New Report Reveals Bush Environmental Damage State by State

US PIRG: "In a country that takes great pride in its entrepreneurial spirit, [environmental problems] should inspire our leaders to look for immediate solutions. Instead, the Bush administration has taken the opposite course-looking for opportunities to weaken, not strengthen, our environmental laws and please its allies in the oil, chemical, timber, electric utility, mining and other polluting industries. Each state in the Union will share the burden of the Bush administration's policies to weaken environmental protections; this report, by no means exhaustive, details some of the administration's harmful proposals and reveals how states will experience the very real, very local effects of these actions."


Executive Summary

On April 22, 1970, America celebrated its first Earth Day, demonstrating a national and truly bipartisan outpouring of concern for cleaning up the environment. According to some recollections of that day, "So many politicians were on the stump on Earth Day that Congress was forced to close down. The oratory, one of the wire services observed, was 'as thick as smog at rush hour.'" 1 In the decade that followed, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and other laws that form the cornerstone of our country's commitment to protect the environment and public health.

While we have seen measurable progress in environmental quality since 1970, we are far from achieving the original vision laid out by the authors of these landmarks laws. Too many Americans still breathe dirty air, and too many of our waterways remain polluted. Logging, drilling, mining, road-building and other development continue to take their toll on our forests, fragile coastlines and last wild places.

In a country that takes great pride in its entrepreneurial spirit, these problems should inspire our leaders to look for immediate solutions. Instead, the Bush administration has taken the opposite course-looking for opportunities to weaken, not strengthen, our environmental laws and please its allies in the oil, chemical, timber, electric utility, mining and other polluting industries.

Over the last three years, the Bush administration has proposed numerous policies to allow more pollution in our air and water, more logging in our national forests, and more drilling on sensitive public lands, while ignoring the pressing need to address global warming pollution, rapidly clean up toxic waste sites, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Although many of these proposals have been finalized, several remain pending-offering the administration another chance to reinforce, rather than undermine, the foundation of America's environmental laws.

These national policies have a profound effect on residents of every state of the union.

Air pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized two rules that eliminate the teeth of the Clean Air Act's New Source Review program and the primary enforcement mechanism for cutting soot and smog pollution from the nation's dirtiest power plants. In December 2003, EPA also proposed a new plan to weaken and delay efforts to clean up mercury emissions from the nation's 1,100 coal-fired power plants; this proposal is still pending. These policies will only exacerbate air quality problems across the country. Approximately 146 million Americans - or half of the population - live in areas where the air is unhealthy to breathe. Currently, 43 states have fish consumption advisories in effect because of mercury pollution in local waterways.

On a different note, in April 2004 EPA plans to finalize a promising proposal to clean up dirty diesel construction, farm, and industrial equipment. The rule would reduce pollution from these engines by more than 90 percent, preventing an estimated 9,600 premature deaths, 16,000 heart attacks, and nearly a million work days lost due to illness each year.

Global warming

EPA has taken no meaningful action to address global warming emissions from the nation's power plants, disavowing its authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant in August 2003. The agency has supported only voluntary measures to slow the rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Global warming could have profound effects on the country's environment and public health, including more frequent heat waves and extreme weather events. In 2002, the U.S. recorded almost $20 billion in losses due to weather-related disasters.

Water pollution

The Bush administration has proposed or enacted several policies to allow more pollution to enter our waterways. In January 2003, EPA signaled its intention to remove Clean Water Act protections for so-called "isolated" waterways; EPA rescinded this proposed rule in December 2003, but has yet to recall a guidance issued to EPA and Army Corps staff directing them to immediately stop protecting these waters. The administration also has weakened enforcement of the Clean Water Act; drafted plans to allow states to delay cleaning up polluted waters; and proposed new rules to allow inadequately treated sewage to enter our waterways. Already, more than 40 percent of our nation's waterways are too polluted for safe fishing or swimming.

Logging in national forests

Under the guise of fighting forest fires, the Bush administration signed its so-called Healthy Forests Initiative into law in December 2003. This new law makes it easier for the timber industry to cut down large, fire resistant trees while doing little to protect at-risk communities. The Forest Service also has announced plans to weaken the popular Roadless Area Conservation Rule by allowing governors to opt out of the rule altogether. The Roadless Rule would protect 58.5 million acres of the most pristine forest lands in the country from most logging and road-building.

