Monday, July 14, 2003

Bush's Environmental Policy: Lie, Hide, Deceive, Dissemble, Obfuscate, Distort

It seems the Bush Administration's attempts to deceive the American public regarding the threat posed by Iraq were not limited to foreign policy. The same tactics are being used for environmental policy.
Agency employees say they have been told either not to analyze or not to release information about mercury, carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. This has prompted inquiries and complaints from environmental groups, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress
Jeremy Symons, former EPA climate policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, noted in a Washington Post article the Administration's inclination to head in the exact opposite direction of what was needed to address global warming:
With more than 80 percent of the nation's global warming pollution coming from the use of fossil fuels, the Bush energy plan dashed all hope for proposals to ease global warming. The plan, released in May 2001, made increased supplies of coal, oil and natural gas the priority in the coming decades.
What's the difference between the present time and past Republican efforts to weaken environmental protections? They have become very good at hiding and distorting the science:
When President Reagan pursued a more overt agenda of undermining the EPA's ability to regulate industry, aggressive congressional oversight led to the resignation of the EPA head, Ann Gorsuch Burford. Despite the similarly far reaching impact of the current administration's proposed rollbacks in clean water and air protections, Congress has been largely held at bay by the White House's adept control of information.
Hearkening back to the old days when even Republicans had some honor and respect for the science,
Former EPA administrator Russell Train responded in a letter to the New York Times. "Having served as EPA administrator under both Presidents Nixon and Ford, I can state categorically that there never was such White House intrusion into the business of the EPA during my tenure," he wrote. "The EPA was established as an independent agency in the executive branch, and so it should remain. There appears today to be a steady erosion in its independent status."
Congress will soon have an opportunity to reassert its respect for good science-based policy:
Soon Bush will pick a new head for the EPA. In the confirmation hearings, it will be incumbent upon senators to demand accountability not just from the nominee, but from the White House itself.
If that doesn't work, there's always an election coming up.