Page 11


MOLLY IVINS VRT30c Flaking Democrats, Cockroaching Republicans h, great. The most important thing to happen in politics in years and it has a sexy name like “the nonseverability clause” of the equally sexy-sounding campaign finance reform bill. Try sell ing the passionate importance of that one: “Give me severability or give me death!” While the U.S. Senate lurches toward campaign finance reform, with everything riding on this one obscure provision, we’ve got flaking Democrats Republicans \(to cockroacha Texas political verb stemming from longtime UT coach Darrell Royal’s observation that the trouble with cockroaches isn’t “what they eat and carry off; it’s what glorious demagogue in Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Meanwhile, the administration’s “Back to the Future” approach to everything took a fresh wing when Veep Dick Cheney appeared on television to tout a solution to our energy problems: nuclear power! “If you want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, then you ought to build nuclear power plants, because they don’t emit any.” True. They just have this one small downsidehighly radioactive waste that has a half-life of tens of thousands of years, and no one has figured out a way to dispose of it safely. Mankind produces other garbage, including toxic garbage, that we don’t know how to dispose of or disarm, but nothing that’s this dangerous for this long. We have been proceeding on the cheerful Micawberite theory that “something will turn up,” but you can’t buy insurance on that lb most people, producing increasingly huge piles of radioactive wastewhich have already polluted places like Hanford, Wash.; the Savannah River Site in South Carolina; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Paducah, Ky.just doesn’t seem… smart. The Bush administration is currently considering a plan to cut $400 million from the clean-up funds for recycled uranium sites for nuclear weapons and power while the costs of clean-up are still escalating. If you think we’ve got NIMBY \(not building a new nuke power plant. As our experience in Texas has shown, nukes are not cost-effective; financial disaster is closer to the mark. \(I always thought we could solve the NIMBY problem by building power plants, chemical plants, and such in the backyards of their CEOs and directors. People who explain to you that life involves risk, and that we should all be prepared to face some risks for the greater good, should be required to name which one of their children they want to see exposed to the risk in This oilman-heavy administration is looking for solutions in oil, gas and coalthe extractive industries. That there might be a better way to do it does not seem to register on their radar. Just for starters, the current Harper’s index of useful numbers in the magazine of that name offers: Gallons by which daily U.S. oil consumption would drop if SUVs’ average fuel efficiency increased by 3 mpg: 49,000, 000. Gallons per day that the proposed drilling of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is projected to yield: 42,000,000, Fuel conservation alone, whether by increasing taxes on gasoline or by mov ing forward on the long-delayed fuelefficiency requirements for automobiles, would seem a smarter move than increasing the risk of global warming. In a recent speech, Bush touted: “Our people must read better. They must calculate faster and more accurately. They must understand science more deeply.” Good advice for everyone, including the president. His budget math doesn’t add up. He seems to think that the only way to solve energy problems is by degrading the environment, and let’s not get started on his reading problem. \(I did like his new word, “Hispanically,” thoughI The concept of investing in renewable energy resourcessolar, hydro, steam, windseems not to impinge on our current leadership.Yet it is perfectly feasible and much cheaper than such pets of the extractive industries as mining shale oil. New Zealand, admittedly a land blessed with hydro resources, has invested heavily in renewable energy. It gets 67.9 percent of its total electricity from hydroelectric sources. On another topic entirely, Bill Moyers recently had a stunning documentary on PBS. “Trade Secrets” is based on a mountain of documents from the chemical industry making it appallingly clear that the industry knew the dangers of PCBs, benzene, and other highly toxic products years before they told their own workers or the public. Chemical industry reps promptly complained that they had not been included in the documentary. \(They were on a post-probased on their words. Again, I’d just want them to choose which one of their children they want breathing benzene fumes and standing in PCBs. Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her book with Louis Dubose \(Shrub: The Short But is out in paperback. You may write her at mollyivifi[email protected] . 4/13101 THE TEXAS 0OVER 15