Sunday, April 30, 2006

I have recently written here many times about the "New Federalism" trend, with states increasingly forced to take it upon themselves to get things done thanks to the willful absence of leadership from a president who chooses instead to stay ignorant and regressive, who incessantly caters to special interests at the expense of the people.

More examples: Wisconsin and Florida regarding stem cell research.

Additionally, ten states have sued the EPA for its inaction when it comes to regulating emissions:
In the latest legal broadside against the Bush administration's policy on global warming, New York, California and eight other states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for refusing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York, the lead plaintiff, said the agency's refusal "continues a sad course of conduct on the part of the Bush administration and reflects a disregard for science, statute and wise policy."
"This is more of the same — yet another attempt by some states and environmental groups to change U.S. climate policy through litigation," Dan Riedinger, a spokesman at the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group of power companies, said in a statement.
That's because whatever skeletal federal environmental policy that remains is one gutted by the likes of industry lobby groups such as the EEI, and states have no choice but to sue to get the government to act on behalf of citizens. A woefully sad state of affairs led by the Great Divider, not uniter.

Thomas Friedman recently wrote a column about how China's president, Hu Jintao, should've visited California and not our nation's capital. Friedman recognizes BushCo's refusal to take on anything unrelated to war, cutting taxes, aiding corporations, or pacifying the religious right:
It was surely no accident that President Hu made his first stop in the U.S. in Washington State — not Washington, D.C. — to dine with Bill Gates, who gave him the "state dinner" that the Bush White House refused to extend. Why the Bush team was unwilling to host the Chinese president for a state dinner is beyond me. If I owed someone $1 trillion, I'd give him a state dinner. I'd also give him breakfast, lunch and Chinese takeout.

But, more important than the meal, why the rush visit? Are there any two leaders in the world with more to talk about than Presidents Bush and Hu? How about hammering out a joint position on Iran, since the only way that Iran is likely to back down on its nuclear arms program is if China stands up to it? How about forging a joint Manhattan Project on alternative energy between the U.S. and China, or a real plan to get Chinese consumers to spend more and Americans to save more to help balance our trade?
China and California have a lot to talk about. California's air pollution is increasingly made in China, and China's environmental solutions are increasingly made in California.

Here's how: Lately scientists have tracked pollutants from fossil-fuel-burning cars and factories in China all the way over to California, where they are transported via winds. On any given day, particulates in the smog choking big California cities can be traced to dust storms in China, which have been exacerbated by rapid deforestation there. (China is making our cheap goods at a steep environmental price.)

But while the Bush team is in no position to lecture China on the environment, California is. Thanks to the energy efficiency standards that California has imposed on its own power industry, buildings and appliances over the last 30 years — and its increasing reliance on renewable energy sources — California today consumes a little more than half as many kilowatt-hours of energy per capita each year as the rest of America. This has helped California avoid having to build a whole slew of power plants.
We can't tell China not to use so much energy, especially given what energy gluttons Americans are. We can lead only by example. The Bush team, though, can't do that because it won't ask Americans to do anything hard on energy or the environment.

But California can. If China could be persuaded to follow California's model — strong energy standards and supportive government policies to nurture the widespread deployment of clean technologies — everyone could benefit, said Rob Watson, who heads the Natural Resources Defense Council's international energy programs. Imagine if China started making low-cost green appliances and cars the way it does cheap shoes and shirts?

So here's hoping that the next time China's president comes to America, he doesn't even bother to go to Washington, D.C. Why waste the gas? China's business is with America's West Coast foreign policy team, which can offer China's president inspiration, examples and dinner.
China started the trend, look for other national leaders to skip GW and instead meet first with state governors and/or corporate CEOs.

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