Subject: Viridian Note 00383: Silent Coup at EPA
- Key concepts:
- Bush administration, industrial backers,
pollution, stealth actions, avoiding press coverage
Attention Conservation Notice:
- Involves the increasingly
noisome subject of domestic American politics.
Hey, check this out. Exxon-Mobil can fund the Competitive
Enterprise Institute, and fund the Bush Administration,
and sue the Bush Administration EPA through the CEI, all
at the same time. Why don't they just elect a gas-pump as
The malignant Lee Raymond is retiring from Exxon-Mobil
just in time to see 15,000 people killed of the heat in
France. Oh, and 4,000 Italians, too.
They've got stop.esso and campaignexxon on their case, and
also Greenpeace and these nice gay people. Wow. Now
they're in for it!
Gee... I wonder why gasoline costs so much in stricken
California. Plus Enron-esque blackouts and right-wing
recalls? Goodness me! What have the Californians
possibly done to deserve all this?
Interesting suggestion here that global warming may be
worse than all-out nuclear holocaust.
Source: Seth Borenstein, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper
"Industry got all it wanted on the environment"
By Seth Borenstein
Seth Borenstein covers science and the environment for the
Inquirer Washington Bureau.
"WASHINGTON == In a quiet flurry of late-summer activity,
the Bush administration eased a series of environmental
regulations, delivering almost every rule change on
corporate America's wish list.
"The administration diluted federal rules governing air
pollution from old coal-fired power plants; emissions that
cause global warming; contaminated ballast water on ships;
sales of land tainted with PCBs; drilling for oil and gas
on federal land; and scientific studies that underpin
"In every case the business community got what it wanted,
and environmentalists got mad.
"Why so much so fast? Timing. Fewer people pay attention
in the vacation season. The controversial decisions also
got taken care of before President Bush's nominee for EPA
administrator, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, is in a position to
take the heat. And the 2004 campaign is still a long way
"Administration supporters say the rule changes eliminate
unnecessary government edicts that curtail energy
production, discourage investment, hinder the economy, or
cost jobs. Moreover, they say, not all rule changes have
favored industry, although they acknowledge that most
"Bill Kovacs, vice president for environmental issues of
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the business community
won more environmental battles during the final week of
August than it had during the entire Clinton era.
(((Bill Kovacs, fighting to kill your grandparents with
Greenhouse heat since at least 1998!)))
"He and two industry lobbyists said the Bush
administration had delivered nearly every environmental
regulatory change business put on its to-do list in
(((Wow! What's left to Leavitt to sack and pillage?)))
"'They need to get this stuff out of the way before they
get into an election year; they need to get enough below
the radar,' said Stephen Meyer, director of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Project on
Environmental Politics and Policy.
"'You can't find a week when people are less likely to pay
attention than the end of August,' said Phil Clapp,
president of the National Environmental Trust. (((Perhaps
because they're dying of heat!)))
"Lisa Harrison, the Environmental Protection Agency's
chief spokeswoman, denied that the timing was politically
motivated. 'It is interesting sport for people to offer
their conjecture, but it's nothing more than that,' she
said. Harrison agreed that the administration had put most
of its regulatory agenda in place: 'That's certainly a
testament... to the President keeping his commitment.'
(((Bush EPA spokeswoman... ma'am, that must be some kinda
job you got there. Where's Christie? Do you gals
"Though the changes involved rewrites of arcane regulatory
language, they still constituted major U-turns in policy.
"'They're trying to dismantle some of the original clean
air and water legislation that [President Richard M.]
Nixon put through,' said Lester Brown, president of the
Earth Policy Institute. 'They're going full bore.'
(((Been a big month for Lester, who was forecasting
planetary starvation in our last note but one.)))
"The decisions included:
"Two controversial changes in a rule governing expansion
of old coal-fired power plants, dramatically easing
requirements on companies to install new pollution
controls when they make big upgrades.
"The conclusion that carbon dioxide, which most scientists
say is the chief cause of global warming, is not a
pollutant that the EPA can cite to regulate emissions from
cars and power plants.
"An EPA decision that it won't regulate ships' ballast
water under the Clean Water Act, turning the issue over to
the Coast Guard. The ballast water contains billions of
tiny fish, plants and other foreign species that
scientists say are major threats to native species.
"An edict changing a 25-year-old rule to allow the sale of
land tainted with PCBs.
"An order to Bureau of Land Management field offices in
the West to speed the process permitting drilling for oil
and gas on federal lands.
"An Office of Management and Budget policy governing
scientific studies used to justify costly federal
regulations. The policy orders more stringent peer review;
its critics fear it will slow the implementation of
"'There's a lot of dramatic change going on. And a good
bit of which would be thought of by many as not very
environmentally sound,' said Dan Esty, who was the EPA's
deputy chief of staff in the first Bush administration.
(((This is great news for industry, right? Unless you
breathe. Or sweat. Or eat. Or buy real estate tainted
"Unable to get its desired changes through Congress, the
Bush team gets them done through administrative rulings.
"'They leave the laws in place, but undermine the
regulations below them, undermine the rules and undermine
the agencies,' MIT's Meyer said. 'The details get lost
because the average person doesn't have the details or the
time to follow it.' (((It's now official! If you read
Viridian List, you're not an average person!)))
"Kovacs of the Chamber of Commerce said Bush was simply
borrowing a tactic that the Clinton administration
"'They figured out what the Clinton administration figured
out,' Kovacs said. 'If you control the agencies, you use
them. I wish they had done it sooner.'
Contact reporter Seth Borenstein at
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WELL, NOW YOU KNOW
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