Though President Bush remains in office for only two more weeks, he has left a final trail of devastation to cement his legacy in place. From gutting the endangered species act to allowing toxic waste to flow freely, Bush is pushing 11th hour executive orders at a potentially record setting pace.
His list of last minute domestic atrocities is not limited to the environment, but many of his most egregious final offenses are those that spoil sensitive habitat and natural resources. This list is merely a sample of Bush’s midnight regulations, along with what is being done to stop him. Here are George Bush’s top five most disgraceful efforts to ruin our environment once more.
5) Actual pine woods to be replaced with a suburb named “Pine Woods”. Plum Creek Timber, the nation’s largest private landowner, has crafted a back door deal with the Bush administration to allow them to pave over logging roads and develop the previously inaccessible land. Local forest agencies are furious about the back door deal, which is being finalized this week. It might not be too late to stop it, so call 1-800-832-1355 and tell Forest Service director (and former timber industry lobbyist) to stop opening up our forests for development.
4) No need to report hazardous waste and air pollutants. The EPA has allowed over 100,000 tons of waste to be exempted from the hazardous waste controls and is no longer requiring factory farms to report toxic air pollutants such as ammonia because “there’s no way our responders can deal with that”. But isn’t that the point of the EPA? Unfortunately, these have already been signed and there are no lawsuits yet to overturn them.
3) Mining waste can be dumped in streams and rivers. The 25 year ban on dumping mining waste within 100 of streams and rivers no longer exists, thanks to one of Bush’s deregulations early in December. This is opposed by prominent politicians in the states with the most mining, as well as conservation groups, but the effort to stop the deregulation failed. There is a lawsuit underway currently, so hopefully the ban will be reinstated soon.
2) Oil-shale industry in the Rocky Mountain states gets the green light. Bush and the Land Management Bureau have given the okay for oil production companies to go ahead with exploration without even considering the effects it would have on animals and plants listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act. Oil-shale development, which obtains oil from rocks around surface level, is a polluting process that can endanger nearby wildlife. A lawsuit is being filed by at least a dozen conservation groups.
1) Endangered Species Act no longer required to use science? In conjunction with all of these deregulations, some are claiming that Bush’s new rules have gutted the ESA so badly that it is no longer necessary to use scientific reviews when enacting a potentially devastating policy or endeavor. California Attorney General Jerry Brown is having his entire state sue the Bush administration, claiming that a new regulation “circumvents a time-tested statute that for 35 years has required scientific review of proposed federal agency decisions that affect wildlife.” Considering only Congress can change the ESA, we may be able to count on success in overturning this most offensive deregulation by President Bush.
For the sake of the world’s future generations, let us all hope that the incoming administration stays true to its promise to make the environment a top priority.