Study Finds Top Air Polluters Closely Tied to Bush Administration

May 06, 2004

The nation's top 50 polluting power plants are owned by corporations that are tightly allied with the Bush Administration both as major campaign contributors and in conducting pollution policymaking, according to a new study released yesterday. Conducted by two nonprofit, nonpartisan groups--the Environmental Integrity Project and Public Citizen--the study utilized data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

Ranking the polluters based on their emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, the report finds that sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide pollution actually increased from 2002-2003, thereby expanding risks of asthma attacks and lung ailments.

According to the report, America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Plugged into the Bush Administration, the firms cited in the study, along with their trade associations, met at least 17 times with Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

The report found that since 1999, the 30 largest utility companies owning the majority of the 89 dirtiest power plants in the study have contributed $6.6 million to the Bush presidential campaigns and the Republican National Committee. The 30 companies also hired at least 16 lobbying or law firms that have raised at least $3.4 million more for the Bush campaigns.

"It is no coincidence that a wholesale assault on the Clean Air Act is taking place today," said Eric Schaeffer, who founded EIP after resigning in early 2002 from his post as director of EPA's Office of Regulatory Enforcement, in protest of the administration's rollback of environmental protections. "This is a well-connected industry that is absolutely intent on preserving its 'right' to foul the air regardless of the consequences to the American people."

The study ranked the top 50 polluters for each of the three emissions (mercury, SO2, CO2). Because several companies were in the top 50 for more than one pollutant, the list totaled 89 power plants. Of those 89, some 47 have either been sued or placed under investigation by the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirement, under which plants that upgrade or expand must add expensive new clean technology.

Last August the EPA stirred a huge controversy by relaxing requirements for New Source Review, exempting many plants from the law's pollution control requirements. A federal court stayed the new rules, but as the report notes, "The result of the administration's policy, coupled with the program's current status in legal limbo, is that many of these companies have either had the cases against them undermined or simply dropped by the Bush Adminstration."

The study lists five former executives or lobbyists for the electric utility industry who have been placed in important regulatory posts in the Bush administration. One is assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, another is counsel to that office, and a third is deputy administrator of EPA. A fourth is now in charge of all government lawsuits against coal-fired power plants, and the fifth helped write national energy policy as assistant secretary at the Department of Energy.

The full report is available at


Source: http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/mt_archives/000112.php


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