Dumbest headline of 2009: “Bush may be giving Obama breathing room to fight global warming”

On the very first day of 2009, the L. A. Times ran a story that already seems a lock to win the year’s dumbest headline award. And dumbest subhead: “Recent moves by lame-duck officials, though frustrating to environmentalists, offer the president-elect time and political cover to deliberately craft rules on emissions, energy lobbyists say.”

Yes, the LAT thinks that accelerating new coal plant construction, greenhouse gas emissions, and the wanton destruction of the planet’s livability will give Obama “breathing room to fight global warming.”

waterboarding-small.jpgYou might just as well argue that waterboarding gives its victims “breathing room” — after all, right after you have been the waterboarded you breath like you have never breathed before, desperately gasping for air.

And that’s what 8 years of Bush have left us (see “Climate Progress Person(s) of the Year“). We are, as the Hadley Center explained last month, desperately fighting to save the planet from “catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100, but now with much less time, much higher global emissions, and a lost decade of inefficient, polluting infrastructure built at a cost of many trillions of dollars — and now on top of that we have a bunch of a last-minute destructive regulations:

[The Bush Administration] barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering the effects of global warming on protected species. And, more broadly, it excluded carbon dioxide from a list of pollutants that the EPA regulates under the Clean Air Act….

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson issued a memo in late December — as part of a review for a proposed coal-fired power plant expansion in Utah — that excludes carbon dioxide from the list of pollutants the government must regulate under the Clean Air Act when approving construction projects.

What a gift that all was to the planet and to the incoming Obama administration.

I’m sure we can all be thankful to the Bush administration for this breathing room. Cough, cough, gasp, gasp.

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9 Responses to Dumbest headline of 2009: “Bush may be giving Obama breathing room to fight global warming”

  1. Wes Rolley says:

    There is a lot of hope riding on the fact that Obama has clout. But he has to know just how much power is resident in the US Senate where Dick “Clean Coal” Durbin is the majority Whip and Robert Byrd is the Dean of the Senate Filibuster. I don’t see how any substantive reduction in our use of coal, or even any move to eliminate mountain top removal mining will get through that roadblock. Add to that the fact that the House Committee on Natural Resources is Chaired by West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall whose agenda for the 111th Congress is concerned with coal and you end up with status quo, not change.

    If Durbin wants to allow the NextGEN pilot plant to be built in Matoon, IL (of course) then let him negotiate the closing of an older, dirty coal fired plant of similar capacity.

    Barack Obama has challenged everyone to be their own instrument of change. He has set the mark very high, so high in fact that the biggest danger he has is to be exposed as a hypocrite. The continued support of the coal industry is one issue where that danger is real.

    Wes Rolley CoChair, EcoAction Committee, Green Party US

  2. John Hollenberg says:

    Glad you caught that story, Joe. I read it a couple of days ago and couldn’t believe this could pass for “news”.

  3. Bob Wright says:

    Maybe they meant to say Obama has lots of room to look good by just restoring enforcement of existing law, even if we don’t make much forward progress. A bookie’s payoff for only finishing second. The new boss looking good can be quite temporary.

  4. Ronald says:

    I didn’t see any mention of the 60 day rule. I read an article some months ago that presidential directives are harder to overturn after 60 days. That’s was why Pres. Bush and staff were trying to get as many of those things done before November 20th, so the next Pres. would have a harder time of it.

    Apparently that’s what happened with many of Pres. Clinton’s last few days directives, they were overturned quite easily. So if Pres. Bush and staff left some of those til just days before they are out of office, they might be easier to overturn.

    All that is just on one article I read about it 2 months ago. I have no idea whether that is true and I didn’t read anything else for confirmation.

  5. Thanks Joe,

    This is a perfect example of the crippling optimistic spin so common in mass media news stories on global warming. Years of blind servitude to high carbon advertisers nourishes tunnel vision view – refusing to see the vast, interconnected nature of the problem.

    Any advertiser-based news media will be disinclined to examine the huge systemic changes necessary for our very survival.

    Instead it feeds a delusion notion that magical engineering or trivial sacrifice will fix it all in a jiffy.

    Too bad. Now more than ever, we need smart, perceptive, responsible news resources.

    No wonder newspapers are failing.

  6. crf says:

    The Administrative procedure act says rules may come into effect no sooner than 30 days after final publication in the federal register. Any rules published less than 30 days before inauguration can be halted by Obama, and they would never come into effect. And Obama can simply issue a new rule suspending Bush’s midnight rules, or any other rule Bush made, if he wants. So these midnight rules might only be in effect for a few months.

    So excessive worrying about any egregious midnight regulations is not too productive. Any company that is betting on Bush’s midnight regulations remaining in effect would be acting very foolishly with its investors’ money.

  7. chris says:

    bush is so bad that i cant see why he is not held accountable for this inaction + the fact he lied to us all in order to go to war in iraq. why is that not happening ? it would put a distinbctive and historical stamp on the seriousness of these kinds of treasons not to be allowed. period.

  8. Thanks Joe,
    I would chalk it up to another attempt to sell newspapers. It sounds so insiderish. It implies that a lot more is going on than actually is. It is really just nonsense. The newspaper promises to let you in on a secret, but there isn’t any secret. By the time you realize that, you have paid for the newspaper. That is another newspaper that I was going to ignore anyway that I now will not waste time reading.
    Remember that a journalism degree doesn’t require the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum or anything else of real substance. So why would you expect real substance in a newspaper that is written by journalism graduates?

  9. Kipp Alpert says:

    When The Shit Hits the Fan:Word up! Fact is right now Obama is so busy cleaning up Bush’s Psychopathic trails, that he doesn’t want to prosecute Cheney YET! He has stopped the building of coal fired plants, and will make the EPA designate coal a pollutant. After Obama does what he needs to do, he is going to get his attorney General to look at the last eight years.
    He needs good faith now, for health and green energies but after that, the Guillotine will drop. George said he wrote the poem,”The road Less Traveled”but couldn’t finish as he ran out of crayons.KIPP