Statement of Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder
Brent Blackwelder – 202-222-0727
Dick Bell – 202-222-0742
President Bush says he takes responsibility for the federal government’s poor performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Tonight the American people will have a chance to hear whether the president is ready to match his words with some serious deeds. If he is to lead, the President will have to step on the toes of many of the special interests that have profited for so many years from the “calculated neglect” of poor and minority communities that Hurricane Katrina devastated. And he should tell us what he plans to do about our dangerous dependence on oil.
Here’s a short list of proposals that the American people should be listening for tonight to see if Bush is serious about real change in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast:
1. Will he fund the proposed $14 billion wetlands restoration program?
2. Will he veto any restoration bills larded with pork barrel projects?
3. Will he work with Senators McCain and Feingold on their legislation to reform the Army Corps of Engineers?
4. Will the president support a truly independent commission to investigate the Katrina disaster, like the 9/11 commission, or will he cling to a rankly partisan commission?
5. During the debate over this year’s energy bill, the president opposed a proposal to save one million barrels of oil per day. Will he tell us tonight that he is ready to require sharply higher gas mileage for all new cars, trucks, and SUVs?
6. Or will he continue to embrace the backward-looking proposals from those in his party who mistakenly believe that we can drill our way to energy independence?
7. Will the president acknowledge that research on global warming suggests that as the oceans warm up, hurricanes will increase in intensity, heightening the need to begin reducing greenhouse gases immediately?
8. Since the 1990s, floating casinos have been built directly in harm’s way along the GulfCoast, or on back bays where they destroyed wetlands. During Katrina, these casinos became water-born wrecking balls. Will President Bush announce steps to outlaw these floating casinos?
9. Will the president ask the Congress for legislation ending federal insurance for beachfront property that is damaged in storm after storm, forcing taxpayers to subsidize these luxury homes?
Finally, the president should guarantee the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast that they are meaningfully involved in making decisions about how to restore their world.
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