"It isn't pollution that's ruining the
environment; it's all the impurities in the air and water that's doing it." G.W. Bush
Just How Destructive Will Bush's Last-Minute Deregulations Be?
As the media focuses on President-elect Obama and the transition of power here in Washington, the Bush administration is
quietly trying to push through a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January.
Up to ninety proposed regulations could be finalized by the outgoing administration, many of which would weaken government
rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment. According to the Washington Post, the new rules would be among the
most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era. They include rules that could weaken workplace safety protections,
allow local police to spy in the so-called “war on terror” and make it easier for federal agencies to ignore the
Endangered Species Act.
While it’s nothing new for outgoing administrations to try and enact these so-called “midnight regulations,”
the Bush administration has accelerated the process to ensure the changes it wants will be finalized by November 22nd. That’s
sixty days before the next administration takes control. Most federal rules go into effect sixty days after they’ve
been finalized, and it would be a major bureaucratic undertaking for the Obama administration to reverse federal rules already
Bush Officials Plan to Dial Back Environmental Protections By Renee Schoof McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is
expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon
and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia.
The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because,
in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally
would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration.
The regulations already have had periods of public comment, and no further comments are being taken. The administration
has proposed the rules and final approval is considered likely.
It's common for administrations to issue a spate of regulations just before leaving office. The Bush administration's changes
are in keeping with President Bush 's overall support of deregulation.
Here's a look at some changes that are likely to go into effect before the inauguration.
Higher prices for uranium, driven by expanded interest in nuclear power, have resulted in thousands of mining claims being
filed on land within three miles of the Grand Canyon .
The House of Representatives and Senate natural resources committees have the authority under the Federal Land Policy and
Management Act to order emergency withdrawals of federal land from future mining claims for three years, while Congress decides
whether a permanent ban is needed. The House committee issued such a withdrawal order in June for about 1 million acres near
the Grand Canyon , including the land the claims were filed on.
Now the Department of Interior has proposed scrapping its own rule that puts such orders from the congressional committees
The Interior Department could decide to use its own power to halt new claims, but it doesn't see any emergency that would
prompt such action, department spokesman Chris Paolino said. The department would require environmental impact studies before
it approved any mining on the claims, he added.
One of the main hazards from uranium mining is seepage from tailings piles that poisons water. A report for the Arizona
Department of Game and Fish said people would be at risk if they ingested radium-226, arsenic and other hazardous substances
from water and tainted fish.
Environmental groups say the government must consider the possible danger of uranium leaching into the Colorado River ,
a source of drinking water for Phoenix , Las Vegas and Los Angeles . Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano in March urged Interior
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to halt new claims and order a study of uranium mining near the canyon.
MOUNTAINTOP-REMOVAL COAL MINING
Another proposed rule change from the Department of Interior would change rules on dumping the earth removed for mining
into nearby streams.
The current rule, dating from the Reagan administration, says that no surface mining may occur within 100 feet of a stream
unless there'd be no harm to water quality or quantity. The rule change essentially would eliminate the buffer by allowing
the government to grant waivers so that mining companies can dump the rubble from mountaintops into valleys, burying streams.
The new rule would let companies explain why they can't avoid dumping into streams and how they intend to minimize harm.
A September report on the proposal by the department's Office of Surface Mining said that environmental concerns would be
taken into account "to the extent possible, using the best technology currently available."
The government and mining companies have been ignoring the buffer since the 1990s, said Joan Mulhern , an attorney with
Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm for environmental protection.
Before the rule can be changed, however, the Department of Interior must get written approval from Environmental Protection
Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson .
"In order to concur, the EPA would have to find that the activities authorized by the rule would not violate water-quality
standards, and all the evidence is to the contrary," Mulhern said.
Two rule changes would apply to electric power plants and other stationary sources of air pollution.
The first mainly concerns older power plants. Under the Clean Air Act, plants that are updated must install pollution-control
technology if they'll produce more emissions. The rule change would allow plants to measure emissions on an hourly basis,
rather than their total yearly output. This way, plants could run for more hours and increase overall emissions without exceeding
the threshold that would require additional pollution controls.
The other change would make it easier for companies to build polluting facilities near national parks and wilderness areas.
It also would change the way that companies must measure the impact of their pollution.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits any federal actions that would jeopardize the existence of a listed species or "adversely
modify" critical habitats. The 1973 law has helped save species such as the bald eagle from extinction.
Bush administration officials have argued that the act can't be used to protect animals and habitats from climate change
by regulating specific sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
A proposed rule change would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves whether timber sales, new dams or other projects
harm wildlife protected under the act. In many cases, they'd no longer have to consult the agencies that are charged with
administering the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Among the rule changes and plans that might become final are commercial oil-shale leasing, a new rule that would allow
loaded, concealed weapons in some national parks, and oil and gas leasing on wild public lands in West Virginia and Utah .
WithTime Short, Bush Pushes EPA to Relax Power-Plant Rule Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — At the Bush administration’s direction, the
Environmental Protection Agency is working on a new rule that would weaken pollution regulations for power plants, allowing
them to increase emissions without adding controls.
EPA officials have been working on a fast track to meet a Saturday deadline, but many of them are arguing against changing
the rule, said former EPA attorney John Walke and an EPA career official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because
the official wasn’t authorized to make statements.
