Environment

Enviropatriots, Stand Up!

Elder environmental statesman and Rebublican-turned-Democrat Russell Peterson blasts the environmental record and radical agenda of President George W. Bush.
Russell Peterson was director of the Council on Environmental Quality during the Nixon and Ford administrations, and a former Republican Governor of Delaware. His book, "Patriots, Stand Up! This Land Is Our Land; Fight to Take It Back" (Cedar Tree Publishing), blasts the environmental record of President George W. Bush and accuses the Bush Administration of broadly deceiving the American people – not just about the environment, but about the war in Iraq, terrorism and the economy.

What follows is an excerpt from an interview with Peterson that will air on the environmental newsmagazine 'Earth Focus,' Thursday, July 29 at 7:00 p.m. EST and 10:00 p.m. PST on Link TV.





I was proud to be a Republican. So many of the things I believed in were established with a major role by the Republican Party; of course with bi-partisan efforts with Democrats. But over the years I saw more and more of the far-right Republicans coming aboard with their radical agenda.

At first, there were so few, it didn't make any difference. But now they're running the White House and the Congress and their radical agenda is taking us directly in the opposite of the American way of life that I have learned to love and admire.

I think it's vital that the American people recognize the breadth of this attack. This isn't just a normal political campaign. This is a decision-making process. We have to decide: Are we going to go down that road these far-right Republicans have started us down? Or are we going to revert to our old American way of life, the one that's been developed over many decades?

I firmly believe that the tragedy is happening, and we need to stand up and fight to change it. And to do so, fight with the ballot, use democracy in order to take back America, and in the process, we can demonstrate what true patriotism is. We don't have to be concerned about the right-wingers labeling us un-patriotic. We just need to point out that we are American patriots, and we're going to fight for the American way of life.

One of the reasons why this Administration has, in such a short interval, made so many of these drastic changes is because they are experts at deception. They take programs that are known to be false, present them as true, and do it so effectively that what is false is widely believed as being true. And in effect they're conning the American people.

The pinnacle of this program is when they decided to go to war against Iraq and they used seven reasons for doing it. Now we know all seven were false.

They do a similar thing with the environment, labeling programs like "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" in a way that people think they are pro-environment, when they are just the opposite.

President Bush has the worst grade ever of an American president, from an environmental standpoint. The noted League of Conservation Voters has given him an F. No time do they ever give a President before such a demeaning grade. But that doesn't only apply to the President, that applies to the leadership of the Congress as well. In the last session of the Congress there were 84 Republicans, including all the leaders of the Senate and House, who had a zero rating. They never ever voted for a positive environmental issue.

When I reported to presidents Nixon and Ford I was there in the role of an environmentalist, head of the Council on Environmental Quality. There I saw first-hand the rabid attitude of some of those leaders about environmental issues. It was particularly true of Dick Cheney, who was the Chief of Staff for President Ford when I was reporting to President Ford. I noticed the attitude a number of these people had toward the U.N. Their theme was, we need to marginalize the United Nations.

I have been very proud, and I think Americans overwhelmingly have been very proud, of the development of the United Nations after World War II. It is a community of nations that has together faced many problems, put resources and personnel to work on those problems, and made a lot of progress.

The United States has been a key actor in this; not only deeply involved, but putting up a good chunk of the resources to carry out those activities. We need the United Nations. We cannot solve these world problems by ourselves. And the United Nations needs us. But what have these right-wing characters done in Washington? They have actually said, "The hell with the U.N." and withdrawn from many critical treaties that are worked out after a lot of effort with major roles by U.S. participants.

We certainly have a moral obligation to establish American leadership again in the world environmental movement. And we need to motivate this army of citizens who strongly believe in protecting the environment. One of the problems in turning people on about key environmental issues is that environmental protection deals with the future, it doesn't deal with some immediate things like jobs, for example.

Environmental protection is fundamentally important to all of us, but particularly to our children and to future generations. People have to become so energized that they will stand up and be counted and that they will work to get the right people in office who are going to protect the environment.
Peterson was an Assistant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a former Dupont Company executive, and a former President of the National Audubon Society. He became a Democrat in 1996.
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