Well, let’s just see what’s going on in our nation’s capitol – shall we start with the good news, or the bad news? Maybe the good news, since there’s so little of it.
The Good – The Supreme Court upheld the right of companies that conduct Superfund cleanups voluntarily to recover part of their costs from other responsible entities. This preserves one of the basic incentives for companies to do voluntary cleanups without waiting to be ordered, since otherwise no-one would want to incur costs to clean up other people’s messes. This is especially important since Congress eliminated the tax that funded the Superfund program some while back, and this is now how most cleanups get done.
Who would oppose this? The Bush administration – of course. The case in question was one where the federal government shared a portion of the liability, but relied on its contractor to step up and do the cleanup, then denied their claim for compensation on the grounds that no-one should get to recover costs unless they were actually forced by the government to conduct a cleanup. 38 states filed briefs opposing the federal government on this one. Even Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion, could see what a ridiculous stance this is. The government has an estimated liability of 300 billion in Superfund cleanup costs, which could have something to do with it – ya think? Still, one would hope they wouldn’t stiff their own contractors.
Also in the Good category, though not in Washington DC – I can’t help mentioning Google and Intel, who yesterday announced that they are joining in an initiative to make computers more energy-efficient (they currently waste 50% of their energy). Succeeding at this goal is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of eliminating 11 million cars, or closing 20 coal-fired power plants. Awesome idea.
The Bad – Well gee, where should I start. I almost hate to go back to the Bush Administration, because it’s just too easy. Mr. Bush is threatening to veto Congressional legislation designed to lower vehicle emissions, make appliances more energy-efficient, create incentives for inventions that will lower energy use, and various other useful programs, such as ways to make school buses less polluting. Why? Because there is oil-company price-gouging legislation included.
On another topic – The Administration is busy developing a strategy to improve the US’s public image around the world, by focusing on countering terrorist arguments and ideology, and by touting “American” values of human rights, dignity, freedom, and humanitarian aid. If we spent more time actually LIVING UP to these ideals – we wouldn’t need this “strategy.”
The Ugly – Here I really must have Congress and the State Department share this award, sad as I am to see this Democratic Congress contributing to such activities. Our Congress is sending funds to the tune of $30 million to fund opposition groups in Iran – at the same time Condi et al. are over there pointing fingers at Iran for funding the insurgency in Iraq. How on earth do we get away with this stuff? THIS is the problem with our “image.”
And now we’re talking about arming ex-Al Qaeda troops in Iraq because they claim to be disgruntled and will fight on our side instead of theirs. They’re probably laughing all the way back to their arms depot. Haven’t we learned ANYTHING from history?