Why beat around the Bush? Surrogate President Dick Cheney is behaving like an oil-guzzling, intellectually irresponsible, anti-environmental oaf.
How else to define one who summarily dismisses the promising advances made in energy conservation while urging the more rapid depletion of fossil fuel resources and construction of nuclear power plants?
Cheney is a mouthpiece for energy companies like Halliburton, his former employer, which paid him $36 million in his last year of brief service as its CEO in a field he previously knew nothing about. But the company, which prospers when new power plants are built, got its money's worth when President Bush added "energy policy czar" to Cheney's extensive White House portfolio, leaving the president ample time to greet Little League teams.
Ever grateful to the oil bigwigs who made him financially whole while lavishly supporting the GOP ticket, Cheney barely took up his new civic responsibility before launching a war on energy conservation. In his words, the commitment to conservation, endorsed by a long line of presidents of both parties, was valuable primarily as therapy for tree-huggers: "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."
Nonsense. Conservation works, and according to the latest government studies–pointedly ignored by Cheney–it could be a major factor in staving off any future energy crisis.
As the New York Times reported in its lead story Sunday, "Scientists at the country's national laboratories have projected enormous energy savings if the government takes aggressive steps to encourage energy conservation in homes, factories, offices, appliances, cars and power plants."
The three-year studies by the five national science laboratories undermine Cheney's shrill insistence that the country must pop for a huge new polluting power plant every week for the next two decades, lest our homes and factories go dark. The studies concluded that a government-led conservation program could cut growth in energy consumption almost in half, using proven technology already tested and in place.
Such technology is already saving energy and money at Cheney's official residence at the Naval Observatory and at President Bush's new ranch in Crawford, Texas. Inexplicably, what's good for them isn't good enough for the rest of the country.
To ignore scientific breakthroughs on energy conservation is to lie to the American people about the dimensions of the problem. This is not leadership; this is fear-mongering that withholds from the American public sound scientific information in order to justify eviscerating conservation policy.