Tuesday :: Jul 13, 2004

Bush must go

by Duckman GR

Note: My bolds and underlines throughout. Also, this may be long, but reads fast (he hopes, eying the clock wistfully)! And lastly, soccerdad inspired me to finish this post I started last month. Thanks Dad!!

George Bush is after another trifecta, I suppose. This time it's our Good Will, our Laws, and our Environment.

We know about their assault on the Constitution through vehicles like the Patriot Act, through Fee Speech Zones, through all the threats to critics of His Boy Kingness.

The loss of our Good Will was amply evident during his brief visit to the Emerald Isle, if nothing else.

"One can only assume that if (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern is prepared to deploy tanks, he is also prepared to use them on the Irish people," said Roger Cole, chairman of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance protest group. "That is a disgrace."

And that brings us to our environment. Bill Moyer's NOW gave us a magnificent example of Bushco in action against the Environment.

You just have to wonder what planet do these people plan on living on, the way they conduct their business. This is not a new social development, this slash and burn. Cultures constantly exhaust their local environment, move on, and repeat, and at some point, like the Anasazi, fall by the wayside.

This isn't limited to cultures either. Take the great cod fisheries of the Grand Banks, or the Left Coast fisheries of today. We use it up, then move on to the next subject. Just like we're doing with oil.

But we can't do that with the environment, because there's no "next" place to go. Yet Bushco and their corporate cronies act as if there is. Mercury in our fish? No problem. We'll cut mercury emissions. Well, sortof, maybe, eventually, ....... okay, not really. Just don't eat fish. Catch and release. That's it.

In a classic of the Neo Anality way of doing business, rather than deal with mercury, their first thought is to declare victory, and go home. Mercury a deadly toxin? That name seems kind of harsh, we'll weave a new designation for it. Hence forth it will be an industrial pollutant.

That sounds bad, but not quite as bad as Toxic Poisons.

• MACT rules as applied by the Clinton EPA would reduce power-plant mercury emissions from 48 tons per year now to about 5 tons by 2007, with every facility required to use the best available controls.

• The emissions-trading approach prepared by the Bush EPA would reduce emissions to 34 tons per year by 2018

To summarize, Mercury regulations are going to be imposed for the first time on power plants, which produce 40 percent of the stuff that gets in our envoironment. But the EPA, George W Bush's EPA don't forget, wants to treat this deadly toxin as just another pollutant, and wants to take 15-20 years to get fully implemented. This is vintage Bush management.

Because they don't just cater to the industry, they let the industry write half the regulations. And, they let a bunch of bureaucrats make scientific or technical decisions. As Jeffrey Holmstead, the assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA, says:

BRANCACCIO [David Brancaccio, Co-Host of NOW, with Bill Moyers]: The White House Office of Management and Budget was actually editing the EPA's language on the health effects of mercury.

KEATING [Former EPA scientist Martha Keating, now at the non-profit group Clear the Air]: This page has to do with health effects. And talks about pregnant women and children. And the effects on the developing fetus. I'll read it to you. ... "In pregnant women, methylmercury can be passed on to the developing fetus. And at sufficient exposure, may lead to a number or neurological disorders in children." And here's the line that's deleted, "These disorders can lead to learning disabilities, delayed development, and in severe cases, such as acute poisoning, cerebral palsy."

BRANCACCIO: Crossed right out.

KEATING: Crossed out.

BRANCACCIO: By the White House Office of Management and Budget?

KEATING: That's correct.

BRANCACCIO: Does the White House's Office of Management and Budget have the authority to, I don't know, downplay the health effects of mercury like this?

HOLMSTEAD [Jeffrey Holmstead, the assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA]: I don't think there was… first of all, this is the typical process that we and every agency always follows. ..... And my impression is that there were people who thought that our original draft overstated the certainty with which we knew some of these things. So, I was not directly involved in many of those conversations. [typical weasel, blah blah blah, but it's not my fault]


BRANCACCIO: The line that got crossed out was, "These disorders can lead to learning disabilities, delayed development and in severe cases such as acute poisoning, cerebral palsy." You're personally okay with that being taken out?

