23
Apr
2004

On Earth Day, EPA Plots to Weaken Clean Air Laws

//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.
//www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020422-1.html

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

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

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

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