Note from the Publisher

For the San Diego Earth Times, the Bush Administration's unrelenting attack on decades of hard-won environmental protections is THE story of the year. Never before has a federal administration shown such reckless disregard for the preservation of America's natural heritage and the health of its citizens. Please read this article and see if you don't agree.

Whether the reason for the attacks is greed, ignorance, indifference or outright malice, if our environment and quality-of-life are high on your priority list I hope you will take action... in the polling booth. We cannot afford another 4 years of the current federal administration.

This is a long article, with extensive citations. We've moved the citations to a separate web page; click the "citations" tag at the end of each section to bring up a separate window containing the citations.

At the end of the article is a "sidebar" titled "There is a better way" the summarizes 10 common-sense actions that could be taken now.

At the very least, read the "record" part of each section, and the "Better way" section; if you have the stomach for it, go over the citations, too.

Chris Klein, Publisher

The Bush Administration's record on the environment

While many see the President busy with national security and terrorism, the record also shows his administration is actively dismantling, undoing and reversing decades of hard-won environmental health and heritage protections - while giving away the store to irresponsible corporations and campaign donors.

provided by The Sierra Club



    We all need clean, healthy air to breathe

The Bush Administration Record:


    The Bush Administration is weakening clean air standards, crippling the Clean Air Act and undermining its enforcement. The Bush Administration dramatically weakened a key clean air protection that required aging coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgraded or expanded. This means there will be more soot and smog that triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory problems pumped into our air.

There is a better way


    Enforce the law, hold polluters accountable and require them to use today's technology to modernize and cut pollution to protect our health and safety.




    Although much remains to be done, the quality of our rivers, lakes and coastal areas has improved greatly since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

    Continuing to protect small streams and wetlands is essential to filter pollution from our drinking water sources, maintain water quality in our lakes and rivers, and provide habitat to fish, waterfowl and other wildlife. If the Bush administration removes protection from small streams and wetlands, it will reverse thirty years of progress in cleaning up our lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

    Protecting lakes and rivers, keeping our drinking water safe and healthy, and preventing disease requires treating and disinfecting sewage. We have known for more than one hundred years how to treat sewage safely. So why is raw sewage still allowed to overflow into our basements and foul our beaches?

The Bush Administration Record


    The Bush administration is weakening critical Clean Water Act rules. It blocked a proposed Clinton administration rule that would have reduced overflows of raw sewage into waterways and basements and would have required health warnings when overflows occur. Sewage overflows are a major cause of beach closures and fish kills because of bacteria and viruses contained in raw sewage.

    The Bush administration issued guidance in January 2003 that excludes “isolated” wetlands from Clean Water Act protection. In addition, the administration began a rule-making process that suggests eliminating protection for streams and wetlands that are nonnavigable, isolated and intrastate. EPA estimated that its new rules could eliminate protection for up to 20 million acres of wetlands, about one-fifth of the wetlands in the United States, excluding Alaska. The Clean Water Act has protected these headwater streams and wetlands from pollution and filling since the mid-1970s.

    The Administration has issued a new rule legalizing the mining practice of dumping the tops of mountains into nearby valleys and streams. Mining companies, developers and oil companies are seeking this change in clean water rules because it will be easier for them to dispose of their waste and fill in wetlands if there is no government oversight. But polluting these small streams and wetlands will inevitably mean dirtier water downstream, more flooding, and fewer recreational opportunities for hunters, anglers and others who depend upon clean water.

    Once again the Bush administration is allowing polluters allowed to benefit at our expense.

There is a better way


    Strengthen, not weaken, our clean waters laws and enforce those laws. Demand polluters be held accountable for the damage they do, and warn us when our water is unhealthy and unsafe. Protect our health and safety by continuing to protect the wetlands and small streams that filter pollution out of our water. Require sewage treatment plant operators to control and adequately treat sewage flows, and warn us and public health authorities when an overflow occurs.