HOLMSTEAD: Well, I honestly don't know what the studies are on cerebral palsy. It's not been a big issue. And so I don't know in that case.

Doesn't know, not his fault, doesn't care. Yep, that's a bush political appointee.

And those OMB folks are big time medical professionals, right? Never mind the "authority," how about the expertise, the knowledge, the years of study, the scientific method, all that. As Holmstead says, I honestly don't know what the studies are on cerebral palsy.

Once again, politics triumphs over policy. We don't need no stinkin' regulations! Although this, on the rise of toxics in the past 2 years, and this on the Bush record on mercury, suggest otherwise.

And lastly, did I mention the little nugget about Mr. Holmstead?

In the transcript they discuss how Industry wrote some of the mercury bill. Latham and Watkins, and guess who used to work for them?

BRANCACCIO: So Keating [mentioned above] wondered if the EPA wasn't listening to its own expert advisors, who were they listening to? She began to search the public records.

KEATING: I began looking to see what had been submitted to the record. And what EPA was using to base its decision on.

I guess there were certain phrases that jumped out at me and I thought, "Well, wait a minute. You know, I really think I've seen that before." And went to my files and started to flip through the documents that had been provided to EPA by Latham & Watkins, and started to just match up sections of the document.

BRANCACCIO: Latham & Watkins is a law firm that participated in the EPA advisory group and represents a number of the power companies that will wrestle with new mercury rules. And when Keating read through the docket, she soon spotted that a number of the firm's arguments had made it into the EPA proposals. In some cases, almost word for word.

KEATING: At first, I was just so surprised. I mean, first, it was the concept, "Oh, yeah. You know I'm familiar with this." And then it was, "My gosh! These really are word-for-word." And I'm, you know, sending emails to my colleagues saying, "Are you reading this? Does it sound familiar?"

But then piecing together the exact wording really was quite a surprise. In many cases it provides the rationale, the basis for decisions that EPA made. And it was wording that was handed to them.

BRANCACCIO: Handed to them by an aggressive advocate for industry. In a September 2003 position paper presented to the EPA, Latham & Watkins argues that "a system-wide or pooled performance standard" — cap-and-trade — would be legal under a novel interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

Language that is pretty darn close to that ended up in the federal register where the EPA's proposals were published. Its just one of more than a dozen examples that Keating uncovered.


BRANCACCIO: Keating wasn't the only one who said they had that reaction. Jeffrey Holmstead, the man in charge of the EPA's proposed mercury rule, claimed he was too.

HOLMSTEAD: I was surprised. Ordinarily in a case like this, we would say, "You know, this was a suggestion that came from industry. And we're putting it out for public comment." In this case, it wasn't drafted by the EPA staff. It came in during the interagency process. And we had no way of knowing that it should've been attributed to a specific industry.

BRANCACCIO: It's just that I think people would expect that industry would be a robust participant of any rule-making that involves their industry. Just, you wouldn't expect industry to be seen as writing the language.


BRANCACCIO: In what may be just coincidence, it turns out that before Holmstead came to the EPA to run the air office, he worked as an attorney at Latham & Watkins, the same firm that wrote that language adopted by the EPA.

BRANCACCIO: You used to work at Latham & Watkins?

HOLMSTEAD: Yes. No, no. I absolutely… I and one of my close colleagues here were both at Latham & Watkins. But Latham & Watkins represents many industries. And this language didn't come in through me or through my colleague. It came in actually without our even knowing about it.

BRANCACCIO: So, I shouldn't worry about a conflict?

HOLMSTEAD: No. There's no conflict. It's certainly something people have tried to make hay out of. And I think that's unfortunate. And that's why I say, "Gee, I wish that someone had told me that this was an issue." And we would've said, "Here's an idea that's come in from an industry, and we ask for comment on it."

Gee, gosh, golly, I didn't know that.

I could cite example after example, and I will periodically to remind people and provide ammo, but the plain fact is that these cretins are trying to kill us, one way or another. They're after our livlihoods, our self esteem as Americans, our air and water, all in the name of greed, gluttony, and craven images.

Postpone the elections? You assholes, you want to make sure they happen!

They gotta go.

Duckman GR :: 12:46 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!