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Bush’s Environmental Record
T he Bush administration began its term in office by appointing industry officials and legal allies to the U.S. government’s top environmental protection offices. Since then it has pursued a strategy of opening public property to development. Current Interior Secretary Gale Norton once worked for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a think tank promoting commercial development of public lands.
Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Mark Rey—who overseas the U.S. Forest Service’s 100 million-plus acres of public forest—worked for timber industry trade groups for 18 years, from 1976-1994. Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles most recently was the president of his own lobbying firm where clients included “utility, coal and oil interests...Sun Co, Pennsylvania Power and Light, Occidental Petroleum, National Mining Sun Co, Pennsylvania Power and Light, Occidental Petroleum, National Mining Association, Edison Electric, and the Aluminum Association,” reports research group CLEAR. Both President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have worked for resource companies and, once in office, this Administration set its tone by disavowing the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warming and by announcing an intention to drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and across public lands.
The Bush administration’s energy plan, which to date remains stalled in Congress, calls for altering laws to boost oil and gas development, mining, and spur the creation of more nuclear power plants. Yet how this plan was drafted under Vice President Dick Cheney’s leadership remains obfuscated because the White House has fought to hide internal records and memos from public view. In Spring 2002, the Bush administration was court-ordered to release some internal records. The National Resource Defense Council reviewed these documents and reported that the energy plan was developed with direct input from the National Coal Council, Chevron, General Motors, and the National Mining Council, among other companies and industry groups. Congressperson Henry Waxman (D-CA) has charged that Cheney’s proposed energy plan includes 17 provisions matching requests by the now-bankrupt Texas company, Enron; Enron was President Bush’s largest political donor up to January 2002, reports the Associated Press.
During the last three years, the Bush administration fought to reduce a scheduled tightening of arsenic standards in drinking water, but was unable to halt it. In October 2001, the Interior Department relaxed mining rules on public lands to weaken water safety standards in mining operations and to make it harder for government officials to deny a proposed mine even if the mine would cause “substantial irreparable harm.” In January 2002, Bush loosened guidelines for how private-sector developers preserve wetlands when developing commercial and residential projects. In March 2003, Bush moved to double logging levels on 10 million acres of public forest in the Sierra Nevada region of California in disregard of a stricter 2001 management plan that took a decade of consultation and study to forge. The list of deregulation goes on.
This past summer, the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual State of the Environment report excluded comments on global warming because the White House ordered these comments deleted. The President’s Clear Skies air quality initiative, currently being considered by Congress, excludes regulation of a central gas linked to global warming—carbon dioxide—from industrial exhaust. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants Congress to exempt the U.S. military from all U.S. environmental laws, including laws dealing with hazardous waste, air quality, endangered species, and ocean species, even though the military can already seek case-by-case waivers under existing law by just offering a justification.
Furthermore, during the last three years industry groups have been challenging U.S. environmental laws in court and winning from this Administration very generous court settlements that weaken environmental protections—before any judge rules—a pattern that has prompted environmental advocates, and even CBS News Online (April 19, 2003, “Lawsuits, Not Lawmakers, Make Policy”) to wonder if Bush and company are using the settlement process to enshrine new law while avoiding the checks-and- balances of Congress and federal rule-making.
Recently, the League of Conservation Voters awarded Bush an “F” for environmental protection, and the group’s president, Deb Calla- han, summed it up by saying, “Under the Bush administration, corporate polluters have been allowed to write the laws.” With the public focused on war, Bush administration officials are pushing an unannounced developmental agenda to reshape the American landscape.
Gregg Mosson has published articles in the Oregonian , PDXS, Cascadia Forest Roots , and the Hill Rag. He will be a teaching fellow at the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars this fall.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.