Current Environmental Rollbacks by GW Bush Thus Far, Part I

March 21, 2001

Michael Johnsen

Environmental issues were absent from the list of talking points during GW's run for presidency, but now it appears that these issues have moved to the forfront of his administartion's policy action now that he is in office. Not even 100 days into the new administration, several major environmental rollbacks have been enacted or are proposed by the Bush administration. There has been more attention focused on rolling back environmental regulations than any other issue, prompting many to think that he was less that honest about his motives during the election, especially when one of his recent actions broke a campaign promise (see below).

Below is a partial list of the anti-environmental actions taken by the Bush administration thus far:

1) The Bush administartion is rescinding new standards for arsenic in drinking water issued during the final days of the Clinton Presidency. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), headed by Bush appointed Christie Todd Whitman, suspended standards aimed at reducing the levels of cancer-causing arsenic in about 3,000 municipal water systems, primarily in the Rocky Mountains. Arsenic pollution in drinking water supplies results from mining activities. The current limit of 50 parts per billion was proposed to be lowered to 10 parts per billion.

2) The EPA also announced on March 21 it would abide by rather than challenge a consent decree to toughen pesticide regulations that the agency signed the day before Clinton left office. The consent degree was suppoerted by both environmental organizations and farm workers. The agenecy also announced it would take a look at how risk assessment is performed with regards to clearing pesticide use.

3) Breaking a campaign promise from a position paper dated September 29, 2000, GW Bush announced that C02 levels would not be considered in standards set by power producing plants. Flying in the face of scientific evidence linking human produced C02 to climate change, GW said that he had made a "mistake" when including C02 in a list of four pollutants that should be reduced from power plants. (see Bush Administration Breaks Campaign Promise on Climate Change - Refuses to Regulate CO2 Emissions 3/14/01)

4) The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management annoounced March 22, 2001, it would seek to undo regulations forcing more hard-rock miners in the West to post cleanup bonds. The regulations require miners of gold, silver, uranium, copper, lead, zinc and molybdenum on federal lands to post a bond equal to 100 percent of the estimated cleanup cost guaranteeing that clean-up would actually occur. The new regulations on hard-rock mining were issued late last year but were not put into effect until Jan. 20, 2001 - Clinton's last day in office. The BLM's so-called revised 3809 regulations gave the government new authority to prohibit new mine sites on federal land. The new regulations also gave BLM's land managers the right to deny a mining permit under some circumstances and to enforce standards for assuring that groundwater supplies aren't contaminated.

5) GW Bush's proposed budget package slashes the energy efficiency and alternative energy prgram at teh Department of Energy responsible for developing the compact fluorescent lightbulb, window glazings and other technologies used today to conserve energy. Seemingly contrary to his position on reducing dependence on foreign oil, Bush does not feel this program is cost effective even though government estimates show that the program has produced energy savings up to 20 times the cost of the program. The program is proposed to be cut by up to 60%. (see Bush Plans Energy Cuts in Energy Efficiency and Alternative Fuels Budgets 3/8/01)

6) A federal judge in Boise, Idaho, on March 21, 2001, rejected the administration's effort to delay a ban implemented three days before Clinton left office on new roads and virtually all logging on 58.5 million acres of national forest. The Justice Department last Friday asked the court to delay a hearing scheduled for March 30 on Idaho's request for a preliminary injunction blocking the roadless rules. Government lawyers had proposed suspending the ban, more than two years in the planning and announced in early January, until Idaho's challenge was resolved.

There are probably more, and I'll report them as I find them. Meanwhile, start asking your local