Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who cares about states' rights?

So much -- but still somehow not enough -- has already been said about Congress' bloated, pork filled national energy policy which President Bush signed into law earlier in the week. Most have pointed out, correctly, that the policy will do little to actually solve our nation's energy problems. Maybe the best example was Thomas L. Friedman in his most recent New York Times column ["Too Muck Pork and Too Little Sugar," Aug. 5]. LINK

But what's just as scary about our new Bush energy policy is its complete disregard for states' rights, a supposed vanguard for the president's conservative constituency.

For example: It used to be that any proposed energy project would be either approved or rejected by the state where the project is to take place. Now, energy businesses can skip state courts and head directly to federal appeals courts in cases where state officials deny or stall energy projects.

That's big. And energy companies have wasted no time in taking advantage.

Here in Connecticut, several high profile energy projects which formerly had been denied by state officials have been reanimated in Frankenstein-esque fashion in federal court. Within just a few hours of President Bush placing his signature on the nation's new energy bill, Islander East, an energy company and a facet of KeySpan, petitioned the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to direct the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to approve its proposed pipeline from Branford to the eastern tip of Long Island.

Keep in mind that Connecticut's DEP had already rejected Islander East's pipeline proposal, as it violates a whole slew of state environmental laws.

Unfortunately, Islander East is simply exercising their new found rights. The matter of the proposed pipeline now lies in a federal court in New York, not Connecticut. Federal judges will now be able to tell states to allow huge energy projects, whether they want it or not.

It's not hard to picture Connecticut's pristine Long Island Sound coastline littered with several massive natural gas terminals floating just a few miles off coast. Who wants to guess how long before they'll begin construction?

I'd imagine this complete trampling of states rights will eventually pose a headache for the Bush administration's already slipping conservative base. After all, the foundation of the conservative philosophy, or one of them anyway, has long been the right of a state over federal governing.

How many natural gas terminals will be erected in states where they're not wanted before people start asking questions?

I'm just askin'.


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