Drilling on public lands

The Department of Interior is working to provide the oil and gas industry with easy access to our public lands, including wilderness areas and delicate ecosystems. The Interior Department has removed protections for millions of acres of wilderness, leaving them vulnerable to logging, road-building and development, and expedited the permitting process for oil and gas drilling projects in the west, especially Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

America's fragile coastlines

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is quietly rewriting the federal rules that grant states the authority to protect their coastlines from harmful federal activities. In July 2003, NOAA proposed changes to the Coastal Zone Management Act that would weaken the voice of state agencies in determining the environmental impacts of offshore federal operations and give greater weight to the opinions of federal agencies. These changes could undercut the right of California, Florida, and other states to protect their valuable coastlines from harmful activities, including oil and gas development.

Dependence on foreign oil

In December 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard that could make it easier for auto companies to qualify gas-guzzling SUVs and other light trucks for weaker fuel economy standards. The best way to cut our dependence on oil is to make vehicles go farther on a gallon of gas. With a 40-mpg fleetwide fuel economy standard, the U.S. could save up to $88 billion at the gas pump and conserve more than 50 billion gallons of oil annually by 2020.

Toxic waste cleanups

Superfund is the nation's preeminent law for making polluters clean up the country's most contaminated toxic waste sites. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has failed to support reinstating the "polluter pays" fees that help fund cleanup of abandoned sites, slowed the pace of cleanups, and forced taxpayers to pick up more of the bill for the cleanups that are happening. In 1995, the year Superfund's polluter pays fees expired, taxpayers paid for only 18 percent of abandoned Superfund cleanups, or $303 million. In 2004, American taxpayers are paying all costs for abandoned Superfund cleanups, or about $1.257 billion, an increase of 315 percent.

Exempting the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the most prolific polluters in the United States. The Pentagon, capitalizing on increased public sympathy for the military and desire for homeland security, has requested blanket exemptions from several environmental laws. Having already won exemption from the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, the DoD now wants amnesty from cornerstone laws designed to protect people living on and near military sites from exposure to toxic waste and air pollution. The DoD is responsible for 130 Superfund toxic waste sites in the U.S.-more than any other party.

Each state in the Union will share the burden of the Bush administration's policies to weaken environmental protections; this report, by no means exhaustive, details some of the administration's harmful proposals and reveals how states will experience the very real, very local effects of these actions.


1 John C. Whitaker, "Earth Day Recollections: What It Was Like When The Movement Took Off." EPA Journal. July/August 1988.


Bush Administration Muffles New Findings on Snowmobile Noise in Yellowstone

April 26, 2004

The Bush Administration is actively seeking to reopen Yellowstone National Park to snowmobiles. The administration not only overturned a Clinton-era ban on these vehicles in Yellowstone, but also appealed a court ruling that reinstated the ban.

The federal judge in that case called the administration's policy "completely politically driven" at the expense of sound science, at odds with the National Park Service's own findings on the machines' impacts on air quality and wildlife.

Now, an internal report prepared by Yellowstone staff shows that four-stroke snowmobiles emit enough noise to cause hearing damage. The study findings were finalized last month, but are as yet unreleased.

The Bush Administration is championing four-stroke snowmobiles in its ongoing attempt to reverse the snowmobile ban. It has not commented on the new findings publicly or in court. Instead they were revealed to the public last week by the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, a group of 230 retired employees of the National Park Service.[1]

At a weekly staff meeting on January 27, Yellowstone's safety officer reported, "four-stroke snowmobiles are almost as loud as two-stroke machines for the operator."[2] In 18 out of 20 noise tests at Yellowstone, rangers operating four-stroke snowmobiles and employees working close to snowmobiles were found to be exposed to noise levels over 100 decibels, louder than a pneumatic drill.

Yellowstone's snowmobile noise standard mandates a maximum of 73 decibels at full throttle. Yellowstone's Park Safety Office instructed park staff to wear hearing-protective earplugs when exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels. No such warnings have been issued to park visitors operating the same machines.[3]

The Coalition's Bill Wade told BushGreenwatch that the full findings from the Yellowstone snowmobile noise tests suggest that park staff working with visitors at entrance stations to Yellowstone may be at risk as well, due to exposure to damaging levels of noise.[4]

"It seems incongruous to us to have machines that require hearing protection in the country's first national park, which should be a flagship for natural preservation and natural quiet," said Wade. "The presence of this kind of noise contradicts the very values of the park. These machines have no place in Yellowstone."

