Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, March 2009


Al-Jazeerah History


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Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




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Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




Obama to the (Green) Rescue? Environmental Groups are Hopeful

 Says Green Environmental Magazine

March 8, 2009

President Obama has pledged to make green priorities his priorities -- and thus far he appears to be keeping his word. Environmental groups are praising his initiatives -- including support in the new stimulus package for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, greening federal buildings, weatherizing homes, and creating green jobs -- but caution that much more is needed to make the U.S. a true leader in staving off irreversible climate catastrophe.
The March/April 2009 issue of E – The Environmental Magazine (now posted at looks at many of the most pressing environmental concerns facing the new administration. These include protecting public forests, setting strict emissions standards, preserving clean water and reforming the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for maintaining many of our nation’s water and related environmental resources. Across the board, environmental groups hope for a reversal of many of the most damaging Bush regulations, and, so far, they've been rewarded. On March 3, 2009, President Obama stopped a Bush-era rule that would have weakened Endangered Species Act protections for animals and plants, and he’s set in motion the ability for states to set their own emissions standards.
The push to present Obama with a shared green vision began in November 2008, shortly after the election, when 29 of the nation’s leading environmental and conservation groups asked the new administration to return to something they say was sorely lacking under President Bush: science-based decision-making. “A core piece of the vision is for science to get back into the argument,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America (the environmental arm of U.S. Public Interest Research Group/PIRG). That led to the document, “Transition to Green,” a 396-page tome with agency-by-agency instructions on positions to create, rules to write and countries to target for global partnerships.
The president was asked not to think about the economy without thinking about the environment, with the message that cutting greenhouse gas emissions and relying on low-carbon renewable energy sources would create millions of jobs and give the economy a jump-start with staying power. Obama should encourage Congress to “use an economic revitalization plan to protect our planet,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
But with a major financial crisis facing the nation, will environmental concerns be put on the back burner? At the very least, say environmentalists, Obama can begin the quick work of reversing damaging Bush-era environmental policies.
Protecting Forests
Number one on the agenda for many groups is restoring Clinton-era rules that banned road building on nearly 60 million acres of national forests. Reinstatement of the so-called “roadless rule” is one of the highlights of “Transition to Green.” Other recommendations for public forests include cancelling logging plans for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, scrapping Bush’s forest-management plans, and throwing out rule changes to the Endangered Species Act and other landmark laws made in the waning days of the Bush Administration.
Fighting Auto Emissions
Obama has already acted swiftly with regard to automobile emissions. Shortly after his inauguration, he signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider its refusal to allow California to regulate its own auto emissions. The EPA could approve the waiver by April, setting a precedent for states across the nation that follow California’s lead, and ushering in a new era of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch called the reversal “one of the biggest and most concrete things the Obama administration can do in its early days. It sends a strong signal, and it has national implications.”
Saving Waterways

As to clean water regulation, the 111th Congress faces a critical issue: returning regulating authority to the Clean Water Act (CWA) with new legislation called the Clean Water Restoration Act. The nation’s waters are in peril. The U.S. has lost more than half of its wetlands since the nation’s founding, and countless miles of rivers and streams are polluted or otherwise impaired. But federal hands are tied. An internal EPA memo from March 2008 found that the agency failed to pursue 304 cases of CWA violations between July 2006 and March 2008 because of “jurisdictional uncertainty” caused by critical Supreme Court decisions under the Bush administration, and that a total of 500 CWA cases have been negatively affected by the rulings.
This special issue of E dives into recommendations for the Obama administration from the nation’s leading environmental groups -- the National Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Fund and Ocean Conservancy among them -- and takes a serious look at what can be, and needs to be, accomplished in the immediate years ahead. In addition, E talks to two groups that are pushing to put an organic garden on the White House lawn, and to officials at Sidwell Friends School -- one of the greenest in the nation -- where first daughters Sasha and Malia go to school.
E – The Environmental Magazine distributes 50,000 copies six times per year to subscribers and bookstores. Its website,, enjoys 60,000 monthly visitors. E also publishes EarthTalk, a nationally syndicated environmental Q&A column distributed free to 1,750 newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the U.S. and Canada ( Single copies of E’s March/April 2009 issue are available for $5 postpaid from: E Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881. Subscriptions are $29.95 per year, available at the same address.




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