Elephant Memory, p. 3

4.  Bush's senior appointments come straight from industry and anti-environmental groups
- Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff, was most recently a leading lobbyist for the auto industry's American Automobile Manufacturers Association.  He opposed rules requiring cleaner-running cars, fought EPA smog and soot rules, and helped lobby against the Kyoto treaty.  (Tompaine.com)
- Dick Cheney, ex-CEO of the Halliburton oil exploration company
- Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, is a former lobbyist for "property rights" groups in the West seeking to undo environmental rules.  She is a disciple of James Watt, the notorious Reagan administration Secretary of the Interior who said that trees cause pollution and tried to undo ten years of environmental rules.
- J. Steven Griles, Norton's deputy at Interior, is a former lobbyist for mining and chemical interests.  (One candidate passed over for the job: Bush Sr.'s secretary of Fish & Wildlife.)
- Camden Toohey, Norton's official in charge of aAlaska, is a former lobbyist for Arctic oil drilling.
- Kit Himball, Norton's official in charge of the West, was a lobbyist for Western business issues.
- Mike Dombeck, the chief of the US Forest Service, quit in March, 2001, after senior people said they wanted to "move in a different direction" from the Clinton administration.
-  Eric Schaeffer, for five years the director of regulatory enforcement at EPA, quit in February, 2002, saying the White House "seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce."  (NY Times, Mar. 1, 2002)

5.  Eroding the Clean Air Act
Bush's team has eviscerated the Clean Air Act.  Examples:
-  The Bush Administration is lifting the ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park.  (NY Times, June 24, 2001, A15).  (This is a particularly annoying one for me since I worked for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now EarthJustice, to convince Yellowstone to regulate or ban snowmobiles.)  This comes after three years of discussion, 45,600 public comments, and the clear statements by park rangers that snowmobile exhaust is a major pollutant in Yellowstone.
- The Bush administration is dropping a series of Clinton-era enforcement lawsuits aimed at requiring old, coal-fired power plants to conform to the Clean Air Act.  (NY Times, May 7, 2001, A11)  Why?  Industry said it was too hard to conform.

6.  Endangering Clean Water
- Bush's EPA has decided to wait until at least 2003 before requiring states to adopt new water pollution standards that were supposed to go into effect last year. (NY Times, July 17, 2001, A17)
- Bush's EPA reversed the Clinton-era EPA's limits on arsenic in water, and replaced them with more lenient limits.
(NY Times, 3/21/01).  The Clinton standard was 10 parts per million, developed after ten years of research.  The National Academy of Sciences concluded that the old standard of 50 ppm, established in 1942, was 100 times less protective than other drinking water standards commonly in use.  Bush's people said there was no "consensus" on the number.  (Chuck Fox, Arsenic and Old Laws, N.Y. Times).  And why do it?  Arsenic that ends up in drinking water is largely produced by extractive industries such as mining.  (Id.)
- The Clinton Administration had closed a loophole in wetlands protection.  Despite an Earth Day pledge to keep this loophole closed, the Bush administration is now talking with industry groups (but not environmental groups) on ways to work around the wetlands rules.  UPDATE: On January 15, 2002, the administration changed the rules, at industry behest, to allow wetlands to be destroyed as long as they are generally replaced on a regional basis.  In the past, companies or people who filled in wetlands had to replace them acre-for-acre.  (NY Times, Jan. 15, 2002, A16)

7.  Let Toxic Polluters Get Away Free
The Bush Administration has decided to end thirty years of the "Polluter Pays" principle in cleaning up Superfund sites.  (NY Times, Feb 24, 2002, A1)  Now, instead of the polluters, taxpayers will pay to clean up the mess!  Any coincidence that the polluters are some of the GOP's biggest donors?  (See also Carol Browner's editorial - she was head of EPA under Clinton - in NY Times, Mar. 1, 2002, A23).
Further, the administration has designated 33 toxic sites for budget cuts -- because the Superfund is hundreds of millions of dollars short.  (NY Times, July 1, 2002, A1)  More corporate profits, fewer clean places.

8.  Kill the Forests
- The Clinton Administration put a rule in place protecting 60 million untouched acres of national forest from road building, oil and gas leasing, and logging.  Various entitites sued.  The Bush administration is not defending the plan, making it likely that it will be scotched.
- Now, Bush's forest chief, Dale N. Bosworth, says he's going to make the decision to uphold or kill the rule on his own, as a matter of his own discretion!
- The Bush administration fought hard to allow logging of burned trees on 46,000 acres of the Bitterroot National Forest, saying "just do it" without any of the statutorily required notice and review periods.  (NY Times, Dec. 18, 2001, at A16).  (The burned trees are critical to the forest's revival after fire, since they fertilize the ground, support wildlife, etc.)  Luckily, a Montana judge stopped this on January 8, 2002.  (Thanks to EarthJustice for fighting the fight -- a lawyer I used to work with in Bozeman won the case!)  Oh, by the way, the Forest Service official who okayed it is a guy named Mark Rey.  He used to be a lobbyist for the timber industry!  Typical Bush environment appointee.

9.  Kowtowing to Cattle Lobby
No more grizzly bear reintroduction in the West, thanks to Bush's interior department.  Cattlemen opposed the reintroduction, fearing lost herds.  The coalition in favor was a broad coalition of hunters and fishers.  And Secretary of Interior Gale Norton didn't consult any of the scientists who worked for ten years studying the impact of reintroduction.  Guess science and popular consensus doesn't matter.

