By the time
you read this article, it will be less than two months until Election
Day. As November 2nd approaches, I'm hopeful that Sierra Club
members are beginning to examine the environmental policies and
actions of candidates. It's the time of year when many candidates-deserving
or not-attempt to wrap themselves in the mantle of "Environmental
Protector." The Bush administration is no exception.
may be confused about what the Bush administration has been doing
to protect our environment and public health. That's understandable,
when one considers that our water now is getting dirtier for the
first time in 30 years, that America has stopped funding toxic
waste cleanup, and that the administration has removed protections
for more land than the great Conservation President Teddy Roosevelt
managed to protect during his entire presidency.
what the Bush administration means when they say one thing but
do another, we've developed a quick reference guide:
Forests Initiative - leave no tree behind. Pretend to protect
our forests while allowing more logging. Couple the HFI with the
Bush Administration's desire to repeal the Roadless Area Conservation
Rule, and the result is opening up the Ozark and Ouachita National
Forests for logging in previously protected areas. Healthy Forests?
More like healthy profits for the timber companies, at the expense
of Arkansas citizens.
solution is to target Forest Service projects around communities
at greatest risk from wildfire, and thin the fire-prone small
trees and brush while protecting old growth and leaving the fire-resistant
big trees standing.
Skies" Initiative - Allow our dirty old power plants to continue
polluting. The Bush administration's Environmental Protection
Agency has proposed weakening programs that would require power
plants built last century to meet modern pollution control standards.
More pollution in our air means more public health problems, especially
asthma in young children.
solution would be to simply enforce the existing Clean Air Act
to clean up dirty coal plants and keep making progress on cleaner
- A truly mercurial policy. The Food and Drug Administration has
issued warnings to pregnant women to avoid eating tuna fish because
mercury from the water, since mercury is a known toxin that causes
developmental problems in young children. On the other hand, the
administration's EPA proposes to delay mercury cleanup at coal-fired
power plants, the major source of airborne mercury contamination
A more consistent
solution is to simply enforce previous programs to clean up mercury
from industrial sources so fish are safe for mothers and children
- Drill America first. Although the United States has only 3 percent
of the world's oil and imports nearly two-thirds of what we use,
the Bush administration has made using up our supply of nonrenewable
fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, the top priority for
our public lands, from our last remaining jewels like the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to ranch land and forests across the
Rocky Mountain West.
solution is to develop renewable solar and wind energy and increase
energy efficiency, including miles per gallon standards for vehicles.
(global warming) - "Science, Schmience" The administration
has ignored worldwide concern and general scientific agreement
that global climate change is real, happening and could be caused
by industrial pollution.
A more responsible policy is to support
the Kyoto agreement on limiting air pollution from coal-fired
plants, among other sources of carbon dioxide, and lead the world
to a cleaner and safer energy future.
So the next
time that you are confused by the language used by the Bush administration
to describe their environmental policies, take a second look.
Clean air, clean water, and open spaces are too critical for us
to ignore. It's time for this administration to stop using pretty
words to hide not-so-pretty actions. It's time for the Bush administration
to stop putting polluters before the public, and be up-front with
the American people - for our families, and for our future.