Toxic Dump Sites (Superfund)


    Congress established the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program almost a quarter of a century ago, after the massive contamination of Love Canal in New York focused national attention on the problem of abandoned toxic waste dumps. The law requires that companies responsible for creating the waste site pay to clean it up. In the case of abandoned sites, where the companies responsible cannot be found or are bankrupt, the government will clean it up. The cleanup of abandoned sites was largely funded by a tax on oil, chemicals and a general corporate excise tax. The tax expired in 1995. The Clinton administration urged Congress to restore the tax, but Congress did not do so. The cleanup trust fund ran out of polluter money in 2003, so now taxpayers are bearing the cost of cleaning up these waste sites. One in four Americans lives within a short bicycle ride of a Superfund site. These sites contain highly toxic chemicals (e.g., arsenic, lead, chromium, benzene) that can cause cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems.

The Bush Administration Record


    The Bush administration is the first administration since the Superfund law was passed in 1980 to oppose the principle that polluters should be taxed to pay for cleaning up toxic waste sites. This means that the administration has not included the polluter pays tax in its budgets to Congress or supported legislation to restore the tax. Where companies responsible for creating a waste site can be identified, they are still responsible for cleaning it up.

    Instead, the Bush administration has shifted the cleanup costs to taxpayers. Meanwhile, the rate of Superfund toxic waste cleanups completed under the Bush administration has fallen by almost half. In 1980, Congress decided to protect the health and safety of Americans by forcing polluters to pay to cleanup toxic dump sites. But the Bush administration is now forcing taxpayers, not corporate polluters to pay to clean up the contamination that has left our communities at risk.

There is a better way


    Restore the “polluter pays” principle to ensure that remaining toxic sites are cleaned up and to protect the health and safety of our families and communities.




    Government, business and individuals all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and healthy, and the government's job is to enforce the laws that protect us.

The Bush administration record


    Enforcement of environmental laws has fallen dramatically under the Bush administration. The administration has repeatedly attempted to cut funding for inspectors and enforcement, despite the fact that environmental laws have proven to be successful in cleaning up our air and water and that the benefits of these protections far outweigh their costs.

    Criminal pollution cases referred by the EPA for federal prosecution have dropped 40%; referrals for civil prosecution are down 25%. And every year since taking office, the Bush administration has requested that the budget for enforcement be slashed. Not enforcing clean air, clean water and other environmental laws lets polluters off the hook, exposes Americans to more pollution and keeps our families and communities at risk.

There is a better way


    Enforce the laws that protect our health and safety and hold polluters responsible for the damage they cause.


America's Wild Heritage


    Americans love the outdoors and want their National Parks, Forests, Monuments, coasts and other wild places protected.

Bush Administration Record:


    The Bush Administration has opened up millions of acres of America's public lands - including some of the nation's most environmentally sensitive lands - to logging, mining and oil and gas drilling. Administration proposals - whether to ramp-up oil and gas exploration on public lands in the Rocky Mountain region, open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to full scale oil development, allow development in the last wild areas of our National Forests or leave endangered species habitat unprotected - are allowing industry dramatically increased access to public lands for corporate profit.

    For example, the Bush administration has:

  • Blocked implementation of a rule that would have protected the last wild pockets of the National Forests from road building and other development
  • Pressed to increase logging in National Forests under the guise of reducing the risk of wildfires
  • Agreed to settlements that limit future wilderness protections and significantly shrink areas of critical habitat for endangered species
  • Aggressively increased oil and gas exploration on public lands, particularly in the Rocky Mountain west and have even attempted to develop the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil and gas drilling.
  • Worked to weaken the review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a main pillar of environmental law

    Rather than protect our special places, the Bush Administration is handing over America's public lands to corporate polluters, wasting taxpayer dollars, and sacrificing our children's legacy.

There is a better way


    We can preserve America's wild heritage for present and future generations to explore and enjoy by protecting the last pockets of wild forests, making community protection the top priority of any forest fire policy, and promoting cleaner, cheaper and safer energy solutions like wind and solar power that protect America's spectacular wild places.


America's National Forests - Roadless Wild Forests


    Americans cherish the last pockets of wild in our National Forests as places to hike, hunt and fish and as sources of clean water.

