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E-M:/ Retrovsmetro

From the Divided Times Newsletter:  http://retrovsmetro.org/


Bush Declares War on the Environment

Christians, Republicans, scientists and environmentalists of all interests are calling George W. Bush the worst environmental president. They criticize his administration for weakening decades of landmark initiatives protecting air, water, wildlife and public lands all for the benefit of industry and at the expense of the environment and public wellbeing.

The Bush Administration has been able to rollback significant environmental regulations through changes to legislation, loosening of enforcement, reduced funding for protection, litigation deals, misuse of scientific data, limits to public participation, and  "an unprecedented shroud of secrecy surrounding government deliberations," says the Natural Resources Defense Council in its report "Rewriting the Rules, 3rd Annual Addition." In the past, U.S. environmental laws have been effective because they are supported by a system of federal agency safeguards, monitoring, enforcement, and decisions guided by a respect for science and data---a vital infrastructure that the NRDC says the Bush administration has completely undermined.

As one of several Republican conservationists criticizing the Bush Administration's environmental policies, Russell Train said that under Bush the Republican party is not conservative but "has become radical." Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency for the Nixon and Ford administrations, said, "Sadly, the Bush Administration has decided to promote the interests of its polluting campaign contributors from the energy, mining and timber industries over the interests of common citizens."

The Bush Administration gives its environmental programs deceptive titles, like the "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" initiatives. These names mask its agenda to benefit industry profits at the expense of environmental protection and public health, says the League of Conservation Voters, which last week gave the administration an "F" for its industry-driven policies. The group highlighted the administration's "blatant bias" towards the interests of corporate polluters, most of whom have given tremendous amounts of money to the Bush campaign. (LCV President Deb Callahan said Americans should expect nothing less in environmental protection than the fundamental right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and pass a livable legacy to the next generation.)

"Healthy Forest" critics say the initiative aims to boost logging in national forests under the guise of wildfire protection.  The President's "Clear Skies" plan is equally deceiving in name and actually aims to undo decades of progress set by the Clean Air Act. Critics say "Clear Skies" would allow some of the dirtiest power plants in the country to emit more pollution for a longer period of time than current law allows and do nothing to curb carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.

However, President Bush has dismissed claims that global warming is truly a serious threat. He uses the argument that a lack of scientific certainty exists to substantiate concerns, ignoring confirmation from his government's National Academy of Sciences. In recent presidential debates, Bush defended his decision not to accept Kyoto Treaty provisions on greenhouse-gas emissions by saying, "It's one of these deals where, in order to be popular in the halls of Europe, you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot. I think there is a better way to do it." Bush's way calls for ten years of study before imposing any mandatory regulations to limit emissions of the gases that are shown to be a problem. He also has suggested that rather than attack the alleged causes of global warming, it's best to adapt to it by "using our technological ingenuity to mitigate its effects."

A group of scientists in February, including 20 Nobel Laureates and 19 recipients of the national medal of science, issued a statement accusing the Bush Administration of "deliberately and systematically" distorting scientific facts and misleading the public in order to further its own objectives. They said the administration has engaged in censoring government studies, gagging agency scientists, refusing to confer with or ignoring independent experts, appointing unqualified or industry-connected individuals to federal advisory committees, disbanding government panels offering unwanted information, and reinterpreting information to fit predetermined policy objectives.

On Earth Day this year, over 100 religious leaders from the National Council on Churches sent a letter to the White House condemning Bush's environmental practices. "We have a president who aligns himself with the Christian community, so as Christians we feel he needs to take a good hard look at the Bible and begin abiding by its principles," the letter says. NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar, former member of Congress, points out that President Bush has said moral values are the cornerstone of his administration. But, Edgar says, as a person of faith "I question whether the president fully understands his moral commitment. I'm concerned that he is failing to protect his children."


Leigh Fifelski

Regional Conservation Organizer

Sierra Club

(248) 435-5277

(248) 435-4371 fax