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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2001

Bush targets energy-sucking ‘vampires’

August 5, 2001

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He yearns to be the world's trustworthy friend.

The Good Humor Man on his first trip to Europe. Mr. Neighborly with Russian Spy-turned-President Vladimir Putin. Good Cop/Bad Cop on the China "favored-nation" carousel.

We've seen many sides of George W. Bush in the whirlwind of the last six months, but the president as vampire slayer?

If there's an intern named Buffy behind this, we'll know the Trilateral Commission's fix is in to pump up Big Oil at our cough, gag, wheeze expense.

But first, to Count Dracula's vampire devices and what America's slaymaster plans to do about this latest threat to our ever-more-expensive Free World.

"One of the ways that our nation wastes energy is through what they call vampire devices," Bush said this week as he signed an executive order requiring energy efficiency at the White House and federal agencies.

Vampire devices?

"These will be a battery charger, cell-phone chargers, computer systems that we really think we're not using energy when plugged in, but, in fact, are," he said, adding, "We expect our agencies to be ridding themselves of the vampires."

He slays us. Stake through the heart of the technogeek.

No more cell-phone chargers sapping the nation's lifeblood. No more government computer systems and their battery chargers sucking up energy while sitting idle. Be gone, you leeches of waste and inefficiency.

W. has decreed it beginning with the White House's one-watt standard.

One-watt standard?

A couple of weeks ago, Bush promised energy-efficient bulbs would replace wasteful ones in every room in the White House. And now he's taking a tough stand in favor of one-watt battery chargers and in the same breath plugging for natural-gas drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge.

Bush promises his "balanced energy plan" can be extracted from this Earth in an "environmentally friendly way."

Great except we really don't need to go there. We could save even more energy than what's under the refuge's frozen arctic tundra by getting auto makers to build fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicles and trucks and by simply turning off the lights when leaving a room.

Bush knows it, too.

He's in a tight spot now that the National Academy of Sciences has studied the nation's energy needs and concluded that fuel-economy guidelines for SUVs can be accomplished producing savings of as much as 42 percent without sacrificing size or performance. Or safety.

Technology already exists to reduce engine friction, which would save gasoline, and the federal government could provide grants to offset some of the costs of the new technology and further the goal of conservation. The academy found that the nation could save enough gas over time to offset the cost of developing the fuel-economy vehicles.

Republican Rep. Dick Armey of Texas doesn't see it that way. Politically, he sees soccer moms in distress, fleeing black helicopters where W. swats down phony vampires.

"If I were a soccer mom, I'd be pretty worried about that," Armey said about any effort to raise the government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for heavy vehicles now set at 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and only 20.7 mpg for SUVs and trucks.

"They all lost their station wagons and now (the government is) fixing to take away their SUVs," Armey lamented. "Many people are going to have to come to terms with fundamental principles of freedom and choice as opposed to government standards."

It's all about freedom, Armey says. Free-dom!

And Bush, in an unintended parody of his enemies' worst impersonation, pushes dim light bulbs and tells us it's all about ridding the White House of vampires. What's next, a national exorcism?

There's enough oil and gas in other parts of the world that America helps protect Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, come to mind so why are we talking about a million acres of a wildlife preserve that the nation already has designated for special protection?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge wasn't designated as such on a whim. It's part of nature's intricate chain and a national environmental treasure.

As one Democratic congressman pointed out, we could dam up the Grand Canyon for hydropower, or try to harness geothermal power from Old Faithful. "But we don't do that," Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts said. "Not because we don't recognize that energy could be produced there. But because we know that some things are too sacred."

A vampire slayer worthy of a great nation knows what's sacred and defends it.

Myriam Marquez is an editorial page columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. Her e-mail address is mmarquez@orlandosentinel.com.

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