Thursday, November 17, 2011

Obama urged to act now on environment

A dump truck in the tar sands region of Canada. Credit:

Following is an excerpt from an opinion piece published in the New York Times, written by Emory psychologist Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation."

For some time the Obama administration had appeared to be signaling its likely approval of a plan to lay a high-pressure oil pipeline from Canadian tar sands right on top of the main water supply to much of the Midwest. Last week, however, after thousands of protesters — ranging from ranchers and farmers to ordinary Americans concerned about the catastrophic harm that could be done if that pipeline were to leak — surrounded the White House, the administration announced that it was delaying a decision until 2013. ...

The decision to put off a political decision has turned out to be a defining characteristic of this administration. Typically the magic number is 2013, although 2014 and 2020 are popular second-choices. Just two months ago, under heavy lobbying from polluters, the president took both supporters and members of his own administration aback with a decision to override a plan produced by his own Environmental Protection Agency to tighten the lax Bush standards on clean air to prevent toxic smog. The president who had campaigned on restoring the role of science in decision-making overrode the judgment of a unanimous panel of scientists, suggesting that he wanted to “study” the issue further — perhaps until 2013.

Read the whole article in the New York Times.

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