Thursday :: Nov 13, 2003

New Victories in the Republican War on the Environment

by Mary

Posted by Mary
The war in Iraq is not going very well, but Bush and the radicals are racking up win after win against the environment.

So just what does Senator Kit Bond have to say about the environment? "Eat my shorts." Wednesday the Senate passed a rider attached by Senator Bond to a large funding bill to prevent California from regulating small engine pollution because, as he says, it would cost jobs in Missouri. Evidently, California's problems are not important to the Senate. California's air during the last year has grown increasingly bad, allowing George W Bush to fulfill his campaign pledge to do to the rest of the country what he had done for Texas. The slap at California was not taken lightly by the new Governor-elect who had campaigned on cutting air pollution in half by the end of the decade. Considering Schwarzenegger didn't have many campaign promises, it wasn't very nice for his fellow Republicans to make keeping that promise harder. But, why let a little dirty air in California get in the way of Bond getting his fair share of the campaign contributions from the companies that lobbied against California's regulation.

Senator Bond was given more help in whacking the environment from the Bush administration when Craig Manson, assistant Interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, stopped the publication of a report from agency biologists that recommended managing the Mississippi River more naturally with heavier flows in the spring and lighter flows in summer.

Responding to objections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the report's suggestions would economically inconvenience dam owners and the Missouri River's barge industry, Manson penned a three-paragraph memo ordering a second opinion on Missouri River management. This opinion is to be provided by a "special national team of [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service experts ... referred to as 'the Wise Guys' or the 'SWAT Team,' [which] has served well in other complex, high-interest consultations,'" he wrote, with nary a trace of irony to soften the mafia-boss language. The replacement biological SWAT team will reach its conclusions after a 45-day study; the original team's findings were based on more than 10 years of research and were confirmed by independent peer review as well as by the National Academy of Sciences.


Equally calamitous could be the long-term political costs of jettisoning sound science to curry favor with industry, said Eric Eckl, director of media affairs for American Rivers. "This is just the latest chapter in a politically complicated book called 'War and Peace over the Missouri River.'" The central villain in this novel, said Eckl, is Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), a strong supporter of the barge industry who seems convinced that any kind of environmental protections for the river will sabotage his state's economy. His paranoia has been swallowed whole by the Bush administration: In August, President Bush attended a fundraiser for Bond and declared that no federal agency should govern the flow of the longest river in America.

One consequence that comes from this decision was that a number of the biologists who worked on that report have been given their walking papers. Scientists giving the wrong answer to environmental issues are in danger of getting a pink slip, whereas "scientists" who provide the answer industry wants get promoted.

As Grist says about Bush's standard operating procedure on the environment:

... this administration's M.O. is simple: If you don't like the science, change the scientist.

Evidently this works really well, because recently in Florida after decades of research showing that wetlands are an essential piece in purifying water for human use, new studies under the Bush regime show that wetlands actually cause pollution and therefore, it is a good thing to fill them in to create golf courses. Evidently if you measure the water quality in particular places (like right next to the freeway or downstream of fields of sugar cane) the wetlands show elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphates and, therefore, the environment is better off without them. (Another stark case of black is white in George W Bush's world.)

Every week, the radical Republicans find new ways to assault the environment. And every one of their victories leaves the environment in worst shape and diminishes the quality of life for all Americans. Most years only a few people rate the environment as their top issue for picking one candidate over another. Yet, if you care about what kind of world you leave for your children, getting rid of Bush and cleaning out the worst of the environmental bashers must be a top priority. So talk to your family and friends about this issue and make sure they know the real Bush record on the environment.

Mary :: 7:59 AM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!