Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More bad environmental news, this time mercury. Kudos to the USA Today for reporting it. Alarming: "States issued warnings for mercury and other pollutants in 2003 for nearly 850,000 miles of U.S. rivers — a 65% increase over 2002 — and 14 million acres of lakes. The warning level is the highest ever reported by the EPA."

And what has Bush Inc. done to at least attempt to alleviate this growing, serious problem? Click here, and here for a story out just three weeks ago.

Oh, and the LA Times has a front-page story about how Bush Inc. is pushing hard to drill for oil and gas in Rocky Mountain states.

Just get a load of this:

The administration has pressed for approval of new drilling permits across the Rocky Mountains and lifted protections on hundreds of thousands of acres with gas and oil reserves in Utah and Colorado. In the process, it has targeted a number of places prized for their scenery, abundant wildlife and clean water, natural assets increasingly valuable to the region's changing economy.

Soon after taking office in 2001, the Bush White House set up a little-known task force that acts as a complaint desk for industry, passing energy company concerns directly to federal land management employees in the field. Although the creation of White House task forces is commonplace, experts on the executive branch say it is unusual to have one primarily serving the interests of a single industry.

In addition, the Bureau of Land Management has been pushed to issue drilling permits at a record pace for three of the last four years, an increase of 70% since the Clinton administration.

Internal memos and interviews show senior administration officials have directed federal employees to be responsive to industry, commended offices that approved large numbers of drilling permits and chastised those that were slow.

The effort is so intense in the oil- and gas-rich Rockies that some Bureau of Land Management employees there have taken to calling the region "the OPEC states."
Outlined during the 2000 campaign, the administration's course was set the following year with a national energy plan developed by a Cabinet-level group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Citing executive privilege, the vice president has kept confidential the records of people who met with the group.

The evolving policy is being carried out by senior officials at the Department of Interior, a number of whom have past ties to the energy industry.
Yet environmentalists and some current and former BLM officials contend that the administration is sacrificing some of the most spectacular natural spaces in the West for a short-term bump in supplies. Despite all the drilling, they say, foreign imports of oil and gas have not declined. They also say Bush's and Cheney's failure to emphasize energy conservation and alternative sources is leading to irreversible damage to federal lands, water, air and wildlife.

And this amazing graphic:

When will this national nightmare end?

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