Posted by Mary
Today there were two victories for the Environmental Community. In one, a Judge stopped Bush's rules to greatly increase the number of snowmobiles into Yellowstone National Park. Bush's EPA had decided that rather than banning all snowmobiles from Yellowstone as proposed under Clinton's EPA, they would increase the number of snowmobiles allowed, because they said the new snowmobiles were cleaner and quieter and that the needs of the snowmobilers overrode all other needs. Today the judge declared the Bush rule null and void.
"The gap between the decision made in 2001, and the decision made in 2003 is stark," Judge Sullivan wrote. "In 2001, the rule-making process culminated in a finding that snowmobiling so adversely impacted the wildlife and resources of the parks that all snowmobile use must be halted."
Judge Sullivan continued, "A scant three years later, the rule-making process culminated in the conclusion that nearly 1,000 snowmobiles will be allowed to enter the park each day."
The ruling included a footnote saying that "there is evidence in the record that there isn't an explanation for this change," and that the revised environmental impact statement "was completely politically driven and result oriented."
The judge, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, decided that there were other considerations that needed to be taken into account, including the need to protect the park for future generations:
"Quite simply, [the National Park Service's] conservation mandate can rarely be trumped by other considerations," Sullivan wrote in his ruling.
For the second, Steve's post reported that the Bush administration has abandoned their proposed rules that would have significantly damaged the Clean Water Law. The proposed rule changes would have removed any disconnected wetlands (like the prairie potholes) plus any rivers or streams that were dry for over 6 months out of the year, leaving them vulnerable to dumping or fills without any environmental review. The Bush administration had to abandon this rule because they had gotten so much push back, including a number of Congressional members and Senators who felt that our Clean Water Laws should not be arbitrarily changed.
Thank goodness the Bush plans have been dealt a blow on these two fronts, but it is not enough. Keeping a sharp eye on their goals for subverting our environmental laws is necessary if we are to have any legacy to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Fortunately, on this front, we have Bobby Kennedy Jr doing his part to help alert us to the dangers.