Monitor archives:
Copyrighted material

Bush State of the Union Ignores Environment

on 2004 State of the Union address
(ENS) WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush did not once mention the environment during his State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress last night. Nor was the environment mentioned in the Democratic response to the President's address given by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

President Bush spent most of his speech on combatting terrorism. Saying that "hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror," the President emphasized that by "bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure."

President Bush lauded the actions of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, "As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends."

And the President assured the world that America "has no ambitions of empire."

But he did not mention global warming.

"The American economy is growing stronger," said President Bush, and asked Congress to make tax cuts passed during his administration permanent.

But he did not mention mad cow disease found in December for the first time in the United States that has closed the borders of 39 countries to American beef.

The President said members of Congress can take pride in "giving our senior citizens prescription drug coverage under Medicare."

But he did not mention clean air and clean water, the essential underpinnings of public health. He did not mention the his administration's rollback or rejection of requirements that power plants limit emissions of mercury, sulfur, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

The President did make mention of energy conservation when he said, "Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run - so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy."

"In two weeks," the President told lawmakers, "I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than four percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years."

When President Bush took office in January 2001, saying he was a fiscal conservative, the country had a surplus after eight years of a Democratic administration under President Bill Clinton.

In the past three years, the $236 billion federal surplus President Bush inherited has turned into a $374.2 billion deficit. Overall spending has risen at least 16 percent since he took office, about eight times more than the two percent average annual inflation rate over the same period.

The Democratic response to the State of the Union speech did not address the state of the environment.

On the military side Representative Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader and a 10 year veteran of the House Intelligence Committee said, "The president led us into the Iraq war on the basis of unproven assertions without evidence. He embraced a radical doctrine of preemptive war unprecedented in our history, and he failed to build a true international coalition."

But she did not mention the use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Carried by the prevailing winds over long distances, depleted uranium particles emit alpha, beta and gamma radiation, some of which have a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years, and pose a long term threat to human health and the environment by contaminating air, soil and water.

"American taxpayers are bearing almost all the cost," of military action, said Pelosi, "a colossal $120 billion and rising. More importantly, American troops are enduring almost all the casualties: tragically, 500 killed and thousands more wounded."

Pelosi said the Bush administration is "failing to meet the challenge" of protecting America, and on the issue of homeland security, "Democrats have a better way."

"One hundred percent of the enriched uranium and other material for weapons of mass destruction must be secured," Pelosi said. "Today, the administration has refused to commit the resources necessary to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists."

"One hundred percent of chemical and nuclear plants in the United States must have high levels of security. Today, the Bush administration has tolerated a much lower standard," she said.

Calling for more spending on communications equipment for "police officers, firefighters and all of our first responders to prevent or respond to a terrorist attack," Pelosi said, "Today, the technology is there but the resources are not."

Senate Democratic Leader Daschle called for "strengthening agriculture in rural America by labeling all food products with their country of origin," but he did not mention the environmental problems caused in the United States by massive waste from animal feeding operations and the spreading of sewage sludge of American fields.

"When I was driving around South Dakota this summer," said Daschle, "I met a nurse in Sioux Falls who has cancer. She told me she couldn't afford the $1,500 a month her drugs cost. "She told me that she was going to die, that she was a lost cause. "But," she said, "we must solve this problem. Don't turn more people into lost causes."

But Senator Daschle did not address the application of cancer causing chemicals in American agricultural operations. He did not mention the pesticide residues in the American food supply. He did not mention that genetically modified American products have been banned in other countries.

Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who won Monday's Iowa primary election, responded to the President's State of the Union address on television last night. Noting that "all of us join in celebrating the accomplishments of our troops," Kerry highlighted the issues that are affecting the everyday lives of average Americans and criticized President Bush for having given in to the powerful special interests in his address.

But Kerry did not mention the environment.

Democratic Presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who is taking his campaign to New Hampshire after finishing third Monday in Iowa, said before the State of the Union address, "What will be most striking tonight is what this President won't discuss: the three million jobs lost under his watch, the 43 million Americans without health insurance, the record level of bankruptcies."

But Dean did not mention the environment.

The Green Party of the United States, left without a Presidential candidate since Ralph Nader, the Green candidate in 2000 announced in late December that he would not seek the Green Party nomination for the upcoming election, urged Americans "to be skeptical of President Bush's list of proposals and claims," in a statement issued Tuesday in advance of the speech.

The real Bush victory, say Greens, has been a massive transfer of wealth and power from the American people over to major corporations, especially Halliburton, Bechtel, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the Carlyle Group and other defense contractors, oil companies, insurance firms and HMOs, and drug manufacturers.

© 2004 Environment News Service and reprinted by special permission

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor January 21, 2004 (

All Rights Reserved.

Contact for permission to use in any format.