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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
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.