They said that the EPA was expected to decide in November on another eleventh-hour rule that would allow more power plants
to be built near national parks and wilderness areas.
Power companies have sought the rule about power plant emissions for many years, and it was part of Vice President Dick
Cheney’s 2001 energy plan. Rules finalized more than 60 days before the administration leaves office are harder for
the next administration to undo.
The Clean Air Act requires older plants that have their lives extended with new equipment to install pollution-control
technology if their emissions increase. The rule change would allow plants to measure emissions on an hourly basis, rather
than their total yearly output. This way, plants could run for more hours and increase overall emissions without exceeding
the threshold that would require additional pollution controls.
The Edison Electric Institute, an association of shareholder-owned electric companies that represents about 70 percent
of the U.S. electric-power industry, told the EPA that it supports changing the rule because improvements at plants would
allow them to produce more energy with less fuel and in this way reduce emissions per unit of electrical output.
The EPA official said that concerns in the agency were that the analysis justifying the rule change was weak and the administration
didn’t plan to make the analysis public for a comment period, as is customary.
The EPA originally argued that changing the rule wouldn’t seriously harm the environment because another law, the
Clean Air Interstate Rule, reduced power plant emissions, offsetting any increase under the new rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the interstate rule, however, and the EPA was stuck with having to develop a
new analysis to justify the change.
Walke, who’s now the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s clean air program, said that EPA officials
in two departments told him that they’d been instructed to finalize the rule by Saturday. When such rules are made,
it’s common practice for the White House and the vice president’s office to give the EPA their views before the
EPA chief makes a decision.
Walke said that two EPA officials told him that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and Robert Meyers, the assistant administrator
in charge of air issues, didn’t agree with the new rule. EPA spokesman Jonathan Schradar said they hadn’t made
a decision yet and that he had no comment about their views.
Schradar said the EPA was committed to finalizing the rule by the time Bush left office in January. He said work was continuing
on it and that "rumors are exaggerated" about a Saturday deadline.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the administration was moving to adopt the changes to the power-plant emissions
The EPA is under no obligation to reveal internal deliberations, so in many cases the public never knows what objections
may have been raised.
The White House wouldn’t comment on its views about changing the rule, Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White
House’s Council on Environmental Quality, said Monday.
Walke charged in a comment to the EPA that the rule would amount to a "parting gift to the utility industry."
The rule change applies to old plants that are expanded or upgraded to prolong their lives. The changes can make them more
efficient but not as clean as they’d be with modern pollution controls.
The emissions bring smog, acid rain and particulates. The Bush administration argues that carbon dioxide, which power plants
also emit, shouldn’t be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Tons of Drugs Dumped into Wastewater Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza,Justin Pritchard Associated
U.S. hospitals and long-term care facilities annually flush millions
of pounds of unused pharmaceuticals down the drain, pumping contaminants into America's drinking water, according to an ongoing
Associated Press investigation.
These discarded medications are expired, spoiled, over-prescribed or unneeded. Some are simply unused because patients
refuse to take them, can't tolerate them or die with nearly full 90-day supplies of multiple prescriptions on their nightstands.
Few of the country's 5,700 hospitals and 45,000 long-term care homes keep data on the pharmaceutical waste they generate.
Based on a small sample, though, the AP was able to project an annual national estimate of at least 250 million pounds of
pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging, with no way to separate out the drug volume.
One thing is clear: The enormous amount of pharmaceuticals being flushed by the health services industry is aggravating
an emerging problem documented by a series of AP investigative stories - the commonplace presence of minute concentrations
of pharmaceuticals in the nation's drinking water supplies, affecting at least 46 million Americans.
Researchers are finding evidence that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues harm fish, frogs
and other aquatic species in the wild. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when
exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs.
The original AP series in March prompted federal and local legislative hearings, brought about calls for mandatory testing
and disclosure, and led officials in more than two dozen additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water.
Emanuel, Hinchey, Markey, Rahall to Introduce Legislation to Force Big Oil to Use Owned Leases
WASHINGTON – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, Rep.
Maurice Hinchey, Chairman Edward J. Markey and Chairman Nick Rahall today announced plans to introduce legislation that will
help lower gas prices by compelling oil companies to utilize the 68 million acres onshore and offshore that are being leased
by big oil companies, but not used to produce energy. The members were also joined by Reps. John Yarmuth and Peter Welch.
Currently, oil companies are not producing oil or gas on the nearly 68 million acres of federal land already under their
control. Offshore, big oil is producing on only about 20 percent of the acres they hold, while onshore, companies are
producing on less than 30 percent of the acres they hold. These unused areas could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels
of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, nearly double current domestic oil production.
“With nearly 68 million acres of on-shore and off-shore public land already leased for oil and gas drilling
untouched by the energy companies who hold those leases, it's time for Republicans and oil company executives to stop making
the false claim that the U.S. is not making enough land available for energy production,” Hinchey said. “Oil corporations
are trying to take control of as much land now during the oil-friendly Bush administration years, but are holding off on drilling
until the price of oil soars to $200 or $300 a barrel so that they can make even greater profits. By stalling energy
production, these major energy corporations are cheating the American people out of a domestic oil and natural gas supply,
causing prices to unfairly and unnecessarily soar at the pump. The federal government has made tens of millions of acres
available for oil and gas development. It's the energy companies that are refusing to produce and now we will make them
pay if they continue to refuse to increase our domestic supply.”
