27 July 2001
1. URGENT: THE FIRST VOTE ON FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS IN 25 YEARS.
If all cars and SUVs had a CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy)
standard of 27.5 mpg, the country would save more gasoline in
three years than could be recovered economically from the entire
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Next week, the House will vote
on the Boehlert-Markey Amendment to the Energy Bill, which would
impose that standard. There will be intense opposition.
2. MISSILE DEFENSE I: DAMN THE ABM TREATY, FULL SPEED AHEAD.
When President Clinton set out to develop a limited defense
against missiles from rogue nations, he did so expecting Russia
to agree to alter the 1972 ABM Treaty to allow for such defenses
(WN 18 Feb 00).
Russia refused, but that was then. On Tuesday,
President Vladimir Putin said Russia would now consider changes,
but a senior Bush administration official made it clear the U.S.
isn't interested in changing the treaty anyway. The treaty and
missile defense, Undersecretary of State John Bolton said, "are
fundamentally in conflict." The U.S. would be happy to link arms
with Russia, marching together into the brave new world of
missile defense, "but we will move ahead on our own if need be."
3. MISSILE DEFENSE II: ALASKA OPTION WOULD LEAP-FROG TESTING.
With the goal of deploying a rudimentary missile defense by 2004,
even if it doesn't work
(WN 4 May 01),
the Bush administration
wants to get started on "test facilities" in Ft. Greely, Alaska.
Come 2004, the Pentagon says, this could become an "emergency
defense system." But isn't Ft. Greely too near populated areas
to launch long-range interceptors? No matter, the Pentagon says,
interceptor missiles would be transported 500 miles to launch
facilities at Kodiak Island. This won't take out any rogue
missiles, but it would obliterate the ABM treaty.
4. POWER LINES: DEAD HORSE RISES AGAIN IN CALIFORNIA.
released this month by California's Department of Health Services
threatens to dredge up hysteria over the safety of power line
EMF. When the National Academy and a massive National Cancer
Institute study found no link between power lines and cancer
(WN 4 Jul 97),
there was hope that the paranoia would die. Alas, the
fear mongers never rest. Based on old and discredited studies,
the California report says EMF could be linked to an increased
risk of miscarriage, childhood leukemia, cancer and even suicide.
The report adds that there is a "chance that EMFs have no effect
at all." Being prudent seems to mean never changing your mind.
Bob Park appreciated the many get-well messages from readers. One
reader observed that on the day of his surgery a horse named Dr.
Park won at Del Mar. This is much too weird to be a coincidence,
but we're not sure exactly how it should be interpreted.
(Stephanie Young contributed to this week's What's New.)