Rep. Blumenauer talks environment

U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and feature speaker Mark Udall, D-Colo., held an environmental town hall at Portland State Tuesday.

Blumenauer began the event by addressing President Bush’s tax cut policy. He said the figures on the budget are ambiguous, but ironically the details on the budget were released shortly after he left Washington, D.C. for Oregon.

Blumenauer was appalled with the recent proposal from the new administration to reduce funding to help the former Soviet Union deal with the nuclear dilemma, such as helping them control inventory, protect their stockpile and cleanup waste.”But there’s a hundred million being slashed from an inadequate budget in order to make more head room to be able to provide tax cuts for people who are the least in need of a tax cut than anyone in the world,” Blumenauer said. “We’re going to roll the dice on that, but we won’t spend a hundred million dollars trying to deal with a nuclear threat that is with us right now.”

Both congressmen disagreed with the Bush administration’s handling of environmental issues, which they said are not supported by a majority of the American public. In addition, the new administration is offsetting the Clinton administration’s environmental policies.

These moves included changing the arsenic standard in drinking water, reversing cleanup regulations and carbon dioxide emissions by pulling out of the Kyoto accord, delaying the implementation of roadless areas protection and proposing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The United States uses twice as much energy as Germany and Japan and six times as much energy as the rest of the world, yet we haven’t settled upon solutions to conserve energy like seeking a modest increase in automobile gas efficiency, Blumenauer said.

“It’s a puzzle to me the Bush administration seems to think that it’s not manly to conserve,” Udall said.

Udall said that almost every war in the world is associated with energy and fuel conflicts and urged that Americans think about energy conservation.

Udall admired Oregon’s environment and looked at it as a model for “brown” Colorado.

“I’m here to look at what you’ve done successfully,” Udall said. “I’m here to understand what you’re doing.”

Udall said he’s working hard to create more wilderness areas and wildlife refuges and promote water conservation in Colorado. He’s trying to get federal funds to assist him with these projects.

Congress is able to allocate about $100 to $200 million of the $4 billion rate over the last 25 years to purchase open spaces, historical perservations, urban forestry and conservations, but the rest of the amount goes to missile defense and “all of the favorite programs you want to hate,” Udall said.

Udall said the solutions to environmental concerns are stabilizing world population and providing sustainable, renewable and non-polluting energy.

“We don’t inherit the earth from our parents, but in fact we borrow it from our children,” Udall concluded. “God may forgive all of us, but our children won’t.”Both representatives answered the public’s questions and urged them to write to their congressmen about environmental issues.