Markey, Hinchey and Emanuel will introduce legislation that would assess a fee on land energy companies have leased but
are not using for production. This fee will escalate if leases go unused over the course of several years. Revenue raised
from these fees will go towards renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, as well as the Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Chairman Rahall will also introduce legislation that employs a “use it or lose it”
tactic that will compel oil and gas companies to either produce or give up the federal onshore and offshore leases they are
stockpiling by barring the companies from obtaining any more leases unless they can demonstrate that they are producing oil
and gas, or are diligently developing the leases they already hold.
“Big Oil, as many Americans already suspect, are perfectly fine with high gasoline prices at the pump, while they
hold back domestic production on federal leases and enjoy world record profits. I am calling them on the carpet. I am calling
their bluff. We are not going to continue to allow them to speculate and profiteer with public resources to the detriment
of the American people,” said Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“Big Oil seems more concerned with pumping up prices than pumping more oil,” said Markey. “When Big Oil
already has tens of millions of acres available to them right now, it’s cynical of them to come to Congress and ask
for more drilling territory. This is a drilling decoy. With gas prices increasing by the day, it’s time for Big Oil
to produce or pay.”
“It's time for oil companies to use it or lose it,” added Emanuel. “These companies have access to millions
of acres and there is nothing stopping Big Oil from using this land to produce energy.”
ENVIRONMENT -- EPA REFUSES TO ANSWER TO CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENA
This month marks one year since the Supreme Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin regulating greenhouse
gases, which EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson had refused to do.
On April 2, the House Global Warming Committee, in a unanimous vote, issued a subpoena for documents relating to the agency's refusal to follow the Supreme Court mandate.
On April 11, the agency asked for an extension on answering the subpoena. However, in a follow-up letter
last week, the EPA declined to respond to the active subpoena and instead asked the committee to withdraw it.
Yucca Mountain, located 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was
picked as the repository to hold the nation's nuclear waste. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 had three western States
under consideration and in 1987 with Congress being pressed to pick a site, they decide on Yucca Mountain.
''The politics won
out,'' said Allison Macfarlane of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Yucca Mountain Project. ''The weakest state, politically,
that was under consideration, got stuck with it.''
Well, twenty years
later and with more than $9 billion of our tax dollars spent, it is still not open and may never be open. And in my opinion
it never should.
Several facts have
come to light in recent years, such as the Mountain sits on a fault line, underground water, and falsified reports by the
Department of Energy (DOE) scientists who work at the site.
Yucca Mountain was
originally designed to hold 77,000 tons of nuclear waste. Currently, nuclear waste is stored on site at the various nuclear
power plants throughout the United States. According to the DOE, by the time Yucca Mountain opens there will be more than
77,000 tons of nuclear waste in the United States, so the DOE has asked to increase the storage capacity.
Last year the Bush
administration’s DOE made public its proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). This program pushed by Bush
is offering to take other countries’ commercial high-level radioactive wastes for permanent disposal in the U.S.
and Resource Service (NIRS) Nuclear Waste Specialist Kevin Kamps said of Bush’s GNEP, “It would bury the U.S.
under a mountain of radioactive garbage”.
In 2005 the public
was made aware of the fact that possible dangers exist because Yucca Mountain either sits directly atop or near 33 known fault
lines, the largest of which, the Ghost Dance Fault, which runs directly through the site. But that did not appear as cause
to stop the program. Seeing how Yucca Mountain is only 100 miles from Las Vegas, Bush and the DOE must have figured that it
was a good bet that no earthquakes would happen while they were in charge.
The Nuclear Waste
Technical Review Board, using computer modeling based on geological data, historical quakes and results from about 20 test
wells, they showed that a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake could raise the water table between 450-750 feet at the storage site.
Because the repository would be only 600 to 800 feet above the present water table, "flooding could be expected to occur,"
The water table
below the Yucca Mountain site is unusually deep, about 1,500 feet below the surface, Davies said. But within a six-mile area
north of the proposed storage facility the groundwater level rapidly rises to a more normal depth of about 600 feet. (Source:
The containers the
waste will be stored in, if exposed to the ground water, could cause leakage and contaminate water tables throughout Nevada.
Imagine if the water made it into the Colorado River that feeds most of Southern Nevada and Southern California. Again another
gamble Bush and the DOE are willing to take.
According to the
DOE, a hydrologist at the US Geological Survey (USGS), who was studying how water flowed through the mountain, faked documentation
on the times and dates at which certain geological samples were taken from the site.
Yucca Mountain in
not just a boondoggle, but has the potential of creating one of the most deadly environmental disasters ever seen on the planet.
Oh, did I mention
that Yucca Mountain, which is thousands of years old, is an extinct Volcano.
David Phillips is a Vietnam Era Veteran, a Democratic Party Activist,
and David is also the Publisher and Editor of the online political magazine YodasWorld.org
You can also read David’s weekly column in the Santa Ynez Valley
Journal or you can go to their web site: www.Syvjournal.com
CONTINUES TO IGNORE SUPREME COURT RULING TO REGULATE CO2
Since 1999, environmental groups have been pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon
dioxide emissions, but the EPA has consistently rejected their pleas.
