April 7, 2006



For the love of nature
by Jim Hightower

When George W announced that he was naming Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho to be his new secretary of the interior, he assured us that, "Dirk has a long and abiding love for nature."

Wow. If Dirk is Bush's idea of someone who loves nature, what would be his idea of someone who hates nature? Apparently, Bush made his judgment based on the fact that he and Kempthorne bonded when they went mountain biking in Idaho last summer. If George had actually looked at Dirk's record... well, it's hard to find much love there.

Take Kempthorne's one term in the U.S. Senate: His record on the 70 environmental votes he cast earned him a near-zero ranking from the League of Conservation Voters. On the other hand, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave him a near-perfect score for voting with big corporate interests. He favored weakening the safe drinking water act, for example, and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil giants.

Dirk took this same industry bias into the Idaho governorship, where he cut the state's environmental budget three times. While the national image of Idaho is one of pristine mountain air and clear running rivers, Kempthorne's seven years at the helm of state has tarnished that image. Idaho's air has gotten dirtier, more rivers have been contaminated and fewer polluters have been inspected.

While other states are making progress against toxic emissions, for example, Idaho is going in the other direction. This small mountain state now emits more toxics than California, which has nearly 30 times the population! Last year, 63 percent of the "significant violators" of pollution laws were not even inspected, much less prosecuted.

Look out nature! Thanks to George W and the polluter lobby, Dirk will now be spreading his "love" nationally. To learn more and to side with nature, call the Sierra Club at 202-547-1141 or go to www.sierraclub.org.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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