WASHINGTON - April 5 - President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney may be throwing the first pitches for Opening Day in St. Louis and Cincinnati respectively, but its the industry polluters who have been having a field day since the Bush administration took over management of Americas environmental policies.
"After 30 years of progress cleaning up out water and air, the Bush administration is taking us backwards," stated Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "As Yogi Berra said, Its like déjà vu all over again."
The Bush administration has received widespread criticism for shutting out the public after meeting in secret with energy industry lobbyists and executives when crafting the administrations energy plan. The plan, not surprisingly focuses mainly on creating new loopholes and subsidies to coal, oil, nuclear, and power companies rather than promoting cleaner, energy saving technologies.
Moreover, the administration gets three strikes on pollution issues that especially hit home in Missouri and Ohio.
TRIPLING MERCURY POLLUTION
The Environmental Protection Agency's own data shows that the administrations new mercury rule would allow power plants to emit three times more mercury pollution than the current law for a decade longer. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the Bush administrations new rule included verbatim language provided by a firm representing the operators of America's worst polluting power plants. That same firm had formerly employed the key two people appointed by the Bush administration to oversee power plant pollution at EPA.
Said Pope, "In the battle against mercury pollution, the Bush administration is throwing the game by letting the polluters write their own rules. We havent seen this kind of misbehavior since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox."
MAKING THE FANS BAT CLEANUP
The administration has also come under fire for shifting the burden of toxic cleanup from polluters to taxpayers. In 1980, Congress decided to protect the health and safety of Americans by forcing polluters to pay for the cleanup of toxic dump sites, but the Bush administration is charging taxpayers instead. Under the Bush administration, toxic cleanups have slowed by half.
"If a player gets caught violating league rules, you wouldnt expect the fans pay the fine. Likewise, polluters should be responsible for cleaning up their own mess," explained Pope.
INCREASING SLUDGING PERCENTAGES
Many Missouri and Ohio residents continue to be plagued by discharges of raw sewage when overflows occur often during heavy storms. Despite consensus recommendations from sewer operators, health experts, and state officials, the Bush administration blocked proposed rules that would protect homes, beaches, and streams from overflows and warn the public when so people could take steps to protect their health.
"We cant just call a rain delay when a storm causes raw sewage to foul our beaches or flood our basements," said Pope. "Its unconscionable that the Bush administration would block rules to warn us and protect our health."
The administrations poor record at home is made worse by its efforts put a happy face on policies that benefit polluters at the expense of public health. For example, the administration has been widely ridiculed for naming its air pollution plan the "Clear Skies Initiative." That plan actually allows power plants, refineries, and factories to pollute more soot and smog than the current law for over a decade longer.
Added Pope, "The Bush administration puts a lot of spin on the ball, but we think Americans are smart enough not to swing at the administrations bad pitches."