Bush declares war on environment... "How many ways did George Bush find to destroy the environment today? Chainsaw in hand, Bush has rolled back virtually every environmental regulation issued by Bill Clinton in his final months in office -- and turned environmental decision-making over to the major polluters. Whatever the logging and mining companies want, the logging and mining companies get. In barely 60 days, Bush has attacked clean air, clean water, national forests and federally protected lands. And he hasn't even started on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge yet. This guy makes Ronald Reagan look like John Muir. How far is Bush willing to go? Consider this. He'll even leave more arsenic -- yes, arsenic! -- in your drinking water, if that's what the mining companies want. They do. He just did.... Now Prime Minister Dick Cheney has taken the anti-global warming crusade one giant step further.... Cheney said the solution to clean air was to bring back nuclear power plants.... There's a good reason why no new nuclear power plant has been authorized in the United States since 1975. But that won't stop Cheney and Bush in their zeal to destroy the planet.... Now here's the spin. Bush and Cheney say they aren't out to destroy the environment, they're just out to provide a little "balance." Balance? After clear-cutting the forest, strip-mining the land, polluting the air and water and destroying the wilderness, where's the balance on the other side? There is none. There is no environment left. George Bush has declared war on the environment. Quick! Does Ralph Nader still believe there's no difference between Bush and Gore?" --Bill Press, 3/23/01
"How Bush Operates Behind Closed Doors
Jim E. Kennedy was an engineer for the Dupont Corporation when this memo was written in 1997. He is now retired.
"Editor's Note: This memo was written by Mr. Kennedy, an engineer with Dupont, on Friday, June 20th, 1997. Offering a rare glimpse into how Governor George W. Bush governs behind closed doors, it describes Kennedy's bewilderment at the governor's plan to let industry write its own pollution rules. Kennedy wrote the memo after attending a secret meeting at Exxon where he learned that some of Texas's biggest polluters had orchestrated a deal with the governor to enact new environmental laws with "no meat, with respect to actual emissions reductions," as Kennedy puts it.
"The memo makes it clear that Governor Bush was willing to bypass the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC), the state regulator. The memo was emailed to TNRCC, from whom it was obtained through a Texas Open Records act request, filed by the Texas SEED Coalition, an Austin non-profit." --TomPaine.com
Click here to locate the key paragraph.
Subject: Grandfathered Meeting
From: Jim E. Kennedy, Dupont
To: "FISHER@TXCHEMCOUNCIL.COM"@ESDS01@MRGATE, "BALLEN@DOW.COM"@ESDSO1@MRGATE, "SCOOK@IBM.NET"@ESDS01@MRGATE, "BRYSON01@SSW.ALCOA.COM"@ESDS01@MRGATE, "EGFIES@CCMAIL.MONSANTO.COM"@ESDS01@MRGATE, Jon, Ed, Steven, Bernie, and Mark --
Attached are my internal notes from the meeting yesterday in case they are of any value to you.
I attended the meeting at Exxon yesterday. There were approximately 40 people in attendance--I would guess representing 15-20 companies. Most were from the oil & gas industry, although Texas Utilities and Simpson Paper were represented, and Bernie Allen (Dow), Steven Cook (Lyondell Petrochemical), Mark Bryson (Alcoa), and myself were there from the chemicals industry.
Exxon and Amoco made the presentations, with occasional contributions from Marathon. It was a very strange meeting to me in that the approach of the presenters was pretty much like, "This is the way it's going to be--do you want to get on board or not?" The feeling of at least three of the chemicals folks there seemed to be 'Not". I'll try to explain. Conoco will, I'm sure, make their own decision as to whether or not they will participate. A "delcaration" (sic) letter will be mailed out with the meeting minutes/materials, Please let me know who in Conoco would like to get copies of this information.
The draft concept paper (attached) was developed by a very small (2-3) group of companies from upstream oil & gas. Amoco presented the paper to the group at the meeting as something that has been agreed to at high levels and was not subject to change. After a number of protestations from around the table, Exxon moderated that stance somewhat by saying that good ideas for change/additions could be considered. Amoco basically said that they had better be real good ideas.
