AIR POLLUTION IS PROMOTED BY BUSH ADMIN TIES TO INDUSTRY/NEW SOURCE REVIEW-Andrew Stelzer05/05/04
The Bush administrationâ€™s ties with air polluting energy companies are coming under scrutiny, after the release of a new report which details how energy company executives have been instrumental in formulating the governmentâ€™s pollution standards, fundraising for Bush, and even being hired by the government. FRANK CLEMENTE is director of public citizens congress watch.
ACT â€˜Since 1999, the top 30 biggest utility companies have contributed 6.6 million dollars to repubsâ€¦â€¦many of the companies that own the dirtiest plants are the biggest contributors.â€?
Clemente, says that in the late 1990â€™s, polluters were being forced to change their ways.
ACT-Clemente â€œIt starts under the Clinton administrationâ€¦â€?
A key component of the Bush Administrations efforts has been the easement of rules under New Source review. The New Source Review is a section of the Clean Air Act, which was meant to be a tool for making sure that when energy companies alter or upgrade their facilities, they would install proper pollution controls. But According to Eric Shaffer, director of the environmental integrity project, Bush has trying to eliminate elements of the new source review, or the entire process, and in the meantime, has not been enforcing the rules.
ACT Schaffer â€œBasically the administration has proposed repealing this requirementâ€¦â€?
The report cites data that more than 600,000 women of childbearing age have toxic amounts of mercury in their system; mercury can lead to learning disabilities in children. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere contribute to acid rain; they also combine with ammonia in the atmosphere and trigger hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and 20,000 premature deaths by cardiac disease every year. Sulfur dioxide emissions are up, and will likely remain unchanged until 2010 when new restrictions should go into effect. Carbon dioxide emissions are also up 2 percent, which are not known to cause health problems but do contribute to climate change. The top 50 polluting companies in the US account for almost half the Sulfur dioxide and Mercury in the atmosphere, and 31 almost a third of the carbon dioxide. The bottom line is that the dangers are known, and it is clear they are increasing. Shaffer explains how a three pronged strategy gave the energy industry strength once George Bush because President.
ACT â€œThe legal action started in 1999 could have cleaned them up but they did three things..â€?
Frank Clemente says Bushâ€™s fundraising strategy, implemented after campaign finance reform laws were passed, brought many executives on energy companies into the fold of an elite group of Bush fundraisers.
ACT â€œIn terms of the rangers an pioneers, they've raisedâ€¦..â€?
And The 30 biggest companies on the dirtiest plant lists hired at least 16 lobbying firms, which had at least 23 rangers and pioneers.
ACT â€œLooking at the lobbyistsâ€¦.â€?
After the election, these firms met with Vice President Dick Cheneyâ€™s infamous energy task force in 2001, while the administration was formulating their energy policy, they were able to suggest officials to serve in the new administration and assist in formulating priorities for the administrations agenda in regard to energy policy. In addition, 4 executives from some of the dirtiest companies were themselves appointed to the Administrations energy departmentsâ€™ transition team.
ACT â€œIn effect the bush administrations approach to clean air has been to change the laws in exchange for moneyâ€¦â€?
Schaffer gave a local Tampa Bay utility, TECO credit for being one example of a company that has made progress in cleaning up its coal-energy production practices, but said we should be concerned about the transport of nitrogen from other utilities to our area. They also pointed out that the Progress energy site in Crystal River, 90 mile north of Tampa, can be just as dangerous, even though it is may seem far away.
ACT â€œIt becomes very important to target individual plants for clean up, not just assume cause your local plant is ok, its all good.â€?
As for solutions, Schaffer says that because of a divided congress, federal legislation to prevent pollution is unlikely; instead, he suggests that states take things into their own hands.
ACT â€˜The easiest and best thing would be to have EPA enforce the law, but those have been damaged by the Bush administration has damaged those laws.â€?
ACT â€œOne bright spot is to have individual states pass their own lawsâ€¦â€?
The new report can be found at www.whitehouseforsale.org