National Park Service management policies make specific mention of "natural quiet," sometimes called "natural soundscapes," as a resource to be protected in national parks.[5] The NPS web site extols this subtle quality: "The natural soundscape is a component of any park setting that is intended to be managed or appreciated as natural, such as wilderness areas...sounds made by wind, birds, geysers, elk, wolves, waterfalls, and many other natural phenomena are associated by visitors with unique features and resources of parks they hold dear."[6]

The Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees is demanding that the Bush Administration be honest with the public about conditions in America's national parks. In addition to the unreleased data on snowmobile noise, the Coalition recently revealed instructions from the Interior Department to park managers, suggesting options for budget-trimming service cuts and how to hide them from the public and the media, as reported by BushGreenwatch March 18.

Email Bush and the Department of Interior to let them know you want the truth about environmental and health impact in America's parks.

[1] Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees press release, Apr. 14, 2004.
[2] Yellowstone Staff Meeting Minutes, Jan. 27, 2004.
[3] Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees press release, Apr. 14, 2004.
[4] Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Exposure Survey, Noise Dosimetry.
[5] National Park Service Soundscape-Related Policies.
[6] National Park Service Natural Sounds page.

China soll RFID schnellstens einführen

Während in Europa und den USA der Einsatz von Funkchips [RFID] weiter umstritten bleibt, setzt sich die Technologie in China offenbar schneller durch.

Warenproduktion für RFID-Vorreiter Wal-Mart lässt Einsatz von Funkchips steigen

Ausweiskarten sowie Blutkonserven werden mit RFID-Chips

Einführung in den USA und Europa vorerst aufgeschoben


Der größte Antrieb entsteht dabei durch die US-Einzelhandelskette Wal-Mart, die ab kommendem Jahr RFID-Chips in der Warenlogistik einsetzen will.


Laut Analysten kommen 60 bis 70 Prozent aller Waren bei Wal-Mart, die keine Nahrungsmittel sind, aus Asien.

Von 2005 bis 2007 sollen dabei jährlich geschätzte fünf Milliarden Chips auf Paletten und Kisten verwendet werden, so der chinesische Berater für RFID-Anwendungen Rocky Shi anlässlich der Konferenz RFID World 2004 diese Woche.


RFID für Blutkonserven

Daneben startet China mehrere nationale Projekte. So sollen alle Chinesen eine RFID-Identifikationskarte erhalten - das bedeutet über eine Milliarde Karten mit Funkchips. Laut Shi überlegt China die Karten für alle möglichen Anwendungen einzusetzen, also beispielsweise auch als Bankkarte, als Führerschein und Kreditkarte.


Auch im Gesundheitswesen sollen RFID-Chips zum Einsatz kommen. China verbraucht jährlich 47 Milliarden Blutbeutel, für deren Logistik und Überwachung von möglichen Krankheitsausbrüchen Funkchips eingesetzt werden sollen.


Nächste Woche wollen sich Vertreter der chinesischen Regierung, der chinesischen National Academy of Standards, einige Professoren und Forscher sowie EPCGlobal, zuständig für Entwicklung und den Einsatz des Barcode-Ablösers EPC [Electronic Product Code], treffen, um über Kompatibilitätsfragen und Standards zu diskutieren.


Ein Großteil der eingesetzten RFID-Technologie kommt derzeit noch von US-Firmen, doch Shi glaubt, dass in Zukunft auch China als Produzent eine große Rolle spielen wird, um den eigenen Bedarf decken zu können. Die erste chinesische RFID-Konferenz soll diesen September in Peking abgehalten werden.

Wal-Mart will elektronische Etiketten


RFID-Einführung vorerst verschoben

Wal-Mart musste zuletzt in den USA eine erste Frist für die Implemetierung der Chips verschieben: Medikamenten-Hersteller müssen nun doch nicht ab 1. April ihre Produkte mit RFIDs kennzeichen.

Die 100 wichtigsten Wal-Mart-Lieferanten sollen eigentlich zum 1. Jänner 2005 ihre Waren mit RFID-Chips versehen, sonst droht ihnen der Verlust ihres wichtigsten Kunden. Den Anfang sollten bereits in diesem Jahr die Pharma-Lieferanten machen.


