Magazine article The Futurist

Government Policies That Hurt the Environment

Magazine article The Futurist

Government Policies That Hurt the Environment

Article excerpt

Government Policies That Hurt the Environment

The greenhouse effect, air pollution, and increasing dependence on oil imports are being made worse, not better, by U.S. government policies, a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) says.

"The problems of greenhouse warming, air pollution, and oil security are intimately linked through the gases, pollutants, and technologies associated with fossil fuel combustion," writes WRI senior associate James J. MacKenzie in the report "Breathing Easier: Taking Action on Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Energy Insecurity."

Government policies are acting to compound these problems, because government leaders have ignored the connections between them. Among examples noted in the report: . The higher speed limits on interstate highways recently sanctioned by Congress will result in greater fuel use, requiring more oil imports and producing more air pollution. . The use of methanol -- suggested as a substitute for gasoline and diesel fuel to reduce oil imports -- could could compound global warming, since a car burning methanol made from coal would result in twice the carbon-dioxide emissions per mile as one burning gasoline. Moreover, importing methanol would merely shift the U.S. from dependency on one type of energy import to another. . At the same time that the Department of Energy has stressed the need to cut back on U.S. imports of foreign oil, the Department of Transportation has rolled back fuel standards for new cars, leading to increased oil use and greater greenhouse warming from additional emissions of carbon dioxide from less-efficient vehicles.

The WRI report singles out electric power plants and the transportation sector as perhaps the greatest contributors to these problems.

The report catalogs power plants' role in air pollution and global warming, noting that one-third of all U. …

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