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Students rally to condemnBush’s environmental record

By Judith ScherrDaily Planet staff
Tuesday May 01, 2001

On the occasion of George Bush’s first 100 days, Students for Climate Protection rallied on the UC Berkeley campus Monday, blasting the president for what they called his “disastrous” environmental policies and vowing to do whatever they can locally to save the planet. 

Speakers condemned Bush for not signing the Kyoto protocol, the international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

“Bush is irresponsibly condemning the planet and its residents to a future of rising temperatures and rising sea level,” says an SCP statement. Greenhouse gasses are the result of human activities, such as driving cars and using aerosols, the statement says, citing information on global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change. The information can be found at 

“The problem with global warming is far worse than the media told us, but the solutions are easier to obtain,” John Harte, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley professor in the Energy and Resources Group told the lunchtime crowd in lower Sproul Plaza that grew to an estimated 250 people. 

Harte condemned Bush for being “on the dole of the oil companies,” and therefore ignoring solutions. “We have the technology to drive automobiles that have zero emissions and we’re not doing it,” he said. 

Beyond the arguments against global warming, current energy practices cause smog and they create a dependence on Middle East oil, he said.  

Councilmember Linda Maio also spoke and touted efforts the city has made by reducing its overall use of energy by 21 percent. Maio pointed out that the newly retrofitted Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center building was engineered so that air conditioning is not necessary and the city’s traffic lights now use a technology that uses less energy than the former signals. 

In a separate interview, Maio said she was disappointed that the city’s new Public Safety Building does not use natural ventilation, which was called for in early plans. (Public Works director Rene Cardinaux said the idea was abandoned because of its $1 million price tag.) Maio thanked the students for approving the EcoPass, the bus pass for which all students pay $18 each semester. Those who take advantage of the pass ride AC Transit without cost. “It’s a model for the nation,” Maio said. 

In the spirit of acting locally to attack a global problem, students have mounted a petition drive. 

“California’s public universities are the single largest energy consumer in the state,” according to the SCP. The group’s petition asks the chancellor to “to conduct a complete environmental audit of the university’s practices and operations,” then to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent by 2004. The petition has been signed by 100 members of the faculty and is circulating among students. It can be found at 

Not everyone condemns George Bush, however. The Berkeley College Republicans say he’s done well during his first 100 days. 

“He’s doing exactly what he said he would do,” said BCR President Robb McFadden, pointing to Bush’s tax cut and education plans. 

As for the environment, McFadden said that Bush was not denying that there are problems. “He’s looking at an alternative to Kyoto,” McFadden said. “He’s taking a realistic and sensible approach,” being sensitive to the environment, while not doing anything extreme that would have an adverse affect on the economy. 

Responding to those who say Bush is in the pocket of the oil companies, McFadden countered that “he is not beholden to special interests.” 

Moreover, in his first 100 days, Bush has shown he can work with people on both sides of the aisle, McFadden said. “He’s set a new tone in Washington.” 

Bush is intent on governing in a straight-forward way, McFadden said. “What you see is what you get.” 

The Berkeley College Republican Web site,, links to Monday’s NBC interview with Vice President Dick Cheney who laid out a framework for a national energy policy, touting increased domestic oil drilling, expanding the natural gas network and using more nuclear power. 

“Whatever our hopes for developing alternative sources of and for conserving energy,” Cheney said, “the reality is that fossil fuels supply virtually 100 percent of our transportation needs and an overwhelming share of our electricity requirements. For years down the road, this will continue to be true.”