Author: Jeffrey

The Bush Administration’s Mistakes on Climate Change

The Bush Administration’s Mistakes on Climate Change

Editorial: Los Angeles must take politics out of development decisions

It’s an ugly part of the political calendar, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

By Jim Rutenberg

Los Angeles Times

Sunday, April 5, 2013

This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on March 26, 2013.

“What’s happening with the drought is not just a problem for the agriculture industry, for the people who live in California. It’s a problem for the whole nation.”

That was then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking during the nation’s record drought in 2007. It is now a problem for the entire nation. That’s because drought is an issue of economic and environmental justice, and because we have a state and a nation that have failed to make climate change a priority. We have failed to respond to a crisis of grave consequence to generations of people who will be affected by it.

It used to be that any politician — even a governor, as Schwarzenegger was then — who mentioned the environment had a reputation as a fiscal conservative. But the environmental concerns of the Obama administration, from the president on down, have taken precedence over fiscal conservatism for the past four years. And the response to the drought has been to put fiscal conservatives on the same moral path that George W. Bush and his secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, have followed.

The problem is that both of those men made very different mistakes. Both were too big to fail, and both had strong environmental records. The administration’s mistakes were those of an out-of-touch bureaucratic state with more than 700 different departments and agencies to oversee them. The Bush administration failed to develop a national environmental strategy, despite clear evidence of problems before the 2004 election. It couldn’t even manage its own department’s efforts.

But the problems were so severe that they became national questions, forcing the United States to take a position on climate change that was inconsistent with its founding values. This is what brought President Obama to the Oval Office.

There’s been little in the way of an environmental policy in the last four years. But the current government has taken the position of the Bush administration: Climate change is real and man-made. The world must do something about it.


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