Bush Redux

In pursuing the Republican presidential nomination, Jeb Bush has struggled to get out of his brother's White House shadow and discourage chatter of a family dynasty in the making.

Sorry, Jeb, it won't work, at least with a national energy policy. The Bush brothers, sad to say, are "two peas in the same pod" in advocating what amounts to a wish list for the fossil fuel industry. We are left with the same regressive, environmentally unsustainable blueprint for meeting the nation's energy needs.

Perhaps the commonalities can be explained by Jeb's hire of some of the same advisers who counseled George W. during his presidency. Whatever the reason, both men have exhibited the same bias in favor of fossil fuels, while giving short shrift to the challenge of climate change. Absent from their grand design is the need to counter global warming by gradually transitioning from coal, oil and gas to clean renewable energy sources.

In an all too familiar vein, Jeb is following in his brother's footsteps by proposing to relax regulation of industrial emissions, supposedly to jumpstart the economy. Jeb has joined George W. in ignoring the health costs resulting from this regulatory rollback, health costs that according to the Environmental Protection Agency's commissioned analyses would far exceed the economic benefits.

Just as his older brother, Jeb has publicly vowed to adopt the politically correct strategy of tapping all sources of energy, including solar, wind and other renewables. But when it comes to following up that pledge with adequate funding, the government subsidies in Jeb's plan flow primarily to fossil fuels, just as they did in the Bush White House. When pressed, both Bushes maintain that renewables are not commercially and technically viable enough for prime time.

Borrowing from their conservative ideology, the Bush brothers maintain that only through market forces, not government subsidies, can renewables become standard fare for American consumers. (Conspicuously omitted are the handsome federal subsidies enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry and tremendous commercial advances already made by renewables.) The Bush boys also favor corporate voluntary compliance taking precedence over mandated regulatory requirements when it comes to meeting anti-pollution goals.

A familiar refrain in both brothers' energy plans is a call for an increase in oil drilling on federal lands, including Rocky Mountain sites and the outer continental shelf off the East and West coasts. Their production frenzy culminates in support of the full-scale fracking of natural gas, while glossing over related questions of water contamination and earthquake causation.

Jeb mimics George by recommending that the states assume the federal government's oversight responsibilities in regulating production and distribution of energy. The Bush brothers think the states are better equipped to manage the nation's energy infrastructure. But the duo fail to consider that some states are less conscientious than others in enforcing anti-pollution statutes, thereby necessitating federal minimum standards.

Similar though the brothers may be, what makes Jeb's stance even more distressing is his failure to learn from George's past mistakes. Instead, while the melting and sea level rise from global warming rapidly progress, the latest Bush to run for president does not.