10.  Kowtowing to the Mining Lobby
- The Clinton administration had proposed rules finally giving the feds power to block mines likely to cause "substantial irreparable harm" to water quality and other resources.  Gale Norton spiked them.
- Vice President Cheney's "Energy Task Force" has proposed a plan to open millions of acres of public land to new oil and gas development, including formerly off-limits areas in the Rockies.

10.  Opposing National and International Plans for Cleaner Energy
- The Bush administration is opposing an international drive to phase out fossil fuel subsidies (which cost our government far more than welfare ever did) and move towards cleaner energy sources.  (NY Times, July 14, 2001, A1).  Why oppose this move?  It hurts oil and gas companies.  There really is no other reason.  It wouldn't cost us anything.
- And why phase out rules for new washing machines and air conditioners to be more energy efficient?  (NY Times, March 31, 2001, A11.)  Helps environment, costs industry.  (Even though it would help consumers save money if energy costs rise.)  Spencer Abraham, the industry-lobbyist-turned-Energy-Secretary, spiked rules on central air conditioners because energy conservation had to be "balanced" against price.  (NY Times, April 14, 2001, A7)  So much for the energy crisis!

11.  Letting Industry Challenge and Destroy Environmental Laws
One thing many people don't understand is that the government does much of its enforcement work in courtrooms.  Industries always challenge environmental rules, and it's up to the government to defend them.  But since the Bushies took over, the government has just rolled over on dozens of rules.  For example, the Clinton administration had published a rule phasing out snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park.  Industry sued, as is expected.  The Bush administration decided to roll over and "reconsider the rule."  This is happening in dozens of invisible cases.

12.  Starve environmental agencies
In Bush's first budget, military spending increased 4.8% (this was before 9/11, of course).  (NY Times, April 10, 2001, at A16).  Interior went down 3.9%, EPA down 6.4%, and Energy down 2.5% (largely in efficient-energy projects).  By the way, a comparison: EPA gets $7.3 billion; the Pentagon $310.5 billion.  The entire EPA budget is less than the nuclear weapons program ($14bil), and the spending on single big projects in the DOD's "black budget."

Some cuts: $40 mil less for the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles.  Spending on solar, wind, and hydroelectric power down 50%.  Oh, and the Interior budget does include some increases -- $5mil for studying drilling in the Arctic, roughly 15% increases for oil, gas, and coal extraction research generally.  Why does the government spend a dime on this research if it's industry that makes the money?  Dunno - maybe because it's industry lobbyists running the government.

13.  Screw Endangered Species
The Bush Administration has asked for a one-year freeze on citizens suits under the Endangered Species Act.  These suits are one of the main tools people have for getting the government to enforce the law.  (NY Times, April 12, 2001, A1)

14.  Ruin National Parks and Wilderness Areas
The Norton Interior department has been, without a single exception, in favor of every single mining and drilling proposal that has come its way.  No big surprise, since the department is staffed with former lobbyists for the mining and drilling industries.  This despite 35 million acres already open to development.  Norton has even asked for new financing to "streamline" the permitting process.  (NY Times, Feb. 8, 2002, A14)  A recent example: The Bush administration just opened up scenic areas next to Utah's Arches and Canyonlands National parks, with 50,000-pound trucks already crisscrossing the desert.  This surprised even the oil industry, not to mention the park rangers and government scientists who had strongly opposed the drilling.  (Id.)  That particular "exploration," by the way, was halted after mass protests.  (NY Times, Feb 26, 2002; see also the editorial Chewing Up a Fragile Land, NY Times, Feb. 21, 2002, which describes the awful and blasphemous destruction of wilderness in the name of money).
Another example: snowmobiles in Yellowstone. Despite years of study and overwhelming public support, the Norton Interior department is revising (and wants to kill) the Clinton-proposed ban.  Guess the rangers should just keep wearing gas masks.  (NY Times, Feb. 20, 2002, A14)
Um, is there any good news on national parks?  Well, to be fair:
- Bush didn't fulfill his pledge to overturn Clinton's declaration of about two dozen national monuments.
- He is helping the Everglades, in his brother's state, with $58mil in new money.  Of course, he cut parks spending around the country, but, hey, it's Jeb's park.

So, next time someone tells you that "all politicians are the same," try to remember.
[1]       [2]       3

More Politics:

The Failure of Anti-Despotism Justin Weitz
America's shallow globalization strategy
July, 2002

Finding a Place in the Minefield:
American Jews and the Situation
Samuel Hayim Brody

Avoiding the obvious Jewish responses to the mideast crisis: a response to Jay Michaelson
June, 2002

On Being a Leftist and a Zionist Jay Michaelson
It's a lonely world when you're both an anti-globalization leftist and a Zionist.
May, 2002

Enraged in the Enron Age Dan Friedman
The rich are ripping us off! What are you gonna do about it?
April, 2002

What's your point? Samuel Hayim Brody
A WEF Protester Tells You Why He Bothers
March, 2002

Faces of Death Thomas Vinciguerra
Zeek interviews the man behind generations of world despots
February, 2002

Counterculture and Democracy Jay Michaelson
The best guarantor of democracy is a vibrant, oppositional counterculture.
January, 2002

Five Groups to be angry at after September 11 Jay Michaelson
Channel your rage at the people responsible for September 11 -- and I don't mean the cavemen in Afghanistan.
December, 2001

August 2002

jay's head
josh ring