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[greenyes] Bush & Environment Polling
<<
What explains President Bush's positive rating on handling the environment
when other polls taken at roughly the same time show that people trust the
Democrats much more than the Republicans as stewards of the environment?
>>

cf editorial in yesterday's NY Times:
/Bill Sheehan

"One reason may be that the issues at stake are too regional. ... But the
administration itself may now have witlessly altered this dynamic with its
reckless and insupportable decision to eviscerate a central provision of the
Clean Air Act .."


Politics and Pollution

President Bush's critics have watched with mounting frustration as his
administration has compiled one of the worst environmental records in recent
history without paying any real political price. One reason may be that the
issues at stake are too regional, like forest fires or salmon recovery, or
too remote, like global warming. But the administration itself may now have
witlessly altered this dynamic with its reckless and insupportable decision
to eviscerate a central provision of the Clean Air Act and allow power
plants, refineries and other industrial sites to spew millions of tons of
unhealthy pollutants into the air.

The proposed changes in the act, formally announced yesterday, are so
transparently a giveaway to Mr. Bush's corporate allies and so widely
unpopular among the officials responsible for air quality in the individual
states that they have already assumed a place in the nascent presidential
race. Democratic candidates are competing to see who can express more
outrage - John Kerry, for instance, calls the changes a " `get out of jail
free' card" for polluters. Moderate Republicans are dismayed and
embarrassed. The issue will acquire even greater momentum when the new rules
are published as a fait accompli in the Federal Register, and a dozen or
more states sue in federal court to have them stayed and then overturned.

These suits could easily succeed. The new rules are a clear violation of
Congress's intent in 1977, when it required utilities and other polluters to
install modern pollution-control technology whenever they modified their
plants in ways that increased emissions. The Justice Department identified
51 plants that were in violation of the 1977 rule because they had been
upgraded without the required pollution controls. Several of these cases
have been resolved in the government's favor, but the administration's
action clearly jeopardizes the remaining lawsuits.

As the administration's defense takes shape, the public should beware of
half-truths and artful demagogy. One specious line of argument is that the
old rule inhibited companies from doing routine maintenance and making
plants more efficient. The administration has offered no compelling evidence
to support that beyond the anecdotal say-so of a few utilities. A companion
argument, made by apologists for the White House, is that the old rule
contributed to the blackout. This, too, is nonsense. The blackout was caused
by deficiencies in the transmission grid or its management and had nothing
to do with environmental regulations or a shortage of power.

This line of reasoning is eerily reminiscent of the efforts to blame
environmentalists for the California energy crisis, and is equally as
hollow.






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