A reliable White House source sent us Santa Claus' letter replying to President Bush's Christmas wish list. As a public service, we're posting it in full:
Dear Mr. President:
I don't like having to put coal in anyone's stocking, especially these days. Even with the economy coughing and wheezing, the price of Appalachian coal is still $45 a ton higher on the spot market than it was at this time last year. My accounting elves keep sending me cross memos about blowing my coal budget.
Still, however, you may not leave me a choice. I have a stack of reports on my desk here at the North Pole workshop about some of the naughty actions that have come out of your administration in the last few weeks. I have an idea for you to make things right, but first, the bill of particulars.
First, there was that business of oil and gas drilling near national parks in Utah, including Dinosaur National Monument. Bringing noise, dust, traffic, and pollution threats to some of the most unspoiled scenic lands in America is not my idea of being a good boy.
You might be interested to know that a conservative Republican congressman named John Saylor fought tooth and nail to keep the Bureau of Reclamation from building a dam inside Dinosaur in the early 1950s. You could learn from his brand of conservatism, which equated conservation with patriotism.
National parks, Saylor said, are "an investment in health, recreation, education and in something as simple and profound as love of country love of the unique and wonderful natural fabric that is the foundation of America."
Then, there was the rule that allows federal agencies to, in essence, self-certify their compliance with the Endangered Species Act rather than run their proposals by the fish and wildlife agencies. That is simply poor business practice that fails the most basic principles of accountability.
My workshop elves are not allowed to self-certify the quality of the gifts they make. I have Ronald Reagan's famous maxim posted on the shop wall: "Trust but verify."
And don't me started on those proposed rule changes that would have weakened the Clean Air Act's language on upgrading old power plants' pollution controls and protecting air quality over national parks and wilderness areas.
How am I supposed to see where I'm going on Christmas Eve if the air is polluted?
Fortunately, EPA saw the litigation writing on the wall and pulled back, muttering explanations about running out of time. But the rules should never have been proposed to begin with.
OK, since I'm a jolly old elf, I'm going to give you an out. There is one thing that you can do to ensure that I put something sweet in your stocking.
I know you have a soft spot for oceans. Two years ago, you established the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which at the time was the world's largest ocean preserve. Now, you have two proposals on your desk that would protect more U.S. territory than any other president has ever protected.
The proposed central Pacific preserve alone would cover nearly 500 million acres, big enough to hold every national park, wildlife refuge, and forest combined, with room left over to take in the entire state of California. Marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, coral reefs, hundreds of fish species, spectacular undersea formations what a conservation prize this marine preserve would be.
It would please me no end if you did for the oceans what Theodore Roosevelt did for the land. It would be a legacy to amaze everyone, even your toughest critics.
Just do it. Put pen to paper and establish those supersize marine preserves. Future generations will thank you. Just so you know, I've set aside a few pounds of the finest saltwater taffy that money can buy. It will be in your stocking if you do the right thing.
That's all. Time's flying and I have other cases to review, including that Blagojevich fellow. A few pounds of Illinois coal may be just the thing for him.
S. "Nick" Claus.
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