4. Bush's senior appointments come straight from industry and
- 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,
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
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
- 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
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
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.
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