Bush Holds the Opportunity to Create the Largest Marine Reserves in the World

Palmyra Island

In a surprising new development, George Bush and members of his administration have been given the opportunity to oversee one of the largest conservation programs in history.

If launched, the program could protect vast stretches of U.S. territorial waters from fishing, oil exploration and other forms of commercial development. The initiative could also create some of the largest marine reserves in the world — far larger than national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

While the details of the possible initiative are still “under review,” the idea seems to be drawing strong supposrt from those who have typically been very critical of the Bush camp and its policies.

Conservationists say that White House Council on Environmental Quality officials invited a small number of ocean advocates to an unusual, closed-door meeting to discuss the idea last year. The CEQ asked them to help identify potential reserves in waters within the United States’ “exclusive economic zone,” which extends 200 nautical miles out from the mainland and U.S.-owned islands around the world.

The idea, says Jack Sobel, a senior scientist for the Ocean Conservancy, was to highlight areas where President Bush could create “marine monuments” under the Antiquities Act of 1906. It seem s that political conniving may have its uses, because this law gives the president broad powers to protect areas of “historic or scientific interest” without congressional approval.

The groups eventually developed a “wish list” that included about 30 potential marine monuments. They ranged from small reserves in U.S. coastal waters to vast swaths around U.S. territories in the Central Pacific. The candidates stretched “from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Dutch Harbor, Alaska” and beyond, says Jay Nelson of the Washington-based Pew Environment Group.

The final list, which has now been shortened to about 5 by the White House, has not yet been released to the public. However, some of the leading nominees have been identified.

The biggest proposal is the protection of more than 600,000 square miles around a number of small, mostly uninhabited islands in the Central Pacific. The islands — including Palmyra, Howland and Baker — are surrounded by biologically rich coral reefs and are home to huge seabird colonies. If implemented, the reserve would be among the largest in the world and about three times as large as the Hawaiian monument.

Another proposal calls for protecting more than 100,000 square miles of notoriously rough waters around the Northern Mariana Islands, in the Western Pacific. The area includes the 36,000-foot-deep Marianas Trench.

What is most astounding is the possibility of Bush becoming the “Teddy Roosevelt of the Seas,” a title that he would ultimately earn if the programs succeed. A bit late in his career as commander-in-chief, the Bush programs would aim to create a “blue legacy,” most likely to balance out the other rather unfortunate trails that Bush will leave behind when he leaves office in January of next year.

Better late than never, right?

Missing the Point Again: Congress Defies Bush on Oil Reserve, Nothing Solved

The Pelosis and Anderson Cooper

The Pelosis and Anderson Cooper, appreciating the Frozen North.

Many people have never heard of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If you look it up on “Google” you’ll find a few blurry aerial photos and an official explanation of what it is, but not much else. The SPR, which is spaced across several different sites, is America’s “Emergency Plan” when it comes to oil. Four salt-domes in the Gulf Coast play host to America’s back-up supply of oil, a reserve meant for Americans, well, the American government, if ever the emergency need arises.

As of May 07, 2008, the current inventory was 702.0 million barrels (111,610,000 m³). At current market prices ($125 a barrel) the SPR holds over $88 billion worth of petroleum. Each day 70,000 barrels of oil are shipped to the SPR for storage, well, until now.

Despite vigorous complaints about “national security issues” from George W. Bush, Congress voted yesterday, almost unianimously, to suspend the stockpiling of more oil in the SPR until the end of 2008.

President Bush opposes the reserve measure because, he said, limiting supplies to the reserve could have national security consequences in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. He is expected to veto the bill.

Republican leaders in the House said the bill was a good “first step” to addressing gas prices, but used the vote as an opportunity to push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Author’s note: NO!)

Drilling in the refuge could produce a million barrels of oil a day and “reduce gasoline prices by 14 times the price reduction achieved by redirecting oil from the SPR,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri in a letter Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

However, Pelosi argued that more drilling is not the answer, saying drilling on federal lands has increased over the years without affecting gas prices. She also said opening ANWR for drilling would only provide six months of oil — 10 years from now. (Related article)

While we agree with everything that Congress is trying to do with this vote to ease the economic strain of the American people, we still maintain our stance that making it easier for people to afford gas is really the last thing this country needs. Legislation aimed at increasing dependence on oil, funding alternative energy, or rewarding companies who have made an attempt to go green would be a much better use of Congress’ time, and a solution rather than a temporary patch like suspending shipments to SPR.

Bush Continues to Press Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Caribou gonna cut a Bush.

Unsurprisingly, instead of using exorbitently high gas prices as a reason to advocate conservation, dear ol’ Dubya is once again urging congress to allow drilling for more oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This month is the beginning of the birthing season for ANWR caribou, who depend on the area for the perpetuation of their species. Bush’s plan would exploit ANWR for 4 million gallons of gasoline per day, ironically, the same amount that American drivers could save every day if they inflated their vehicle tires to the proper amount. It would take ten years to get the same amount of oil out of the Arctic refuge. SMART plan Mr. President…

We here at Borrowed Earth would like to raise a collective middle finger to the dear old President and shout a resounding “Stay the hell out.” In a polite way, of course…

You Know There’s Really A Problem When…

You know there’s really a problem when this idiot finally decides to admit that there is one.

As if the rest of the nation didn’t already know that global warming was a very real and important problem, today, President Bush is finally admitting that something is wrong.

Revising his stance on global warming, President Bush will propose a new target for stopping the growth of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The radical opponent to the Kyoto Treaty has decided that he is not going to outline a specific proposal, but that he’ll lay out a strategy for “realistic” emission reduction targets he thinks Congress should follow in crafting global warming legislation.

The idiot-in-chief will “speak forcefully” about concerns he has over a possible rush to address the Earth’s warming through a “hodgepodge of regulations” under existing federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. Author’s note: why the hell not? I think, Mr. President that exactly what we need is a “rush to address the Earth’s warming.” Saying that isn’t needed would be like saying “although your mother is having a heart attack, lets not rush her to the hospital, it could be a rash decision.” WHAT?!

While senior Bush administration officials were traveling to Paris, France, this week to join a discussion with other countries about what actions to take on global warming, many foreign negotiators involved in such talks are increasingly looking ahead, knowing that the next administration probably will take the most decisive steps on U.S. climate policy.

Hmm…. I wonder why……