CONCORD, New Hampshire - One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s earliest leaders, flanked by Republican state politicians, blasted the president’s record on the environment Monday during a news conference organized by an anti-Bush environmental group.
Russell Train, a Republican, was the EPA’s second chief under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he said Bush’s record is so dismal he’s casting his presidential vote for Democrat John Kerry in November.
"It’s almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," he said. "I find this deeply disturbing."
Bush supporters defended the president’s record. Tom Thomson, owner of Thomson Family Tree Farm in Orford, praised the Healthy Forests Initiative as good legislation that protects loggers as well as forests. He predicted current policies would have positive long-term effects.
Former EPA Agency Administrator Russell E. Train
Bush "has made progress over the last four years giving us cleaner air, water and land," Thomson said in a statement.
Officials with the state’s Bush-Cheney campaign said sulfur dioxide emissions are down 9 percent, while nitrogen oxide emissions are down 13 percent. They added that the 2002 Farm Bill set aside more than $40 billion in conservation funding.
Environment2004, the environmental group, released a report Monday titled "Damaging the Granite State." It criticizes presidential policies on energy, global warming, toxic waste and air and water pollution.
"It is the worst record in modern history, unfortunately," said Aimee Christensen, the group’s executive director. "They are systematically weakening our keystone public health protections and undermining decades of bipartisan leadership on the environment."
The report faults Bush’s energy policy, for example, for slashing renewable energy funding. According to the report, the cuts are holding back New Hampshire, which could produce 43 percent of its energy from wind power. The report also claims the state could add 5,000 jobs by 2020 with more renewable energy and efficiency investments.
The report cites such sources as federal and state agency reports as well as newspaper articles and advocacy-group studies.
The two Republican state politicians who spoke - Rep. Jim Pilliod, a pediatrician, and former Sen. Rick Russman, who once headed the Senate Environmental Committee, did not endorse Kerry. They said they participated to stress the importance of environmental issues.
Russman said funding was cut for cleanup work at two of the state’s 19 Superfund sites. He also said the administration’s standards would delay mercury emissions cleanup until at least 2018. Pilliod added that mothers and children are particularly vulnerable to mercury pollution.
Train also accused Bush of letting weakening the Clean Air Act. The record, he added, falls short of those set by former Republican presidents ranging from Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated creating national parks and forests, to George H.W. Bush, who supported new anti-air-pollution standards.
The Bush record is "appalling, with very, very few exceptions," Train said. He described presidential policies as "geared to rolling back environmental protections."
Environment2004 has been actively campaigning against Bush policies and has released a national report on its Web site criticizing them.
© Copyright 2004 Associated Press