The belief was clearly communicated at the meeting that this industry group was going to be in the leadership role in transforming the concepts into a program that would be approved by the Governors Office. The term "TNRCC" did not even appear in the overheads that were used in the meeting. There were references to TNRCC participation ranging from "participate with us" to "call them in as a resource." My input was that this is neither a desirable nor a realistic approach. [House Bill] 3019 clearly gives responsibility for development of this program to the TNRCC and I believe that the commissioners take that legislative mandate quite literally. I told the group that I believe that TNRCC will be in the lead on this very soon. Clearly, the "insiders" from oil & gas believe that the Governors Office will "persuade" the TNRCC to accept whatever program is developed between the industry group and the Governors Office. I don't believe that will be the case.
There was some discussion about public input and support. The concept put forward was that the industry group and the Governor's Office would develop the program, then take it to some broad-based group, including public representatives, who would then tweak it a little bit and approve it. I told them that this was dreaming in today's environment -- to think that industry wuld put together a detailed program on this hot subject, then take ft to such a group and expect any kind of buy-in. If support from the "public" is a goal, they will have to be involved much earlier in the process. This thought was pretty much dismissed-I believe mainly because the leadership doesn't have any real value for public involvement.
The structure of this group is clearly set up for individual company participation, rather than participation as representing a trade association. I believe this would be very uncomfortable for chemicals. Our culture is that individual companies don't like to get In the "lone ranger" position on high-profile, high-impact initiatives. We are going to have to get our heads together and decide how the chemicals industry is going to work this initiative. That certainly will be influenced by the signals we get from the TNRCC around "process".
The concept paper has no 'meat" with respect to actual emissions reductions. One of the leaders actually stated that emissions reductions was not a primary driver for the program. I know for a fact that in the mind of at least one TNRCC commissioner, emissions reductions IS the primary driver for the program.
The chemicals and refining companies represented expressed a very high level of concern about the health effects review aspect of the concept. This is something that was overlooked by the crafters, primarily I believe because they were not thinking of large, complex facilities when the concept paper was developed. The concerns in this area center around:
The TNRCC would most certainly want to review the potential health effects for a large, multi-source grandfathered facility in a collective manner -- not one source at a time. Because of the extremely conservative nature of the technical health effects review process, these facilities would not pass muster on paper.
This concern was answered by the leaders of this group by saying that TNRCC management had agreed to implement a different, less rigorous health effects review procedure for grandfathered facilities than they use for new facilities. Chemicals industry input was that if TNRCC management said that, they will have to eat their words before this process reaches its end point. Such a position is indefensible to the public, and would most certainly be vigorously opposed by the Toxicology & Risk Assessment group at the TNRCC.
BUSH USES THINK TANK AS TROJAN HORSE FOR MEDIA PROPAGANDA.
PAINTING GEORGE W. GREEN
Again, one of Governor George W. Bush's supporters is trying to reinvent him as a friend of the environment. It's still not true.
In the heat of the Bush primary battle with Senator John McCain, billionaire Bush ally Sam Wyly created a phantom environmental group to paint the governor green. This time around it's a New York Times' op-ed written by Lynn Scarlett, who the newspaper identifies as executive director of the Reason Public Policy Institute.
We don't know whether the Times was aware that Ms. Scarlett is one of the Bush campaign's environmental advisors. (That fact was reported in the National Journal and Detroit News; the day the op-ed appeared a spokesperson for Ms. Scarlett identified her as an "informal advisor.") Presumably, that would make her a candidate for a political appointment if Bush is elected - an important fact that readers would have been better served if they had known.
Readers might also be interested in knowing that among the board members of Scarlett's Reason Public Policy Institute is David H. Koch, whose family oil business - Koch Industries - is one of the nation's most notorious polluters. The company neglected to inspect its pipelines for years, causing hundreds of oil spills. Koch recently paid $30 million in fines to the Environmental Protection Agency, and is the subject of two investigations by the agency. This is precisely the type of company whose environmental interests Bush represents.
Those matters aside, what's most interesting about the article is the verbal gymnastics that Scarlett indulges to make it seem like Bush cares about the environment.
Anyone with even a moderate dose of cynicism would likely have read between the lines of Ms. Scarlett's article to see that Bush doesn't have much to brag about.
