By MARGUERITE HANSELMAN
Being a conservationist in Texas is something akin to being a Native American in our colonial days. Environmental groups in Texas are seen as meddlesome, impeding progress, and keeping Americans from making a decent living, say, somewhere around the 31-percent tax bracket. In Texas, we watched and panted as Houston slowly caught up to LA as the smoggiest city in America. We watched and protested when tax-supported airports and unneeded beltways were planned to service the huge petrochemical industry. We sloshed through wetlands destined to become golf courses. We listened with disbelief as former exterminator/Minority Whip Tom De Lay called the EPA "the Gestapo". I fled to the northwoods of the Midwest but have nightmares about George W. Bush's America as president. Here are some of my nightmares.
Education: All public schools were closed as of January 2002. The public schools were not seen as economically practical, especially since most WASP students have left under the voucher system and the needs of inner city minorities are just too expensive for the state and federal governments to fund. Private schools will now receive all education funds allocated by the Bush Congress. Curriculums will now be under the direct supervision of GWB and his appointed task force. GWB always felt that standards were too high in our public schools and children should be allowed more freedom of expression -- like dropping out before high school and becoming a welder's apprentice.
Air Pollution: Using his executive power and under the advice of his Texan energy friends and contributors, GWB revoked the Clean Air Act so all companies could see the error of their ways and voluntarily clean up their own emissions and toxic dumping. To set a good example and make Texas seem more like an all-American state in the middle of the national averages, GWB immediately accepted use of a Ford Excursion as the official presidential limo. As of 2003, Washington, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle, had all caught up and passed Texas and California's former status as the two most polluted states in America. All tours up to the top of Empire State Building, Washington Monument, the space needle in Seattle and the Arch in St. Louis were cancelled because of health problems and lack of any visibility.
Northwest Logging: GWB teams up with his Houston big money pal, Charles Hurwitz, president of Maxxam (and Pacific Lumber), and authorized the sale of the recently acquired Headwaters Forest back to Hurwitz at 1887 logging land prices (Compassionate Conservatism) -- 12 cents an acre. GWB also arranged for all of Hurwitz's perceived trumped up charges on junk bonds and bank misdoing to be dropped by presidential pardon. Intense logging will begin immediately amongst the giant redwoods and the former Headwaters Forest will now be known as Maxxam Mecca and gated from the public. When a tree hugger climbed a redwood following the announcement, GWB ordered her arrested and shipped to Texas for immediate execution with no trial. All other national forests with any trees over 4 inches diameter are ordered opened to commercial logging in all areas. All new logging roads are now open to ORV's of any description. Roads will be maintained from oil royalties on Alaskan oil and newly drilled off shore California wells.
Dams and Fish: Because of pressure from California PAC contributors to his campaign, ($37 billion), and to prevent mudslides affecting PAC and individual contributors in the coastal states' canyons, Bush orders a record number of dams to be built along all major rivers running from those economically impractical mountains to the ocean. These dammed-up rivers can also be used to run redwood logs to market in case the railroads fail without congressional support. In a February press conference, he told the salmon fishermen to get a life and try privatizing their business. "Build a few ponds and raise salmon and quit whining," he was heard to say to a fourth-generation Snake River fisherman. White House dinners now served are Scotland salmon at $157 a pound.
Mining and Oil Exploration: Oil and mining exploration is something GWB felt very confident about, based on his sterling record in the oil biz. He immediately directed the Big Three Oil Companies to enter the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and start drilling. All publicly influenced decisions regarding mining of front ranges, national parks, and any public land were revoked. GWB's explanation in the media was: "This land is our land, this land is your land and after tomorrow, this land is oil land." When gas prices plummeted to 25 cents a gallon, GWB propped up the price of oil with former education and conservation funds.
Grand Canyon: George W. Bush's first move in office was to revoke all the Clinton acts that declared parts of Utah, Colorado and Arizona as national monuments. He raised the Dow Jones Average 500 points that day by announcing the sale of the rights to the Grand Canyon to Exxon. Grand Canyon is now known as Tiger Gorge and has a large logo emblazoned on sandstone across from the Bright Angel Lodge. The Bright Angel Lodge is now known as Exxon Inn. Three hundred helicopters a day now hover over the gorge to allow tourists to see the logo and on some clear days, the rest of the gorge. Rafting trip numbers have decreased dramatically, shutting down the local eco-tourism promoters. Yellowstone Park has now joined Houston and LA as the most dirty air in American. All wildlife was captured, and shipped to urban zoos so snowmobilers could safely drive through the park without buffalo and elk collisions. The wolves, of course, were exterminated.
Nuclear Power: As a fallback strategy after some pressure from utility campaign contributors, GWB made the sticky issue of nuclear waste his own domain. He arranged for all nuclear waste to be disposed of in the canyons of the Rio Grande running through the former Big Bend National Park. He was quoted as saying, "Hell, it's just a scrubby desert, not good for any subdivisions or highways or industrial parks. No one will ever see it." The president of Mexico arranged for all border residents of the Rio Grande on the American side to be deported to safer upwind locations in Mexico.
Health Care: Adopting the "survival of the fittest" philosophy, GWB ended Medicare, and encouraged doctors to voluntarily donate their services to the sick poor people. GWB told ill people to accept Jesus and they would be cured. After the worst nation-wide smog summer, over 40,000 seniors met their demise. Outside recesses at all schools are a thing of the past. To encourage physical fitness, the private schools received large federal grants to build clear domes over their playgrounds. Outside sports are no longer possible for players or spectators but federal grants have created a flurry of massive air conditioned professional sports stadiums in every metropolitan area, replacing antiques such as Shea Stadium and Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field. Corporate sponsorship provided catchy names like Dow Sports Palace or Time Warner/AOL Auditorium for Games.
Environmental Groups: All environmental groups of more than two members must register with the government, submit fingerprints to the FBI and allow electronic monitoring of meetings. Only the Audubon Society was allowed to continue their activities as long as they stuck to bird watching, an avocation that has seen serious decline since most birds have aspirated on air particulates. A Sierra Club meeting went underground in 2002 and met in the downtown Houston tunnel system but were forced to evacuate when a strange rotten egg smell filled the tunnel.
Marguerite Hanselman is a refugee from Houston now living in Wisconsin.