In a ceremony that would've been considered unthinkable a few years ago, President Bush signed a major energy bill Wednesday mandating increased fuel efficiency for new cars and trucks and taking other important steps to modernize the nation's energy policy. ...

The freshly minted energy bill is far from perfect. Lawmakers scuttled a worthwhile measure to impose $21 billion in taxes on oil and gas companies to help pay for the development of cleaner, renewable fuels and torpedoed a promising initiative requiring electric utilities to improve efficiency or use more wind and solar power.

But despite such flaws, the bill represents commendable progress along the road toward energy independence while foreshadowing how much farther our nation still must travel.

ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION, DEC. 20

Politics hampers Bali talks

U.S. delegates at the conference to develop an international accord on climate change should not have been able to put this nation in a position to be shamed or railroaded into signing on to an effective plan.

Unfortunately, they were following national policy, so there was little they could do, except to reject efforts to write binding commitments into a plan to limit emissions from industry, transportation and agriculture. ...

The best thing to come out of this latest meeting was an agreement to keep trying. At least the Bali conference attempted to bring all the nations on board and to hold developing and industrialized nations accountable. ...

Given the evidence related to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, warming seas, deforestation, extinction of species and erratic weather, two more years of talk clearly are not solution enough. A pact to limit emissions is past due. Developing nations should be part of the solution. The U.S. and other industrialized nations should lead the way.

RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL, DEC. 18

U.N. caters to despots

Remember September's crisis in Myanmar when the ruling junta crushed a peaceful demonstration? It hasn't fazed the United Nations, where one of the world's worst human rights violators remains a member in good standing. ...

The oppressive Myanmar regime denies citizen rights. It capitalizes on forced labor (including children). And it restricts U.N. operations on its soil. Yet it receives regular assistance from the world body and its affiliated programs -- $218 million from 2002 to 2005, according to The Heritage Foundation.

Myanmar also has the distinction of serving on the executive board of the United Nations Children's Fund and is a member of the Commission on Social Development. So much for the pledge from U.N. members "to affirm faith in fundamental human rights ... ."

The fact is, Myanmar is among a gallery of reprobate nations that draw funds from the U.N., which in turn is financed by the United States.

With somnambulistic silence on U.N. affairs, the U.S. chooses to sleep with dogs.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, DEC. 17