The Bush Administration Record


    The Bush Administration is opening up millions of acres of wild, roadless forests to damaging logging, road building, and other development. They have hollowed-out the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule, riddling it with loopholes that threaten the places Americans need and treasure for recreation, clean water and fish and wildlife habitat. They are allowing irresponsible corporations to benefit at our expense. Close to two-thirds of our National Forest land has already been hammered by development that destroys the forests, pollutes the water, devastates wildlife habitat and is subsidized by American taxpayers. We need to protect that last third as wild lands.

There is a better way


    These wild forests are areas of national significance, and they deserve a national policy to protect them for future generations.


America's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


    The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure - home to polar bears, wolves, countless migratory birds, and the birthing grounds for the 129,000-member Porcupine River caribou herd.

The Bush Administration Record


    The Bush Administration is targeting the environmentally sensitive coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of America's greatest natural treasures, for oil and gas development. Despite indisputable proof that oil drilling irreparably damages the Refuge's fragile tundra and wildlife, drilling there has been a centerpiece of the Bush Administration's shortsighted energy policy. Drilling for oil in the Arctic would not put a dent in our dependence on foreign oil, would do nothing to strengthen our national security, would not save consumers a dime or solve problems like the Northeast blackout.

There is a better way


    We need to invest now in energy-efficient technology and develop renewable power sources like wind and solar power. We need an honest, balanced energy plan that gives us cleaner, cheaper and safer energy solutions and protects spectacular wild places like the Arctic.


America's Wild Heritage - Oil and Gas Drilling


    For more than half a century, Congress has worked to ensure that America's public lands are used for the benefit of all Americans and that activities like energy production and development are balanced with recreation and conservation.

Bush Administration Record:


    The Bush Administration's quest to open up millions of acres of America's public lands - including some of the nation's most environmentally sensitive lands - for the sole purpose of energy development stands in sharp contrast to our “multiple use” tradition and puts America's wild places at risk. Coastal Alaska, the Powder River Basin and the Rocky Mountain Front are among the special places targeted by the Bush Administration for energy development that will cause irreparable damage to the lands that belong to all Americans.

    Already, 63 percent of public lands in the West are available for leasing with no restrictions on development. Yet, in the past 3 years alone, the Bush Administration has approved more than 11,000 oil and gas permits and turned over control of more than five million acres of public lands to oil and gas companies. The Bush administration has plans to offer an estimated five million acres more for oil and gas leasing. Whether it is dismantling important environmental protections or pursuing development in previously unspoiled areas, the Bush Administration is bent on exploiting the public's land for private gain. Rather than protect these special places, the Bush Administration is handing over control of America's public lands to oil and gas companies at an alarming rate - even though we can never, with only 3% of the world's petroleum reserves, meet domestic demand or drill our way to energy independence. These corporate polluters with tax breaks totaling $20 billion are wasting taxpayer dollars and sacrificing our natural heritage.

There is a better way


    By making sensible choices now to invest in energy efficient technology and renewable power we can decrease our dependence on oil and gas. We need an honest, balanced energy plan that gives us cleaner, cheaper and safer energy solutions and preserves America's wild heritage.


There is a better way
Ten Common Sense Solutions We Can Implement Now

provided by The Sierra Club

A combination of common sense, commitment, and American ingenuity will enable the country to solve its environmental dilemmas and a combination of technology, enforcement and forward-looking political leadership will protect our children’s natural inheritance.

Here are ten common sense solutions we can begin to put in place now:

  1. Build and drive more fuel efficient cars, trucks and SUVs.

    We can reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, cut air pollution and our disproportionate 25% contribution to the global warming problem, slash our trade deficit, and save money at the gas pump by improving the technology of the vehicles we drive.

    The technology already exists. Even without converting our fleet to hybrid technology, the “freedom package” an already available combination of more efficient engines, continuously variable transmissions, combined starter-alternators and lighter,stronger high tech body materials, would enable a Ford Explorer, which now gets 19 mpg, to get 35 mpg, with no loss of room, height or power – if Ford would only offer the package.