Das von Wal-Mart gewünschte Tempo bei der Einführung der Funkchips für Massengüter scheint allerdings zu hoch zu sein: Die meisten Pharma-Lieferanten des Unternehmens können jedenfalls den Stichtag am 1. April nicht einhalten, weshalb er bis auf weiteres verschoben wurde.


Source: quintessenz-list Digest, Vol 13, Issue 14

Bush Wants to Make Some Patriot Act Provisions Permanent

While attending a campaign event in Buffalo, New York, where the first successful prosecution under the Patriot Act took place that he would like to see certain provisions of the Patriot Act due to expire next year become permanent. That case involved six Arab-Americans who pleaded guilty of violating the law by visiting a al Qaeda training camp in Afgahanistan prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Source: quintessenz-list Digest, Vol 13, Issue 14

Next Flavor of UHF for RFID

April 20, 2004

By Susan Kuchinskas

Some heavy hitters have lined up behind a proposed specification for the next generation of RFID (define) technology.

Thirteen companies, calling themselves the Unified Group, came out today in support of a proposed standard for ultra-high-frequency short-range communications.

The Class 1 Generation 2 technology, known as C1G2 or UHF Generation 2, would allow UHF, the most common frequency range used for case- and pallet-level tracking, to interoperate on an international level.

It's one of four competing to be designated as UHF Generation 2 by EPCglobal, the not-for-profit standards organization that's developing a universal electronic product code system and a global network to enable real-time, automatic identification of items in the supply chain.

Companies supporting the protocol include Royal Philips Electronics, (Quote, Chart) Texas Instruments, (Quote, Chart), Impinj, SAMSys Technologies, Q.E.D Systems, Intermec Technologies, UNOVA (Quote, Chart) and Applied Wireless Identifications Group (AWID).

Alien Technologies and Matrics, two RFID hardware suppliers, have put forth their own proposals, and the fourth is expected to be based on a variation of the proprietary Supertag protocol used in South Africa.

Donny V. Lee, chairman & CEO of AWID, a RFID component and sub-system supplier based in Monsey, N.Y., said his company's products support all the leading protocols, so making a decision to go in with the Unified Group was based as much on the business landscape as on technical factors.

While the data format is better than most, he said, "we looked at the maturity of the technology and also the group supporting each one, and decided the Unified Group is the one with the best opportunity to become the final standard." His group's proposed spec is based on technology developed by IBM and licensed to Intermec. "The company really pushing it is Phillips. They're the elephant in the room of little animals."

To date, there are two different protocols in use, Class 0 and Class 1, and they're not interoperable. That means that large retailers such as Wal-Mart or Target, which have mandated that their top suppliers begin to use RFID technology to automate the supply chain, either need to install two kinds of readers or else tell their suppliers what to use. Meanwhile, Matrics has added proprietary enhancements to its chips to add read/write functionality, dubbing them Class 0+.

"The reason Gen-2 is being developed is the use of UHF technology on a worldwide basis," said Dirk Morgenroth, segment marketing manager for Royal Philips Electronics, (Quote, Chart) a member of the Unity Group.

"After spending time and attention on mandates such as Wal-Mart's, initially kicking off in the U.S., suppliers require something that can be used worldwide, because Wal-Mart gets products worldwide. That's why they're driving this specification."

Gen-2 will be backwards compatible with both Class 0 and Class 1, so that a Gen-2 reader will be able to read both kinds of chips, according to Mike Meranda, vice president of strategic planning and development for EPCglobal.

EPCglobal is working to meet the needs of all the stakeholders: RFID hardware and chip manufacturers, retailers and suppliers.

Manufacturers want to know as soon as possible what the spec is going to be and to try to have it incorporate anything that might give them a competitive advantage. Suppliers don't want to get stuck with non-compliant materials.

"If I'm one of the 800 pound gorillas that are issuing mandates, I want to make sure my opinion is in the marketplace is heard," Meranda said. "But really what I'm concerned about is that my trading partners have access to chips that are low-cost and accessible, and no one feels they got stuck with something."

While EPCglobal might hold a technology bake-off to determine the best choice for the spec, Morgenroth said there are other influences that factor into decision-making for the products. "The full process is to have a specification for the product that serves the user requirements to the best way."

