The Viridian Design Movement

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 President?

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 regulations.

"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 off.

"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 have.

"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 January 2001. (((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 ever talk?)))

"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 environmental regulations.

"'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 with PCBs.)))

"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 routinely used.

"'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 sborenstein*

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