For example, Ms. Scarlett extols the governor for the accomplishments of a program which, she writes, was "started by Governor Ann Richards, in 1992;" Bush "expanded" it. Governor Richards's program is the only example Scarlett offers of real pollution cuts.
And while she brags that Texas led the nation in reducing toxic emissions before 1997, she leaves out the fact that Texas still far outstrips the rest of the nation in producing them (nearly ten times worse than New York), making that accomplishment less impressive. The state also accounts for nearly half the country's hazardous waste. (See TomPaine.com's full coverage of the Bush record.)
Ms. Scarlett hones in on a Bush conservation initiative with a budget that, she boasts, has climbed from $100,000 to a whopping $2.5 million. Perhaps it's telling that Scarlett would waste valuable New York Times op-ed page real estate on a program that's barely a spec on the radar screen of Texas's mammoth economy.
Scarlett makes clear that Bush's supporters among the landed aristocracy have no need to fear that the $2.5 million initiative was wasted on some save-the-cockroaches tree-huggers. She writes, "it is the first government plan in the country to pay qualified landowners up to $10,000 to help conserve rare species on their property" [emphasis added]. Scarlett inexplicably goes on to hail the conservation measures as "voluntary," despite the taxpayer subsidies. We wonder whether Mr. Bush plans to use federal taxes to fund a welfare-for-the-landowners program.
Perhaps voters would have been better served if Scarlett revealed that the big environmental bucks during Bush's tenure went down the drain, thanks to one of the governor first "accomplishments" in office: helping to gut the state's auto emissions testing program. Not only did this protract the urban air quality crisis, but Texans ended up paying a $140 million legal settlement to Tejas Testing, a company that was driven into bankruptcy by the move. Adding insult to injury, the money came from Texas's clean air fund. Compare that to Bush's $2.5 million for conservation-conscious landowners.
Scarlett credits "the Bush plan" with "aim[ing] to cut nitrogen oxide emissions in half by 2003." The problem is there never was any Bush plan on the environment, other than to protect the interests of the nation's biggest polluters, from whom he has received millions in campaign contributions.
Tom "Smitty" Smith, of Texas Public Citizen, who locked horns with the Bush administration in the legislative fight to bring relief to the state's beleaguered breathers, knows better. In contrast to Scarlett's "Bush plan" on the environment, Smitty says that, at best, Bush had his arm twisted into throwing some bones to environmentalists, in an effort to achieve his own legislative goals on behalf of Texas corporations.
At worst, Bush was guilty of contriving to scuttle the state environmental agency's efforts to address the woeful air. The situation was urgent: if Texas didn't shape up it would face federal sanctions. Dan Eden, who is with Texas's environmental agency, told TomPaine.com last year that "frankly, we needed to do something," about the air problem. But when polluters caught wind that the agency was going to act, they ran to their friend in the governor's mansion. Eventually, Bush engineered a voluntary pollution reduction program (see a TomPaine.com exposť on Bush's back-room deal). Few outside the polluter-Bush alliance expect the program to yield any significant emissions reductions.
Polls have shown that the vast majority of Americans care about the environment. Since the voluntary emissions reduction program is the one that really has the governor's fingerprint on it, voters should consider this initiative in determining whether to support Bush.
Voters should know that the voluntary program is nothing more than a corporate public relations ploy engineered by Governor Bush, and a ruse to fool Texans into thinking that their elected officials are doing something about the air they choke on every day.
The fact is the big grandfathered polluters in Texas - some of Bush's most generous campaign donors - have no intention of reducing their pollution. They've had the three decades since the passage of the Clean Air Act to do it voluntarily. Some have - notably some of the more progressive chemical companies. The ones that remain - smelters, oil companies and other old stinkpots - will never do so unless they are forced to.
Some Texans contend that big business's strategy for dealing with the air pollution crisis in Texas is to elect Governor Bush to the presidency, and then have him gut the Clean Air Act.
Indeed, a voluntary emissions reduction program not only flies in the face of a corporation's legal obligation to maximize its shareholders' investment, it is unfair to those companies that actually want to be good environmental stewards. Under the voluntary program, a Texas company that decides to invest money to clean up its act, for example, will be at a competitive disadvantage to one that decides to spend the money in some other way. So virtually none have, and none will.
