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E-M:/ Bush Administration Environmental Rollbacks Intensified

Enviro-Mich message from mowens@pirgim.org

For Immediate Release:		        For More Information:
April 22, 2003 				Megan Owens
Earth Day				734-662-6597 or 734-730-5725


Ann Arbor – Emboldened by the 2002 elections, the Bush administration
has intensified its already long-list of attacks on environmental and
public health protections, according to a new report released on
Earth Day by PIRGIM.  Behind Closed Doors details how big polluters
have convinced the Bush administration to support policies that will
degrade Michigan’s air, water and land and threaten public health. 

“Since the 2002 elections, the Bush administration has worked behind
closed doors with polluters to craft one proposal after another to
weaken environmental and public health protections,” said PIRGIM
Field Director Megan Owens.  “This Earth Day, we call on the Bush
administration to listen to the public, not the polluters, and to
uphold, not uproot, America’s environmental laws,” she continued.

PIRGIM's report shows that the Bush administration has allowed
polluters, including oil companies, electric utilities and the
nuclear and coal industries, to water down or completely gut the
cornerstone laws designed to protect America's environment and public
health. The report highlights more than two dozen policies proposed
or enacted by the Bush administration since fall 2002 that will
degrade the environment and compromise public health in Michigan and
across the country. 

For example, the report finds:
	­ The Pentagon has proposed exempting the Department of Defense
(DoD) from five cornerstone environmental laws designed to protect
people living on and near military sites from exposure to toxic waste
and air pollution; preserve critical habitat for endangered species;
and protect marine mammals from harm caused by military activities. 
The DoD already has left a legacy of pollution.  Experts have
identified Camp Grayling as one site of many in immediate need of
testing for groundwater contamination from perchlorate, a toxic
explosive used in rocket fuel and munitions; the Pentagon’s proposal
would make it difficult, if not impossible, to address perchlorate
contamination on operational military ranges.

	­ On New Year’s Eve, the Bush administration finalized the first
phase of a two-pronged attack on the New Source Review program of the
Clean Air Act. Long-lobbied for by owners of dirty power plants and
other big polluters, this policy will permit nearly 500 power plants,
refineries and other facilities in Michigan to actually increase
their emissions of smog- and soot-forming pollution and toxic
mercury.  Already, pollution from dirty power plants causes an
estimated 870 premature deaths and 18,500 asthma attacks in Michigan
each year.  

	­ In January 2003, the Bush administration proposed sweeping changes
to the Clean Water Act that could eliminate protections for smaller
streams and wetlands across Michigan and allow more pollution to
enter the state’s waterways.  Already, more than 333,000 acres of
Michigan’s inland lakes and 600 miles of Michigan’s rivers are
chronically polluted with toxic chemicals.

	­ Under pressure from polluters in all industries, the Bush
administration continues to undercut the letter and spirit of
Superfund, the nation’s pre-eminent law to clean up the worst toxic
waste sites.  Michigan has 67 toxic waste sites on the National
Priority List.  Cordova Chemical received no funding and Velsicol
Chemcial and US Aviex recieved only partial funding for cleanup in
FY2002. The Bush administration’s 2004 budget, proposed in February
2003, will shift at least 79% of the burden of paying for these
cleanups to taxpayers, rather than polluters.  

­ The tragic events of September 11, 2001 raised serious concerns
about safety and security at the country’s nuclear power plants. 
Many facilities cannot even meet the current security requirements
considered inadequate by most experts.  Nonetheless, in December
2002, under pressure from the nuclear power industry, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission ruled that it does not have to consider the
threat of terrorism when deciding to license or relicense a nuclear
power plant.  This decision compromises the health and safety of
communities in Michigan living near aging nuclear power plants up for
re-licensing, such as D.C. Cook and Davis Besse.

“Unfortunately, these are just a few examples, and we anticipate even
more rollbacks of America’s environmental and public health
protections,” said Owens.  “The Bush administration should reverse
its present course—keep our air, land and water clean and safe for
future generations,” she concluded.
                          # # #

PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advoacy group
with 10,000 members across Michigan, working to preserve the
environment, protect consumer and promote good government.  More
information, including this report, is available at www.pirgim.org. 

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

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