April, the Supreme Court overruled the EPA and found the agency had violated the Clean Air Act in "its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," ordering it to regulate carbon dioxide.
a year later, however, the EPA has failed to act. "At this time, the agency does not have a specific timeline for responding to the remand," the
EPA's Robert Meyers wrote this week in a letter to environmental groups.
agency's long history of inaction pushed the state of California to ask for permission to start regulating carbon dioxide emissions on its own, but the state's request was denied by the EPA in January. Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder responded to Meyers's letter, stating, "Unless EPA owns up to its obligations immediately, we will be forced to
take the administration back to court."
Biofuel Crops Increase Carbon Emissions
The conversion of forests
and grasslands into fields for the plants offsets the benefit of using the fuel, researchers find. Greenhouse-gas output overall
would rise instead of fall
The rush to grow biofuel crops -- widely embraced as part of the solution to global warming -- is actually increasing greenhouse
gas emissions rather than reducing them, according to two studies published Thursday in the journal Science.
One analysis found that clearing forests and grasslands to grow the crops releases vast amounts of carbon into the air
-- far more than the carbon spared from the atmosphere by burning biofuels instead of gasoline.
"We're rushing into biofuels, and we need to be very careful," said Jason Hill, an economist and ecologist at the University
of Minnesota who co-authored the study. "It's a little frightening to think that something this well intentioned might be
Even converting existing farmland from food to biofuel crops increases greenhouse gas emissions as food production is shifted
to other parts of the world, resulting in the destruction of more forests and grasslands to make way for farmland, the second
The analysis calculated that a U.S. cornfield devoted to producing ethanol would have to be farmed for 167 years before
it would begin to achieve a net reduction in emissions.
"Any biofuel that uses productive land is going to create more greenhouse gas emissions than it saves," said Timothy Searchinger,
a researcher at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the study's lead
The studies prompted 10 prominent ecologists and environmental biologists to write to President Bush and congressional
leaders Thursday, urging new policy "that ensures biofuels are not produced on productive forests, grassland or cropland."
Since 2000, annual U.S. production of corn-based ethanol has jumped from 1.6 billion gallons to 6.5 billion gallons --
supplying about 5% of the nation's fuel for transportation, according to the Renewable Fuels Assn., an industry lobbying group.
LearnAboutCoal.org, ABEC employs young children to make the case for coal. Upon loading the site, viewers may
encounter "Adam," who carries a skateboard and says: "I'm pretty stoked about the future of energy in this country. One reason for that is that I've taken the
time to learn more about American coal."
"Sarah" says that she's "glad to know that we have a 250-year supply of American coal available right
here in America," while "Luke" puts it bluntly: "Is coal a fuel for America's future? Actually, we can't afford for it not
Physicians for Social Responsibility blasted ABEC for its use of children to hawk a polluting and dangerous
industry. They point out that coal plants are the largest source of mercury emissions in the U.S. and that "Pregnant women
OIRA and agency representatives regularly meet with "outside stakeholders" to solicit opinions on regulations. Vice
President Cheney's office has recently taken an interest in these meetings. In June, The Progress Report
noted that lobbyists for major polluters visited the White House to lobby against tighter smog standards.
At that time, Clean Air Watch observed how unusual it was for a representative from Cheney's office to attend that meeting.
"Also sitting in on that meeting was a representative of Vice President Dick Cheney, long considered the go-to-guy for
big industries opposed to tougher environmental standards," wrote Clean Air Watch.
This incident was not isolated. As OMB Watch has
noted, OIRA has "held more than 540 regulatory review meetings since February 2002." Prior to Feb.
2007, Cheney's office attended just three meetings; since that time, it has attended eight.
ENVIRONMENT -- SENATE PASSES FIRST FUEL ECONOMY
HIKE 'IN NEARLY TWO DECADES'
In a 65 to 27 vote, the Senate approved a "sweeping energy legislation package...that
would mandate the first substantial change in the nation's vehicle fuel-efficiency law since 1975 despite opposition from
auto companies and their Senate supporters."
The energy bill, which still requires House approval,
will "require cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles to achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020." Furthermore, the bill requires "that the use of biofuels
climbs to 36 billion gallons by 2022" and sets "penalties for gasoline price-gouging and would give the government new powers
to investigate oil companies' pricing."
Through examination of ten years of federal
data, the group concluded that enforcement was much stronger under the Clinton administration but has lacked since President
Bush took office.
The EIP's analysis revealed that the EPA's
effectiveness has dropped in four of five categories: cases filed, number of civil penalties, criminal fines, and criminal investigations. The only category,
which did not decline, was "value of enforcements," but the EIP adds that even this is "endangered" because the Bush administration
continues to "try to weaken or eliminate New Source Review" rules, which are designed to ensure that power plants meet pollution guidelines under the Clean Air Act.
Reflecting the dismal enforcement under
Bush, the EIP reports that the Justice Department files, on average, only 16 lawsuits per year "against polluters who refuse to settle," whereas the Clinton administration prosecuted an average of
52 per year.
The Bush administration was quick to deny
the claims. "Any suggestion that the Justice Department is not enforcing the nation's laws is utterly false," said Matthew
J. McKeown of the Department of Justice.
"The bad news here is that it now costs less to pollute," said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the EIP and a former top official at the EPA. "A good environmental
program needs to make polluters pay for their violations."
