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Encyclopedia > Environmentalism (Critique of George W. Bush's politics)

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Environmentalism (Critique of George W. Bush's politics)

Environmentalists criticize the George W. Bush campaign and continue to criticize the Bush administration for its refusal to support mainstream environmentalism on a wide range of issues.

Bush has reduced some of the federal government's environmental regulations. Green campaigners and mainstream environmentalists see these regulations as necessary.

Environmentalists criticize Bush for:

  • Not signing the Kyoto Protocol, which would have mandated that American organizations reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. However, Bush says that he did not refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol because he is entirely against it. He claims he supports the basic agreement but had problems with some of the language. For example, the Kyoto treaty does not apply to every country. "The world?s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is China. Yet, China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol", Bush said of the treaty, "This is a challenge that requires a 100 percent effort; ours, and the rest of the world?s. America?s unwillingness to embrace a flawed treaty should not be read by our friends and allies as any abdication of responsibility. To the contrary, my administration is committed to a leadership role on the issue of climate change. Our approach must be consistent with the long-term goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere" Despite that claim, Bush has been ambivalent at best about whether he accepts the scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic global warming (global warming caused by human activity). In 2002, he has called for another decade of study before implementing any measures to combat global warming. [1] (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/03/science/earth/03CLIM)
  • Not attending the 2002 Earth Summit[?], held in Johannesburg. (His father attended the conference in 1992 when it was held in Rio de Janeiro.)
  • Proposing drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Proposing a controversial idea to control forest fires by relaxing the restrictions on tree cutting. (for more on this, see e.g. The Washington Post, "Thin Forests to Prevent Fire, Bush Says Controversial Plan Would Boost Logging, Require Rewriting Environmental Law," Amy Goldstein and Rene Sanchez, Aug. 23, 2002 or The New York Times, "Forest Thinning Challenged as Tactic to Control Fires," Jim Robbins, Aug. 26, 2002)
  • Proposing to drill for oil off the coast of Florida.
  • Rolling back energy efficiency standards in air conditioners.
  • Opposing a Congressional effort to raise the fuel efficiency of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).
  • Killing the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles program (PNGV) that was designed to improve fuel effiencies for current automotive technologies. Instead of advocating improving fuel efficiencies int he short term, he proposed more money for researching alternative fuels for automobiles, like hydrogen and fuel-cells, which will not be available for many years to come.
  • Reversing an EPA proposal for reducing snowmobile emissions which would have banned snowmobiles from some national parks. Four environmental groups have sued the Bush administration in Federal court, asking a judge to block implementation of this proposal.
  • Proposing $13 million a year to protect tropical forests in developing countries. (The same amount as the previous administration.)
  • Proposing the Clear Skies Initiative, which would force manufacturing plants that create more pollution than the government allows to pay a monetary penalty. The administration says that this plan would reduce major pollutants from power plants 70% by the year 2018. With the exception of the Adironodack Council[?], environmental groups have universally opposed this measure. According to John Sheehan[?] of the Adirondack Council[?], this approach has worked before by diminishing acid rain in areas like New York's Adirondack region[?], "The bill that the president had introduced to the House and Senate just recently is much better than a lot of people are giving it credit for being, and I think if it were applied nationally, we would see most of the country with much, much cleaner air right away." However, the Sierra Club points out that this act, "instead of reducing air pollution, the President's plan will actually result in more air pollution than currently allowed under current law". The Clear Air Trust comments: "The administration wants to eliminate current Clean Air Act requirements for electric power plants, including new source review, regional haze standards, toxic pollution control requirements, and authority for states to reduce interstate pollution. Separately, the administration is moving to weaken pollution control requirements for refineries and other factories. These big sources of pollution would be permitted to pollute more under the administration's plans."
  • Removing any mention of global warming from the EPA's annual pollution report, in a reversal of an EPA practice from the prior six years.
  • Reinterpreting the National Environmental Policy Act so that its oceanic protections against dumping and other environmental hazards would apply to only a limited part of the ocean under U.S. control.
  • Making an agreement with the Home Builders Association in California which removed protection for the red-legged frog, an endangered species, thus allowing the builders to destroy their habitat.
  • Relaxed EPA Federal air pollution standards regarding plant modernization for various industrial facilities, including factories, power plants, and refineries. These new regulations are mandatory for all states, even those such as California, whose regulations are stricter than the Federal standards. Thus not only do the Bush administration regulations loosen environmental restrictions, they force states like California to loosen theirs as well. These changes in the regulations, which several energy companies lobbied for, undo a major component of the 1970 Clean Air Act. Nine states in the Eastern United States sued the Bush administration over this these changes, arguing that they could only legally result from an amendment to the 1970 law by Congress.
  • In a reversal of a 2000 decision, gave approval to energy company Calpine to begin drilling geothermal wells in an undeveloped landscape near Mount Shasta, California. This measure angered not only environmentalists, but also Native Americans in the area, who consider the site sacred.
  • In a measure that environmentalists say will gut the 1976 National Forest Management Act, Bush plans on allowing the supervisors of the nation's national forests to approve logging, drilling or mining projects even if they run counter to the forest plan's guidelines for protecting wildlife The proposal also removes a provision for the scientific monitoring of sensitive species.
  • The Bush administration loosened the labeling standards for what constitutes "dolphin-safe" tuna. The Earth Island Institute and other conservation organizations filed suit in federal court to block this ruling.
  • The EPA established new rules sharply curtailing the ability of its field agents to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act with respect to the nation's wetlands.
  • The Bush administration sought to waiver exemptions for methyl bromide, a toxic gas which depletes the ozone layer and is to be banned by 2005 under the Montreal Protocol on behalf of agricultural companies. Government officials said "they would not limit the number of exemptions submitted just to ensure that use of the gas continued to decline," according to article on New York Times, January 29, 2003.
  • In February, 2003, the Forest Service was drafting plans to eliminate a series of environmental protections in the Sierra Nevada, which would drastically increase logging. The environmental protections had been adopted in 2000 after years of analysis and study.
  • Researching climate issues which top scientists say have already been resolved.
  • Not increasing the fuel efficency of cars which would save the USA: 1,000,000 barrels of oil every day.

Environmentalists have praised Bush for upholding a few environmental regulations that were in the works before he took office:

  • After initially delaying the planned reduction in the Federal limit of arsenic levels in drinking water, he eventually went along with a reduction from 50 to 10 parts per billion by the year 2006.
  • Upheld a wetlands protection act, originally enacted during the Clinton Administration.
  • Upheld regulations requiring thousands of businesses to report the release of toxic lead.
  • He announced his support of the United Nations? Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) treaty, which restricts the use of 12 dangerous chemicals.

For articles on these isues: The Bush Record (http://www.nrdc.org/bushrecord) - National Resources Defense Council site reporting the things Bush has done that they believe causes harm the environment.



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