Polluters understand this. Bush's voluntary plan - developed behind closed doors with the state's biggest polluters -- was too weak even for an engineer from Dupont. The engineer wrote that the Bush plan "had no "meat with respect to actual emissions reductions," and that one of the plan's architects "actually stated that emissions reductions was not a primary driver for the program." Bush pushed through the plan anyway. (See the full story on TomPaine.com.)
The fact is, cutting pollution in Texas should have been a priority. Bush, instead, positioned himself as the polluter's lapdog, and it's hurting all Texans, including workers. According to the Dallas Business News, in some urban areas the air quality is so bad that new businesses are having a hard time getting air pollution permits for their emissions.
Compare Texas to California. They both have the same challenges - dense population, heat, humidity, automobile-centric cities and booming economies. California has addressed its air issues; Texas, under Governor Bush, has balked. --David Case,
©2000 The Florence Fund. TomPaine.com
BUSH WANTS TO...COUGH ! COUGH! SNIFF ! KACK! KACK ! COUGH !...SORRY."
"Last October high school athletes in the Houston suburb of Deer Park experienced coughing fits, difficulty breathing and other forms of respiratory distress during one of the worst smog episodes in the Houston area in years. Angry parents began demanding that schools be notified when the air is particularly bad so strenuous student activities can be curtailed....
"When Bush became governor, "his first appointment to the state's environmental protection agency, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission, was Ralph Marquez, an executive who had spent 30 years with the Monsanto Chemical Company and had served as the chairman of the environmental regulation committee of the Texas Chemical Council, a trade association....
"That was in 1995. Three weeks after Mr. Marquez's appointment, the commission used its muscle to thwart a plan, already in the works, to issue smog health advisories that would warn residents whenever there were particularly high ozone levels in and around Houston. The business types in Houston hate health advisories and anything else that calls attention to the city's dirty air. It's bad for business. Just give the kids some cough drops....
The Washington Post reports that George W. Bush has taken a Texas-size step onto Al Gore's turf by introducing his own environmental plan, which is heavy on business-friendly "brownfields" programs. (The programs encourage businesses to rehabilitate pollution-blighted sites.) The Rust Belt audience for Bush's announcement didn't exactly deafen him with cheers, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Texas governor, according to the Associated Press, also took a shot at Gore's greener-than-thou tome "Earth in the Balance." "I think the vice president is probably going to have to explain what he meant by some of the things in his book," Bush said. Bush will surely be especially interested in Gore's explanation, since he later acknowledged that he has never read the book.
Gore's campaign, the AP reports, greeted the Bush plan with outright contempt, calling Texas "the most polluted state in the country." -- Alicia Montgomery 4/4/00
Bush Environmental Plan is Conservative Republican. "In choosing brownfields as the topic of his first environmental speech, Bush picked an issue that enjoys broad support among Republicans, particularly moderate governors such as New Jersey's Christine Todd Whitman. On other environmental issues, Bush has tended to side with the more conservative leaders of his party; for example, he supports oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while opposing the United Nations' 1997 Kyoto protocol that requires industrialized countries to cut emissions of "greenhouse" gases blamed for global warming. Gore also has supported brownfields initiatives, both as a candidate and as vice president. But Bush's claim to be an environmental reformer drew scoffs yesterday from the Gore campaign, which noted that Texas slashed its budget for cleanup of hazardous waste sites by half--from $44 million to $22 million--from 1997 to 1998." more
The Bush Texas Environmental Record. "No amount of whitewashing can cover up Bush's record," Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said. "He allowed his special-interest friends to help weaken environmental laws, and on his watch Texas is now the most polluted state in the country."
"Texas's abysmal ranking as one of the worst states for air and water pollution has long been a source of ammunition for Bush's political foes. In January, the Washington-based League of Conservation Voters singled out Bush as having the weakest environmental record of the major presidential candidates; other environmental groups have assailed the governor for relying on voluntary cooperation by industries to reduce air pollution.more
Photo: Houston is #1 for U.S. Smog.
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