Big Business Dodging Toxic Cleanup Costs, Group Charges Justin Rood Reports:
Corporations responsible for hundreds of the most toxic sites in the United States spent nearly as much money lobbying
politicians and funding political campaigns as they did repaying the government for cleaning up their messes, according to
a new analysis by a Washington, D.C. watchdog group.
As a result, the companies may dodge hundreds of millions in cleanup fees, charges the non-profit, non-partisan Center
for Public Integrity.
Companies like petroleum giant Exxon Mobil Corp. or defense contracting giant Raytheon are among the roughly 100 businesses
responsible for the vast majority of privately controlled polluted or contaminated "Superfund" sites throughout the United
States, according to the new report by the Center for Public Integrity.
Half of all Americans live within 10 miles of a Superfund site, the group said.
Between 1998 and 2005, those companies repaid the federal government $1.3 billion for the cost of cleaning up their toxic
sites. During the same period, those companies also spent $1.2 billion on lobbying and political donations.
As those companies pumped money into the coffers of Washington's lobbyists and lawmakers, their cleanup fees slowed to
a trickle. While in 1999 those corporations repaid a total of $320 million to the Environmental Protection Agency, which manages
the Superfund cleanup effort, those same companies paid just $60 million in 2006.
"This is what goes on in Washington. It's no surprise," said CPI Director Bill Buzenberg, who explained that many companies
hire former EPA officials to help them convince the agency to go easy on them. "It's cost effective. You pay a few million
and get a few hundred million in savings."
ExxonMobil and Raytheon did not respond with comment for this story.
Bush Wants to Weaken Chemical Security Laws
The Bush administration would be able to override tough state regulations of chemical facilities if Congress doesn't do
something about it, some Democratic lawmakers say.
On Thursday, the Democrats tried to stop the new Bush rule, by attaching a provision to an Iraq war funding bill.
The lawmakers, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., were concerned that draft regulations published by the Homeland
Security Department in December, due to be finalized by April 4, would trump more stringent state rules.
Lautenberg said New Jersey has the strongest chemical security laws in the nation.
"Our language supports stronger chemical security laws like those in New Jersey and protects states' rights," Lautenberg
said in a statement. "The Bush administration should not undermine these state laws and leave our country at risk of a chemical
Last week similar language was inserted into the House version of the supplemental spending bill by Rep. Sheila Jackson
Lee, D-Texas. The Senate must vote on the measure, and then the differences between the House and Senate language will have
to be ironed out before the bill becomes law.
There are about 14,000 high-risk chemical facilities across the nation, more than 100 of them within reach of populations
of 1 million or more. About 7,000 facilities put 1,000 or more people at risk, and roughly 550 of those place 100,000 or more
at risk in the case of an accident or attack.
Some members of Congress strongly support the right of states to pass more stringent security rules but believe it's premature
for lawmakers to alter chemical security language before the final rules have been published.
"We should not interrupt the regulatory process and further delay the implementation of a long-overdue program to manage
the security risk at our nation's high-risk chemical facilities," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the senior Republican
on the Homeland Security Committee.
"State laws ultimately cannot and should not conflict with federal authorities for securing chemical facilities," said
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke. He said there's no question that states and localities have an important role to
play, but when it comes to terrorism, the expectation is that the federal government is responsible for protecting the homeland.
The American Chemistry Council, which represents the largest producers of chemicals in the country, strongly opposed the
"Congress should support these regulations, not undermine the DHS rules before they are even implemented," said ACC President
Jack Gerard. "If Congress meddles with the law, chemical facilities that are already implementing stringent security measures
will be left in limbo about their regulatory obligations."
Russia to analyse yellow-orange snow in Siberia Fri Feb 2, 9:38 AM ET
Russia's Emergency Ministry planned to fly a chemical laboratory on Thursday to the Omsk region in southern Siberia to
analyse oily yellow and orange snow which has covered an area home to 27,000 people.
"A special mobile chemical laboratory will enable us to carry out express analysis of the snow at the site," Viktor Beltsov,
a spokesman for the ministry, said.
The snow covered a 1,500 sq km area with 7,280 homes, Beltsov said.
Omsk is a heavily industrial city with a number of oil and gas refineries.
EPA exempts some pesticide use By H.JOSEF HEBERT Associated Press Writer
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that pesticides can be applied over and near bodies of water without
a permit under the federal Clean Water Act.
The decision brought immediate criticism from an environmental watchdog group and from a senator involved in environmental
issues. They said it would make it easier to pollute the nation's lakes and streams.
But the EPA said the two specific circumstances in which clean water permits no longer will be needed will add to public
health by allowing for better eradication of pests.
"This clean water rule strengthens and streamlines efforts of public health officials and communities to control pests
and invasive species while maintaining important environmental safeguards," said Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator
for water-related issues.
Under the rule, pesticides can be applied directly into water or sprayed nearby or onto foliage over water without a pollution
permit if the application is needed to control aquatic weeds, mosquitoes or other pests.
Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the permitting
exemption will lead to more toxic pollution getting into lakes and streams. He said a billion pounds of pesticides are used
annual in the United States "and much of it ends up in our waterways."
"We must strengthen, not weaken, our policies and laws that prevent pesticides from polluting rivers, streams, lakes and
our underground water supplies," Jeffords said in a statement.
Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a private public health and environmental advocacy group, called
the ruling a weakening of federal protection because the Clean Water Act set limits on the maximum contamination levels that
would be allowed to protect waterways.
"More protection is need from pesticides, not less," said Feldman.
Blacksmith Institute Names World’s
Has Most. Developing Countries Hardest Hit.
(TransWorldNews) Blacksmith Institute, an independent environmental group, today named
the world’s 10 most polluted places. Sites in eight countries affecting more than 10 million
people were identified as the areas where environmental degradation presents the worst long-term health threats and, at the
same, an opportunity to reverse the problems.
Worst-Polluted Places report was compiled by a team of international environment and health experts, including faculty
members from Johns Hopkins and Mt. Sinai Medical Center, serving on Blacksmith Institute’s Technical
Advisory Board. The panel developed criteria to rate 35 highly polluted sites derived from more than 300 candidates put forward
to Blacksmith for support in clean-up.
The ten on Blacksmith Institute’s Worst-Polluted Places list for 2006
are (in alphabetical order):
Haina, Dominican Republic;
La Oroya, Peru;
Ranipet, India; and
Rudnaya Pristan, Russia.
A copy of the report and more information are available at www.worstpolluted.com.
“Living in a town with serious pollution is like living under a death
sentence. If the damage does not come from immediate poisoning, then cancers, lung infections and mental retardation, are
likely outcomes,” the report states.
“The good news is we have known technologies and proven strategies for
eliminating a lot of this pollution,” says Richard Fuller, director of Blacksmith. “Our
experience shows that when you bring together governmental agencies, technical expertise, funding resources and local champions
you can make a real and measurable difference. The challenge is to generate the commitment –
this is where Blacksmith’s interventions can catalyze action.”
The organization will circulate the report to development agencies and governments, working to place
clean-up on the policy agenda and to increase funding, explained Fuller.
“The most important thing is to achieve some practical progress in dealing
with these polluted places,” says Dave Hanrahan, Blacksmith’s
director of global operations. “There is a lot of good work being done in understanding the
problems and in identifying possible approaches. Our goal is to instill a sense of urgency about tackling these priority sites.”
About Blacksmith Institute
Blacksmith Institute works around the globe to identify dangerously polluted sites and initiate their
clean up, using its Polluted Places methodology to focus efforts on the most productive interventions. For big problems, Blacksmith
works with local partners, including environmental authorities, to identify large-scale interventions for potential funding
by international agencies. Since 1999 Blacksmith Institute has completed 22 projects in 6 countries and is currently engaged
in 42 projects in 12 countries.
[Note to Editors: Photos are available. Please contact Jennifer Spiegler +1-917-822-2645
or Meredith Block +1-646-742-0200.]
Blacksmith Institute Jennifer Spiegler, 917-822-2645 firstname.lastname@example.org
ENVIRONMENT -- JUDGES STRIKE DOWN BUSH ANTI-ENVIRONMENT POLICIES:
Redden's decision is the most recent in a string of rulings critical of President Bush's environmental
In late August, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer accused the Forest Service of privileging timber
harvesting and "trampling" environmental laws.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laporte recently reinstated Clinton's "roadless rule," charging that the Bush administration had failed to cite any new evidence for its elimination, and
in Montana last week, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Malloy wrote that the Fish and Wildlife Service had "lost touch with science."
Dan Rohlf, law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, noted, "You are seeing frustration in the federal judiciary.
When judges express that frustration on paper, which is not all that often, they are often reflecting what they see as a systematic effort to get around the law."
ENVIRONMENT -- BUSH RELEASES WEAK NEW STANDARDS ON LETHAL AIR POLLUTANTS:
The new rule "lowers the limit on how much fine particulate matter Americans may be exposed to over
a 24-hour period," but "leaves unchanged the annual limit for 'fine particulate matter,' or soot, in the air."
Medical groups, environmentalists, and local public health officials blasted the announcement.
"For the first time in its 36-year history, EPA has ignored the recommendations of its independent scientific advisers, as well as agency staff
experts, in setting health-based air quality standards," said one director of an association representing state and local
air-pollution control officials.
"This final action will result in thousands of avoidable premature deaths, and thousands of cases of
cardiovascular and lung disease throughout the country,'' he said.
Lawmakers berated BP officials for failing to adequately address corrosion in its North Slope pipelines,
but the hearings quickly turned to the future of drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) lectured BP officials, "You have completely set back any hope we had to get
that bill passed in the Congress of the United States, I hope you know that."
US JUDGE BLOCKS BUSH LOGGING PLAN IN PROTECTED GIANT SEQUOIA PARK
A federal judge has blocked a plan by the US government to allow commercial logging in California's Giant Sequoia National
Monument, handing a victory to environmentalists who had sued to protect the ancient trees.
The giant Sequoias, evergreen redwood trees native only to California's Sierra Nevada, can live for several thousand years
and grow 90 meters (295 feet) high, with trunks 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter.
The powerful Sierra Club and several other environmental groups sued the federal government after the administration of
President George W. Bush decided in 2005 to open parts of the forest to commercial logging, in contradiction of a decree signed
in 2000 by Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton.
"The Forest Service's interest in harvesting timber has trampled the applicable environmental laws," Judge Charles Breyer,
attorney general for the US District Court for Northern California, wrote in his decision.
