The Hightower Report

Doing Something About Global Warming; and Taking Care of Number One at the ATF


DOING SOMETHING ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

Instead of recognizing the obvious – that global warming is fast reaching the tipping point where it becomes irreversible (and disastrous) – the Bushites continue to keep their heads up the tailpipes and smokestacks of the industries pumping out the greenhouse gases that cause the unnatural warming.

So, we're doomed, right?

Not necessarily. While Washington foolishly fiddles, officials at the state level have been springing into action. Unlike the White House, state leaders are up close and personal with the effects of global warming – ranging from declines in the production of some crops to having to plan for rising sea levels along their coastlines. So these officials have gotten serious about restricting the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases coming out of vehicle tailpipes, which is the second-largest (and fastest-growing) source of global warming gases.

California has been in the lead and has now adopted a rule requiring that, 10 years from now, cars and trucks there must have technology in place reducing the emission of these gases by 30%. Oh, scream the auto makers – this will cause marketplace chaos, car sales will cease, the sky will fall!

The industry refuses to support any restriction on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, instead rushing to court to stop the California rule and require that only the federal government can regulate these gases. Of course, that would maintain the status quo of do-nothingism. One environmental lawyer, noting that the whole world is moving to stop such emissions, says: "We are going to become the dumping ground for the dirtiest cars made in the world. China will have more stringent standards than the U.S. in 2010."

Meanwhile, eight states – from Connecticut to Oregon – have also adopted the California rule. To help get your state moving, call the Union of Concerned Scientists at 617/547-5552.


TAKING CARE OF NUMBER ONE AT THE ATF

In his state-of-the-union peroration, George W. instructed members of Congress "to be good stewards of tax dollars."

So I'm sure you'll be glad to hear about the financial stewardship being practiced over at Bush's own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF agents are involved in policing violent crimes here in the homeland, but even though the bureau has enjoyed successive years of budget hikes under Bush, it is having to cut back on such basic needs as replacement cars for field agents and bulletproof vests to protect them.

One reason is that George's director of the ATF, Carl J. Truscott, has been spending agency money for a new headquarters building in downtown Washington. Truscott's 438,000-square-foot building is projected to cost $138.5 million. That's already $19 million over budget, not counting another $75 million for acquiring the site, designing the building, buying furniture, and such.

Indeed, some of the overrun comes from Truscott, for he's ordered some $300,000 worth of extras for his own office, including hardwood floors and a $30,000 conference table. Also, for a man supposedly focused on such matters as terrorist threats to you and me, Truscott spends an inordinate amount of time fussing with the details of furnishing his new place. He and his aides have held many meetings to discuss the color of wall coverings, seating charts for the bureau's top executives, and whether the agency's new gym should have shower curtains or shower doors.

Truscott turns out to be notorious for taking care of number one. For example, he allocates $1 million a year of ATF's budget to provide an extensive security detail for himself, including five full-time agents and two armored SUVs.

If he keeps feathering his own nest while cutting back on field agents ... he might need all that protection.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

global warming, greenhouse gases, Bush Administration, tailpipe emissions, carbon dioxide, Union of Concerned Scientists, George W. Bush, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Carl J. Truscott

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