Environmental Policy Affects
Health, Economy, Security
By Gov. Howard Dean,
October 05, 2004
One of the many things I learned
when I ran for president is that 95 percent of all Americans
want job opportunities, health care coverage, high quality public
education and a foreign policy consistent with American moral
And, there is a fifth area
we also have in common, which has hardly been mentioned at all
during the campaign: our environment. This issue is not just
about state parks and land conservation; it affects our health,
economy and national security.
- As a doctor, health issues
concern me greatly. For example, in 2001 the Bush administration
tried to weaken protections to reduce arsenic in drinking water.
Arsenic can lead to kidney failure and ultimately death.
- In 2002, the Bush administration
announced its "Clear Skies" initiative, an optimistic-sounding
plan that would actually allow dramatically more mercury emissions
into our atmosphere. This is already evident in the food we eat.
For example, nearly every state in America recommends that we
should only consume a certain amount of fish because of the high
mercury levels in their flesh. The long-term damage to our children's
nervous systems is not just a medical expense, it will be a special
education expense as they get older and in some, it's a moral
disgrace. Mercury pollution is preventable by enforcing the Clean
Air Act. We need a president that will enforce, not rollback.
- If President Bush continues
to violate the Clean Air Act, global warming will continue unabated.
Hurricanes like the ones that are barraging Florida will occur
with more frequency. Although the Bush administration cannot
be blamed for the causes of hurricanes, they can be blamed for
failing to act to mitigate them. There is a reasonable linkage
between the increasingly violent weather this decade, and global
- Instead of leading on the
global warming issue by developing new clean technologies and
therefore creating thousands of new jobs, President Bush abandoned
the international Kyoto Protocol and believes he can somehow
stop dependence on foreign oil by drilling in pristine wilderness
- Residents of most states send
billions of dollars out of state and out of the country to provide
oil and electricity. For example, Iowa's energy bill in 2000
was $8.3 billion, most of which is sent outside Iowa. For every
$1 billion worth of energy made inside Iowa, 15,000 20,000
new jobs would be created more than enough to make up for
the jobs lost in Iowa since George Bush became president. This
can be accomplished by using alternative energy sources such
as ethanol, wind and solar power.
- President Bush needs to understand
that America is financing our own attackers by sending money
to the Middle East that could be spent in the U.S. on renewable
energy. Some of that money ends up in terrorist hands and some
ends up financing fundamentalist schools throughout the Islamic
world which teach children to hate Americans, Christians, moderate
Muslims and Jews. Because we have no renewable energy policy,
we are helping to teach the next generation of terrorists and
suicide bombers to hate us.
Environmental policy is not
just about beautiful surroundings. Environmental policy is about
health, national security and jobs. We desperately need a president
who understands that.
Email Howard Dean at
Howard Dean, M.D. and former
governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy
for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially
progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.
Copyright 2004 Howard
All Rights Reserved.
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