The Forest Service "should be managing Giant Sequoia as a gift to future generations, not as a gift to the timber industry,"
said Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club's conservation director, who welcomed the decision.
The Sierra Club wants the management of the national monument, located 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Los Angeles
in the Sierra Nevada mountains, to be transferred to neighboring Sequoia National Park, where flora and fauna are strictly
California's Democratic attorney general, Bill Lockyer, who filed a lawsuit in 2005 aginst the Bush administration's plan,
hailed the ruling as "a resounding victory for the Giant Sequoias, towering treasures that symbolize the magnificent beauty
of California's Sierra Nevada range and inspire awe in all of us."
KATRINA -- ONE YEAR LATER, NEW ORLEANS INFRASTRUCTURE REMAINS IN
As the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the Brookings Institution has released a
report examining the state of recovery and rebuilding in New Orleans.
The findings paint a grim picture. While the demolition of old houses has progressed, new housing is lagging because "rent prices in the region have increased by 39 percent over the year and home sale prices have
spiked in suburban parishes."
Roughly 100,000 people have applied for the "Road Home" housing-aid program, but they still have not
received government grants and may have to wait "more than two years before the last of the money is handed out."
Even with the loss of 190,000 workers, the unemployment level in New Orleans has reached
7.2 percent, "higher than last August." For the region's 278,000 workers who have been displaced by the storm, finding a job
is proving even more difficult, with nearly one in four unemployed.
ENVIRONMENT -- AMERICA SWELTERS DURING THE HOTTEST YEAR TO DATE:
“The first six months of 2006 were the warmest, on average, since the United States started keeping
records in 1895, and global warming is a contributing factor," a U.S. climate expert said yesterday.
"July, August and September are forecast to continue the hot trend over most of the United States,
including the vast area of the country west of the Mississippi River, as well as New England, Florida and southern Alaska,"
This week has seen "record high temperatures in New York and Connecticut," according to the the National Weather Service," while heat readings "topped
100 F from California to Texas and South Dakota to Kansas."
Warming 'threat to Asian security' Grim scenario of disease and disaster By Geoff
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Rapid global warming poses a variety of security threats to the Asia Pacific region that
have been "seriously underestimated," a new study says.
The report, released Tuesday by a Sydney-based think tank, paints a grim scenario of disease, food and water shortages,
natural disasters, territorial tensions and mass population movements threatening political stability in the region.
Rising sea levels, for example, could threaten heavily urbanized parts of Asia, such as China's Yellow and Yangzi River
deltas, and heavily populated low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, the report entitled "Heating up the Planet: Climate
Change and Security," by the Lowy Institute says.
Warmer temperatures could see the greater spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, while extreme
weather events could diminish food and clean water supplies.
And large, unregulated movements of people could put a heavy strain on the capacity of nations to cope, particularly if
there are pre-existing ethnic and social tensions.
Besides Bangladesh and China's east coast, other communities at risk from rising sea levels include Manila Bay in the Philippines,
the coastal fringes of Indonesia's Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan, and the Mekong, Chao Phraya and Irrawaddy deltas in Vietnam,
Thailand and Myanmar respectively.
Many small islands in the Pacific would be inundated, while the loss of economic rights associated with atolls and rocky
outcrops off the East Asian coast could trigger territorial tensions.
The authors, Australian academics Dr. Alan Dupont and Dr. Graeme Pearman, argue that "there is no longer much doubt that
the world is facing a prolonged period of planetary warming," that has been fueled largely by modern lifestyles.
Tipping point They say that while people have coped with climate change in the past when it has been spread over centuries
or longer, it is the potential rapidity of change that makes the threat so significant now.
"Compressed within the space of a single century, global warming will present far more daunting challenges of human and
biological adaptation," they say.
Abrupt climate change could push the plant's fragile ecosystem "past an environmental tripping point from which there will
be no winners," Dupont and Pearman say.
The most effective way to lessen the security risk of this prospective climate change is to reduce the level of greenhouse
gases that are responsible for heating up the planet.
The Lowy Institute report says the impact of climate change will add to destabilizing pressures on the region.
It points to low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, where a one-meter rise in sea-level would flood 17.5 percent of its
area and much of its food basket in the Ganges River delta.
"Far from exaggerating the impact of climate change, it is possible that scientists may have underestimated the threat,"
the study's authors say.
They identify a number of climatic wild cards, which are low-probability events with high impact. They include the collapse
of the global Thermohaline (deep-ocean) Circulation, which could trigger a rapid cooling of Europe's climate, a de-oxygenation
of the deep ocean, and reduced capacity of the oceans to absorb part of the released carbon dioxide.
They say another wild card may be the way aerosols are masking the real level of global warming, pointing to the Asian
"brown haze" that stretches from the northern Indian Ocean to China and Southeast Asia during the northern summer.
Five complications According to the report, climate change will complicate the regional security environment in several
Weather extremes and greater fluctuations in rainfall and temperatures could quickly refashion the Asia-Pacific region's
productive landscape and exacerbate food, water and energy scarcities. Rising sea levels are of particular concern because
of the density of coastal populations and the potential for large-scale displacement of people in Asia.
Climate change will contribute to destabilizing, unregulated population movements in Asia and the Pacific. While most of
these flows are likely to be internal, their ripple effects will be felt beyond the borders of the states most affected, requiring
cooperative regional solutions.
