy innovation
and conservation and more in corporate subsidies for oil
exploration and extraction and nuclear power.
True leadership means assuring an economy that rewards
innovation and productivity. We can do so by leading the
world in investments in technological innovations that will
result in environment-friendly products like more efficient
cars and renewable energy sources. Such investments would
open up the door for new economic growth. But this
administration is taking only those steps that increase our
addiction to fossil fuels and outdated and inefficient
On all these fronts, this administration has walked away
from the tough choices and has instead chosen to subsidize
the solutions of the past. Instead of leading, it has
attempted to mislead. Instead of sharing a vision with the
people, the administration has given access to special
We can return to the path of progress, on which we value
economic growth that rewards innovation and productivity
and meets the needs of our families and of national
security. We can return to the days of record growth
coupled with record improvement in the air we breathe. We
can return to true leadership on the environment.
We ought to look at the environment as a critical piece of
the nation we will be. I urge Americans to re-engage in a
forward-looking discussion of how to secure our nation's
energy needs while pursuing environmental policies that
will make us safer, more efficient and more respectful
stewards of our planet and our nation's great potential.
Al Gore, vice president from 1993 to 2001, is a professor
at Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University.
"Without judgement, perception would increase a million times" Death, Without Judgement