Friday, April 22, 2005

A Great Sadness On Earth Day 2005

Photo of President Bush

President Bush was prevented from celebrating Earth Day in the Smokies by the mighty forces of nature which threated lightning and hail. Was God speaking to the President once again?

Bush claims to want to be "responsible steward", stating at a White House ceremony:
“One of the greatest responsibilities in a free society is responsible stewardship of our natural environment,” Bush said at the White House ceremony. “All of you have taken that duty seriously. You have set a clear and strong example, and you’re inspiring others to do their part.”
On Earth Day, April 22, 2002, President Bush had this to say:
Americans have reached a great consensus about the protection on the environment, we've come to understand the success of a generation is not defined by wealth alone. We want to be remembered for our material progress, no question about it, but we also want to be remembered for the respect we give to our natural world.
And yet what is the record of this Administration on the Environment?

As reviewed:

There is ample data affirming that the Bush administration's destructive policies have had a significant negative effect on our nation's environment. The facts are clear. The figures above and below, largely drawn from the administration's own data, show that environmental protection declining precipitously.

Toxic Releases Are Up

After years of consistent decline, the most recent annual inventory of industrial toxic releases shows an increase of 5 percent in the release of toxic substances into our air, water, and land. Data released in June 2004 document toxic releases from industrial facilities of nearly 4.8 billion pounds.

Environmental Enforcement Is Down

EPA data documents a 75 percent decline in the number of federal lawsuits filed against companies violating national environmental laws in the first three years of the Bush administration as compared to the last three years of the Clinton administration. Civil citations for polluters are down 57 percent since 2001, and criminal prosecutions have fallen 17 percent.

Pollution-Related Beach Closings Are Up

The EPA reports a 36 percent increase in annual beach closings due to unsafe water quality since 2001. Sewage contamination is an important and growing part of the problem.

Mercury Contamination Warnings Are Up

A total of 2,348 fish consumption advisories for mercury contamination were issued in 45 states in 2003. Seventy-six percent of fish samples from U.S. lakes were found to contain mercury levels unsafe for children 3 years old and younger to eat twice a week, according to the EPA. Every year more than 600,000 newborns may have been exposed to levels of mercury exceeding EPA health standards while still in the womb.

Hazardous Waste Cleanups Are Down

The pace of completed cleanups of Superfund hazardous waste sites, which increased dramatically in the later years of the Clinton era, has declined 52 percent since 2001, according to the EPA's own estimates. The Bush administration has refused to seek renewal of the Superfund clean-up tax on polluting industries, allowing the fund effectively to go bankrupt. The EPA reported 34 unfunded Superfund cleanups in 19 states in 2004.

Perchlorate Contamination Is Widespread

Perchlorate, a toxic rocket fuel additive, is leaching out from military dumps and contaminating the drinking water of more than 20 million Americans. More than 90 percent of lettuce and milk sampled nationwide showed levels of perchlorate that may be unsafe for children. Despite recommendations from scientific experts at the EPA to severely reduce perchlorate contamination, the Bush administration has refused to take action.

Dirtier Air, Longer

In September 2004, EPA's inspector general concluded that the agency was not making sufficient progress in reducing the pollutants that cause ozone smog in the nation's population centers. According to EPA data, 159 million Americans (55 percent of our population) now live in areas with hazardous smog levels and 100 million people live in areas that violate the EPA's new pollution standards for harmful soot.

Less Oversight of Refineries

There has been a 52 percent decrease in EPA clean air inspections at refinerie since 2001, and a 68 percent reduction in the number of notices of violations issued to refineries over the same period.

Until recently, our environmental laws and the infrastructure for their enforcement were a model for the world and a tremendous success in improving our quality of life and protecting our health. But today, with its foundations under assault from within, our system for environmental protection is becoming less effective and less credible with each passing day. As evidenced by the statistics above, our environment, our quality of life, and our health are suffering as a result.

But how could this have happened? What is going on in America?

One of the main instruments of this environmental destruction has been the appointment of business lobbyists to regulate the very industries they were previously representing. One cannot have the fox watching the chicken house for too long without consequences.

As a story from Newsday last year reported:
The Bush administration has given key regulatory jobs to executives like Henshaw, representatives of the same companies that face regulation, Newsday found. At the Agriculture Department, which manages the national forest system, a former lobbyist for the timber industry is now an undersecretary and at the Food and Drug Administration a former tobacco and drug company lawyer is the general counsel.

Those appointments raise the question of whether public authority ought to be dominated by private interests, said Harvard University ethics professor Kenneth Winston.

Yet experts agree that the appointments violate no laws and breach no ethics guidelines, which are narrowly drawn to address specific personal gain at the expense of the public.

Instead, the experts say, the appointments cast in sharp relief the priorities of a presidential administration, because personnel is policy.In rolling back a wide variety of new or proposed rules, Bush appointees are achieving what they view as an important goal of eliminating burdensome regulation and freeing companies to grow.

John Kerry and Earth Day are inseparable. John Kerry spoke and helped organize the original Earth Day Celebration in 1970. Twenty years later he chaired Earth Day New England. John Kerry received a '96' score in the League of Conservation Voters rating. No other candidate has ever been ranked as highly in terms of defense of the environment.

America needs new leadership! Our Air and Water demand our attention and care. Stewardship is not about exploitation of resources. Conservation is about conserving the trees, the water, the land and the air we breathe for all generations to come! Keep fighting for us Senator Kerry! Keep fighting for Earth Day and real stewardship coming from Washington D.C.! America deserves better!



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