More extreme weather patterns will result in greater death and destruction from natural disasters, adding to the burden
on poorer countries and stretching the resources and coping ability of even the most developed nations.
Extreme weather events and climate-related disasters will not only trigger short-term disease spikes but also have more
enduring health security consequences, since some infectious diseases will become more widespread as the planet heats up.
Even if not catastrophic in themselves, the cumulative impact of rising temperatures, sea levels and more mega droughts
on agriculture, fresh water and energy could threaten the security of states in the region by reducing their carrying capacity
below a minimum threshold. The study concludes with a number of recommendations, including a cut in the level of greenhouse
It says this would require a "fundamental transformation" of the world's approach to energy use, with cleaner coal, more
fuel-efficient hybrid cars and the increased use of gas, nuclear power and renewable energy sources.
It says relying on fossil fuels inevitably would warm the planet to levels that would put unprecedented stress on its ecosystem,
and "challenge the adaptive capacities of future generations."
ENVIRONMENT -- MEMORIAL DAY GAS PRICES UP 75 CENTS FROM LAST YEAR:
Nearly 38 million Americans are expected to hit the road "for the beginning of the travel season this Memorial Day weekend" -- and
they'll be paying for it at the pump.
The national average for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.88 a gallon on Monday, according to the Department of Energy, a 75 cent jump from one year ago this time, when the
average was $2.12 a gallon.
Redford explained, "I think it's important to see the true story being told about how we got there, why we've had a lack
of political leadership on the issue and what the solutions are and how the American people, by looking at this campaign,
can get involved and push, pressure their elected officials."
One of the solutions Redford mentioned is to promote the usage of E-85, an alternative ethanol-based fuel.
The show also highlighted a new online video calling attention to the disastrous
consequences of America's addiction to oil. Watch the video and take action at KickTheOilHabit.org.
ENVIRONMENT -- EPA DIVERTS RESOURCES FROM PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
TO HOMELAND SECURITY:
The Bush administration continues to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and
divert resources devoted to protecting the nation's natural resources.
Most recently on May 1, the EPA announced the creation of a new top-level position, the Associate Administrator for Homeland Security, which will be "responsible for EPA's planning, prevention, preparedness and response to incidents of
CLIMATE CHANGE - ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES TO MUZZLE SCIENTISTS:
Last week, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced new guidelines that would allow NASA scientists to speak more freely on topics such as climate change.
Griffin said the new policy "guarantees that NASA scientists may communicate their conclusions to the
media, but requires that they draw a distinction between professional conclusions and personal views."
In 2003, Kempthorne was rumored to be the leading candidate to head the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA). But a rashofreports detailed that, under the Kempthorne administration, "Idaho’s pristine air [had] gotten dirtier,
more rivers [had] been polluted, fewer polluters [had] been inspected and more toxins [had] contaminated the air, water and
Kempthorne financed his 2002 re-election campaign with $86,000 from timber, mining, and energy industries. Environmental rights groups immediately rallied in opposition to the nomination.
Earthjustice released a statement saying, "As Governor, Kempthorne led the
charge to strip protection from 60 million acres of America's last wild forests and he's consistently fought against protection
for wildlife like grizzly bears and salmon in his home state of Idaho.
He's openly hostile to America's natural areas and wildlife -- which puts him outside the mainstream of what people want to see for their children and their future."
Two days after the attacks, the EPA began issuing press statements reassuring residents and rescue
workers close to the World Trade Center.
But by Dec. 2001, environmental groups were finding "asbestos and other toxins at double the threshold
of safety" and a Freedom of Information Act request turned up 800 pages of hidden EPA samples that revealed the same.
"Furthermore, the White House Council on Environmental Quality influenced...the information that EPA
communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete
cautionary ones." "We were being duped," said Brooklyn Heights resident and plaintiff Jenny Orkin, "and I'd like to find out why."
This is significant, since the official position of the Bush administration is that global warming
"Bush, you will recall, asked the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 whether humans are causing
the earth to warm," science journalist Chris Mooney reports.
"The NAS, predictably, said that indeed we were. Since then, the administration has officially proceeded
as [if] global warming is real."
Even more disturbing is that President Bush would receive his science advice from a novelist whose latest book is about a corrupt scientist who invents false data about global warming to help raise funds for his
projects, then contracts a group of global terrorists to create a series of floods, tsunamis, and other natural disasters
to "prove" his point.
The bad news is the book's science is apparently evenworse than its plot.
LISTED BELOW ARE VARIOUS NEWS ARTICALS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ABOUT THE EARTH'S
ENVIROMENT, AND GEORGE W. BUSH'S PLANS TO SCREW UP THE PLANET EARTH IN THE NAME OF BIG BUSINESS.
"First, we would not accept a treaty
that would not have been ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for the country." George W. Bush, on the Kyoto accord,
April 24, 2001
YodasWorld.org is updated each Monday. Some of
the items from the previous week are added to the various topic links on the left side of the main page. Links embedded
should be good for at least the date posted. After the posting date, link reliability depends on the policy of the linked
sites. Some sites require visitors to register before allowing access to articles. Material presented on this page represent
the opinion's of YodasWorld.org.
Copyright 2000-2011 YodasWorld.org. All rights
reserved on original works. Material copyrighted by others is used either with permission or under a claim of "fair use."