  2. Build a twenty first century energy industry, and reindustrialize America in doing so. 

    Adopt a clean energy policy that conserves energy, uses renewable power sources such as wind and solar energy to generate electricity and creates jobs. The Apollo Project, for example, is an alternative energy vision launched by a group of labor unions led by the Steelworkers, the Machinists, and the Electrical Workers. The Project calls for investing $300 billion over 10 years into a new clean energy economy, one based on innovation and efficiency. It envisages major investments in high performance building, more efficient factories, more energy efficient appliances and better mass transit as well as more efficient, hybrid vehicles. While this $300 billion is only a fraction of what America spends in a single year on imported oil, economic modeling showed that these programs could create 3 million new manufacturing jobs.

  3. Install modern air pollution control equipment on old power plants, refineries and factories. 

    Basically, the Bush administration is allowing America’s dirtiest power plants to keep polluting. Pollution control equipment has been proven to be quite effective in cutting power plant emissions – emissions that cause at least 30,000 deaths from respiratory illness and 600,000 asthma attacks a year. Forcing industry to use today’s technology will save lives, clean up the air, and keep a commitment made 30 years ago.

  4. Restore the principle of “Polluter Pays.”

    Getting the Superfund program back up and running, and getting the polluters, not taxpayers, to pay for it, are the first steps. The cleanup of abandoned toxic dump sites was largely funded by a tax on oil, chemical and a general corporate excise tax – which expired in 1995. The cleanup trust fund ran out of polluter money in 2003, so now taxpayers are bearing the costs. Cleanups have been slowed by half since the Bush administration took office and there are still 1200 sites threatened the health of our communities. If we can restore the tax, force polluters to clean up the messes they made, and return to the rate of cleaning up 80 of these sites a year, all of America’s toxic dump sites can be cleaned up in 15 years.

  5. Reinstate the environmental standards that protected our National Forests, rivers, wetlands, wildlife habitat and public lands up until January 21, 2001, when the Bush administration rescinded them – and opened up million of acres to the oil and gas, mining and logging companies.

  6. Put the environmental cop back on the beat and save lives and money.  

    Stop cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and enforcement of our clean air and water laws. Put the government back in the business of fulfilling its unique role of inspecting, monitoring and punishing polluters. “Voluntary compliance” is an oxymoron and does not work.

    The benefit of protecting our health and the environment, particularly reducing air pollution, far outweighs the costs. Environmental rules from the past ten years have generated as much as $230 billion in benefits (such as reduced sickness and lost work time), yet the rules only cost between $36 and $42 billion this according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

  7. Save and Restore our Forests

    Focus the Forest Service on what ought to be Job One -- protecting communities from fire. Redirect money now spent on logging our National Forests to fire prevention, specifically to creating Community Protection Zones -- a half mile area around homes or towns that need to be cleared of brush and small trees to reduce the risk of wildfire. 

    Simultaneously we should phase out the Forest Service’s commercial timber program, and begin managing our National Forest System exclusively for public benefits like wildlife, recreation and watershed protection. Most of America’s best commercial timber land is already in private hands. We don’t need to log our National Forests to meet out need for timber.

  8. Keep the promise Congress made when it authorized oil and gas drilling off our coasts,

    Use the royalties from those activities to fund the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund which purchases and protects wild lands and wildlife habitat.

  9. Finish the job of separating storm water and sewage, and deal with the problem of toxic run-off from farms; factory animal feed lot operations, logging and development.

    The water treatment programs of the Clean Water Act were one of the great environmental success stories of the 1970’s and 1980’s, but we still have thousands of beach closures every year because of inadequately treated sewage. One third of our waterways still have not met the swimmable and fishable standards of the Clean Water Act, and there is a huge backlog of unmet sewage treatment needs in many of our older cities.

  10. Rejoin the world. 

    The rest of the world is waiting for the US to join the coalition of the environmentally willing. We should go back to the Kyoto Protocol table to help shape a plan to protect the planet from global warming. We ought to join, not block, such international initiatives as the proposed Convention to Reduce the Emissions of Mercury, an international treaty to protect rain forests and agreements on how to stop the overfishing of the world’s oceans. And we must work to undo NAFTA, GATT and other trade agreements that ignore the necessity of elevating and exporting environmental protections.

Join the Sierra Club.