Tuesday, September 14, 2004

NY Times:

Over the last three and a half years, federal officials have accelerated resource development on public lands. They have also pushed to eliminate regulatory hurdles for military and industrial projects.
From the start, Bush officials challenged the status quo and revised the traditional public-policy calculus on environmental decisions. They put an instant hold on many Clinton administration regulations, and the debates over those issues and others are intensely polarized.
The administration's approach has provoked a passionate response. Asked about his expectations in the event of President Bush's re-election, Senator James M. Jeffords, the Vermont independent who is the ranking minority member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote in an e-mail message: "I expect the Bush administration to continue their assault on regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. I expect the Bush administration to continue underfunding compliance and enforcement activities."
Mr. Jeffords concluded, "I expect the Bush administration will go down in history as the greatest disaster for public health and the environment in the history of the United States."
For many environmental groups, Mr. Bush's legacy was assured in his first year, thanks to highly publicized decisions that effectively repudiated Clinton administration positions. Mr. Bush backed off a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide and abandoned the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. Then the administration pushed, unsuccessfully, for a law allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It scrapped the phaseout of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park and briefly dropped a Clinton proposal to cut the permissible level of arsenic in drinking water by 80 percent.
The cumulative effect was striking. The decisions sought to reverse environmental action for which there was broad support. Polls by The New York Times in mid-2001 and late 2002 consistently showed public opposition to drilling in the Arctic refuge. A CBS poll in the same period showed that, by ratios of better than two to one, those polled said that environmental protection was more important than energy production.

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