23
Apr
2004

Environmentalists Challenge Bush's Earth Day Announcement

http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/mt_archives/000103.php

April 23, 2004

For Earth Day, President George W. Bush yesterday announced a new national wetlands policy to replace the "no net loss" goal adopted by his father, President George H.W. Bush, in 1988. President Bush announced a national goal to "go beyond 'no net loss'" of wetlands, saying his administration aims to achieve an overall increase in wetlands each year.

"For Earth Day, the President is trying to whitewash -- or 'greenwash' -- his anti-wetlands record because he knows the public wants clean water," Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice, told BushGreenwatch. "But trotting out a list of voluntary programs that already exist -- and calling them a new initiative while simultaneously dismantling the nation's most important wetlands protection law -- is not going to wash."

But environmental groups say the policies actually being implemented by the Bush Administration will result in more wetland destruction and water pollution, not less.

"The administration's current policies, including a directive removing protection from an estimated 20 million acres of wetlands under the Clean Water Act, virtually guarantee that our country will continue to lose both wetland function and acreage," said Julie Sibbing, wetlands policy specialist at the National Wildlife Federation.

According to a new report by NWF, America's Wetlands, Nowhere Near No-Net-Loss, the country's wetlands are in more trouble today than they have been in decades, because of policies set by the Bush Administration that increasingly expose these waters to pollution, dredging, and filling.[1]

Today there are approximately 110 million acres of wetlands in the continental U.S., according to the EPA. This is about half of the nation's original wetlands. Wetlands filter pollution from drinking water supplies, provide vital habitat for fish and wildlife, absorb floodwaters, and help maintain overall water quality.

In January, 2003, the Bush Administration issued a new policy directing EPA and Army Corps field staff to limit the kinds of wetlands and other waterways they protect under the Clean Water Act, thereby threatening about 20 percent of the lower 48 states' remaining wetlands with pollution or outright destruction.[2]

Other anti-wetlands policy initiated by the Bush Administration includes repealing the minimal requirement that every acre of wetlands filled or destroyed be replaced with at least one acre of new wetlands; and weakening the environmental standards for general permits to fill wetlands and streams.

"Given what we know about wetlands and their importance to both human and wildlife communities, we should expect much more from our government in terms of a plan to really achieve no-net-loss and to regain some of what has been lost in order to ensure a healthy future for generations to come," added Sibbing.


SOURCES:

[1] America's Wetlands, Nowhere Near No-Net-Loss, NWF.
http://www.nwf.org/nwfwebadmin/binaryVault/Nowhere_Near_No-Net-Loss.pdf

[2] EPA/Army Corps Memo, Jan. 16, 2003.
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/Joint_Memo.pdf

On Earth Day, EPA Plots to Weaken Clean Air Laws

http://www.misleader.org/daily_mislead/Read.asp?fn=df04222004.html

April 22, 2004

On Earth Day 2002, President Bush said that "we should do more at the federal level" to deal with air pollution1. But today on Earth Day, the Bush Administration has invited oil executives to a meeting with Environmental Protection Agency officials to discuss reducing air pollution standards.

Instead of proposing higher fuel efficiency standards or conservation measures to deal with high gas prices, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush Administration is meeting with oil executives to consider a plan to reduce pollution standards for gasoline2. The plan, which would permit more dangerous sulfur toxins in the air, would cut only a nickel off the price of a gallon of gas - and not in every market. Meanwhile, sulfur levels in the air would be permitted to rise, increasing smog and potentially raising the incidence of serious health problems. The EPA notes that sulfur has been associated with serious respiratory illness and asthma while also aggravating existing cardiovascular diseases3.

Of course, the president also has one other option to deal with the gas price crisis: instead of using the crisis to weaken environmental laws, he could simply pressure the Saudis to increase oil production. Last month the Saudis led the charge to reduce oil supplies and the result has been a major increase in American gas prices4. And while Bob Woodward's new book reports that the Saudis pledged to increase production before the November 2004, the president has so far refused to compel them to increase production now5. His refusal runs counter to his pledge as a candidate in 2000 to use the power of the White House to pressure oil-producing countries. As he said, "the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price"6.

Sources:

1. President Calls for Conservation and Stewardship on Earth Day, 04/22/2002.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020422-1.html

2. Wall Street Journal, 4/21/04.

3. US Environmental Protection Agency.
http://www.epa.gov/airnow/aqibroch/aqi.html

4. "Saudi envoy plays nice with White House on oil supply", USA Today, 04/02/2004.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0419-01.htm

5. "Saudi Envoy Promised Bush a Drop in Oil Prices Ahead of Election", Bloomberg News, 04/19/2004.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0419-01.htm

6. "Fuel oil prices skyrocket in frigid New Hampshire; and candidates talk tough", CNN, 01/29/2000.
http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/01/29/fuel.cnn/

Action: End "Scientific" Whaling

Petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/13617

One of the earliest environmental movements was the effort to save the whales of the world. We made progress with the creation of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Sadly, over 20,000 whales have been killed since commercial whaling was banned in 1986. How? Partly because a loophole allows any nation to issue itself a permit to kill any number of whales "for the purposes of scientific research." Yet, the whale meat is sold in supermarkets later!

More than 1,400 whales are expected to suffer a long and torturous death this year alone. Sign this petition to Japan's Ministry of the Environment, urging them to stop flouting our international agreement to protect whales.

http://www.care2.com/go/z/13617
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