Tuesday, October 28, 2003
::: Rape of the Environment :::
"Dirty Secrets" - A Bush Report Card
This article by Osha Gray Davidson of Mother Jones is so jam-packed with horrifying policies
put forth by the Bush administration, it is difficult to decide what to include. A few points:
** has crippled the Superfund ... which is used to clean up toxic wastes
** has gutted key sections of Clean Water and Clean Air Acts ... has cut
the enforcement division by one-fifth, cut fines by two-thirds, cut prosecution of the
worst offenders by one-third.
** has opened some of the nations most pristine, environmentally sensitive
lands to logging, mining, and oil and gas drilling.
Note from article:
The administration has abdicated the decades-old federal responsibility to protect native animals and plants from extinction, becoming the first not to voluntarily add a single species to the endangered species list. It has opened millions of acres of wilderness-including some of the nation's most environmentally sensitive public lands-to logging, mining, and oil and gas drilling. Under one plan, loggers could take 10 percent of the trees in California's Giant Sequoia National Monument; many of the Monument's old-growth sequoias, 200 years old and more, could be felled to make roof shingles. Other national treasures that have been opened for development include the million-acre Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona, the 2,000-foot red-rock spires at Fisher Towers, Utah, and dozens of others.
** has refused to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants
** has helped mining companies continue the process of "mountaintop-removal coal mining"
and made it easier for the mining companies to obtain permits.
Note from article:
So how did a process mandated by a federal judge "to minimize, to the maximum extent practicable, the adverse environmental effects" from mountaintop removal become a vehicle for industry? Two words: Steven Griles. Never heard of him? You're not supposed to. Steven Griles is one of industry's moles within the Bush administration. Before coming to work as deputy secretary of the Interior, Griles was one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, with a long list of energy-industry clients, including the National Mining Association and several of the country's largest coal companies. On August 1, 2001, Griles signed a "statement of disqualification," promising to stay clear of issues involving his former clients. Despite that promise, according to his own appointment calendar (obtained by environmental groups through the Freedom of Information Act), Griles met repeatedly with coal companies while the administration worked on the mountaintop-removal issue. Griles has denied discussing the "fill rule" in any of those meetings. But on August 4, 2001- three days after signing his recusal letter- he gave a speech before the West Virginia Coal Association, reassuring members that "we will fix the federal rules very soon on water and spoil placement." Two months later, Griles sent a letter to the EPA and other agencies drafting the EIS, complaining that they were not doing enough to safeguard the future of mountaintop removal and instructing them to "focus on centralizing and streamlining coal mine permitting." Griles is now the subject of an Interior Department investigation for possible ethics violations.
** energy industry donated $2.8 million to Bush 2000 campaign - then came
Cheney's secretive energy task force -
Note from article:
But there was little public debate over a plan to drill 66,000 coalbed methane gas wells in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana-a massive project that will result in 26,000 miles of new roads, 48,000 miles of new pipelines, and discharges of 2 trillion gallons of contaminated water, disfiguring for years the rolling hills of that landscape. That plan was hatched behind closed doors, by the secretive energy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Cheney task force is behind another of the administration's pet projects- protecting utilities from having to comply with a law enacted 26 years ago. Some 30,000 Americans die each year because the federal government is unwilling to take meaningful steps to enforce the Clean Air Act's standards for coal-fired power plants. Nearly 6,000 of those deaths are attributable to plants owned by a mere eight companies, according to a study by ABT Associates, which frequently conducts assessments for the EPA. (The companies are American Electric Power, Cinergy, Duke, Dynegy, FirstEnergy, SIGECO, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.)
** Bush's Clear Skies gives power plants 15 more years of polluting
** Bush wants to increase Nuclear Power Plants by 50%
Note from article:
Industry officials insist that with today's improved technology such a calamity is unthinkable [Three Mile Island]. But that hasn't stopped the administration from endorsing a $9 billion cap on industry liability, just in case the unthinkable should occur. Other gifts to nuclear-plant operators include more than $1 billion in new subsidies and tax breaks, support for relicensing dangerously outdated reactors, and at least $18 billion in taxpayer money for construction of a high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
** has removed 20% of marshes, ponds, swamps and wetlands from protection
by changing the definition of "waters of the United States."
More hideous actions:
The White House has also been darkly brilliant at using the courts to do its dirty work-through methods such as "sweetheart suits," the practice of encouraging states and private groups to file lawsuits against the federal government, and then agreeing to negotiated settlements that bypass environmental laws without any interference from Congress or the public. In perhaps the most egregious such case, in April the state of Utah and the Interior Department announced that they had reached a settlement involving 10 million acres of federal lands set aside in the 1990s for possible wilderness designation. The deal will allow Utah to sell oil and gas rights on what had largely been pristine areas, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with its multihued cliffs and Cedar Mesa, a fragile desert area near Monument Valley that holds world-renowned archaeological sites-and that is now slated to host a jeep safari.
Two days after the first settlement with Utah-in another closed-door deal-Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed a second, more sweeping compact promising that the federal government would never again so much as study lands for wilderness designation. And not just in Utah: The decision, which effectively freezes a wilderness-protection program that goes back nearly 40 years, applies to more than 200 million acres of Western lands, an area twice as large as California.
Granny is thinking Bush is the most aggressive Environmental Rapist to date!
Other sources sure to make you sizzle:
Developers are taking advantage of a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that removes 'isolated' waterways from any federal protection.
The Bush administration has repeatedly mischaracterized scientific facts to bolster its political agenda in areas ranging from abstinence education and condom use to missile defense, according to a detailed report released yesterday by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
This is the Detailed Report mentioned above and is well worth the read ... it is most astonishing and very scary ... pdf format.
Granny Out .......