Meranda said that in addition to the four self-contained proposals, the EPCglobal working group also has various lists of requirements from the user community. "Over the next few months, we'll try to reconcile all those. It could be that one of the self-contained proposals gets us 95 percent there. Or it could be that it's not that easy." The draft standard is scheduled to be ratified by the EPCglobal technical steering committee in September 2004, and compliant tags and readers could enter the market early in 2005.

Source: quintessenz-list Digest, Vol 13, Issue 14

USA auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Wahlfiasko - Wahlreform gescheitert

Zusammenfassung des nachfolgenden englischsprachigen Artikels aus The Independent:

USA auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Wahlfiasko - Wahlreform gescheitert

Die nächsten Präsidentschaftswahlen in den USA drohen wieder ein Fiasko zu werden, sagt die US-Regierungskommission für Bürgerrechte, die vorher Unregelmäßigkeiten beim Ablauf der letzten Präsidentschaftswahlen in Florida untersucht hatte.

Wieder könnten ganze Bevölkerungsgruppen von der Wahl ausgeschlossen werden, denn Missstände wie mangelhafte Wahlmaschinen wurden nicht oder nur unzureichend beseitigt.

Im Jahre 2000 waren Tausende Wahlberechtigter vorwiegend schwarzer Hautfarbe fälschlicherweise als frühere Straftäter eingestuft und von den Wählerlisten gestrichen worden. Das besorgte eine Privatfirma, die von George Bushs Wahlkampf- Managerin Katherine Harris beauftragt worden war. Katherine Harris war gleichzeitig Landeswahlleiterin.

Hier das englischsprachige Original:

US heading for another election fiasco as reforms fail

The Independent April 22, 2004

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

The United States may be on the way to another Florida-style presidential election fiasco this year because legislation passed to fix the system has either failed to address the problems or has broken down because of missed deadlines and unmet funding targets.

Such is the conclusion of a damning new report by the US Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan government body which previously looked into the Florida mess and found alarming evidence of voter disenfranchisement among poor and minority groups, incorrectly compiled voter rolls and other glaring irregularities. "Many of the problems that the commission previously cautioned should be corrected yet prevail ... Unless the government acts now, many of those previously disenfranchised stand to be excluded again," the report said.

The commission's criticisms focused on the failure to implement President George Bush's Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, which promised $4bn (£2.3bn) to help states overhaul antiquated voting machinery - notably the notorious punchcard devices that caused so much trouble in Florida - and sought to set up a nationwide system of provisional voting for people who believe they have a right to vote but find themselves omitted from the official list.

It said that out of 22 key deadlines that have come and gone since the act's passage, only five have been met. Most seriously, an oversight committee designed to advise states on streamlining their voting procedures and implementing the act's provisions was not appointed until last December, 11 months behind schedule. Most states are unlikely to make reforms before the presidential election on 2 November.

In addition, the Bush White House has consistently proposed less money than promised by the act, so states that have passed their own reform legislation have found themselves crucially short of money for implementation.

On signing the act 18 months ago, Mr Bush said: "When problems arise in the administration of elections we have a responsibility to fix them. Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied."

Almost half of the states have requested exemptions from updating their voting equipment, and 41 out of 50 have requested extensions until 2006 to consolidate voter registration lists at state level so they can more easily be checked for accuracy. "It will be difficult if not impossible for states to build the necessary election infrastructure by November," it concluded.

The commission report can only heighten the anxieties of an electorate already alarmed by a growing controversy over touchscreen voting machines being introduced - with Hava money - in many parts of the South and West. The machines make meaningful recounts impossible and rely on software developed by companies with strong ties to President Bush and his Republican
Party. California is expected to decide this week whether to decertify its touchscreen machines.

The debate over the health of America's electoral procedures is turning into a partisan fight, with Republicans dismissing the concerns as Democratic politicking unworthy of serious examination.

When the Commission on Civil Rights convened an expert panel in
Washington this month to discuss its report, the Republican Party delegation walked out before the proceedings began, one panel participant, Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard University voting machinery expert, said.

In Florida during the 2000 election, thousands of eligible, predominantly black, voters were erroneously identified as former felons and purged from the voter rolls by a private company hired by Katherine Harris, who acted as the state's top electoral official and also as co-chair of George Bush's state campaign committee.

Proof of America's Aerosol Spraying


Informant: Laurel Den

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