Friday :: Oct 31, 2008

George Bush Fills Campaign Promise From 2000

by Mary

When George Bush ran for President in 2000, he promised to "do for America what he did for Texas." And one of the areas he was most concerned about doing was bringing the Clean Air Policies he enacted in Texas to all Americans so we could all enjoy the dirty air of Houston and his industry friends could have the freedom to pollute they had in Texas. As his last parting gift to the grateful country, George Bush is planning to enact those promises at the last minute and in a way that will make it very hard to undo.

Here's what I wrote about his promises in December 2003:

When Governor Bush ran for President in 2000, he ran on a record where Texas ranked #1 for the dirtiest air in the country. In fact, under his watch, the air in Texas grew dirtier while elsewhere, like Los Angeles, the air got cleaner.

Just why did the air get worse in Texas during this time? In 1996, the regulators in Texas were ready to clamp down on the biggest polluters in Texas. Just in time, George Bush rode to the rescue of these beleaguered corporations. Under the direction of Ralph Martinez, his appointee to the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC - the Texas agency equivalent to the EPA), some major industry representatives came up with a voluntary pollution abatement program concerning "grandfathered" plants. This program was created without any public involvement, but with lots of industry input. Once all the parties (industry and Bush's representatives) agreed to the terms, the TNRCC was asked to vote on it. Since the commission members had been appointed by Bush, the results were predictable: the seven industry representatives voted for it while the four citizen/environmental representatives voted to against it. [Source: TX PEERS]

Grandfathered industrial plants are those plants that were "grandfathered in" when the original clean air law was enacted in 1970. In the case of energy companies, any power plant that was built before the laws were enacted is exempt from stricter regulations unless they undergo a major upgrade to increase the capacity of a plant. For these plants, emission levels were grandfathered to the pre-1970s levels with the belief that within a few years they would be taken offline for cleaner, more efficient plants. In the 1970s no one ever expected these plants to still be polluting at the same (or greater) levels in 2003.

Bush likes to talk about measuring results. I agree that setting standards and measuring results can be quite effective in making sure programs work. For this program, the targets set for reducing the amount of "grandfathered" emissions was to cut out 25,000 tons out of the 900,000 tons emitted in 1996 (or 3% of the total).

After the program had been put into effect, the measured success was one sixth of the 3% target. How did this dismal result change the program? Well, not at all. Under Bush's standards, despite the fact that voluntary commitments did not reach the promised goals, there were no consequences.

That was in Texas.

The Washington Post writes today:

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

...Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that is strenuously opposed by Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups.

One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA's estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming.

Bush is bound and determined to do as much damage as he can before he leaves. And he continues to do everything he can to prove he is The.Worst.President.Ever. Obama can't help but look good even if he only does a decent job as President.

Mary :: 11:15 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!