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[greenyes] Pres. Bush's Plans on the Environment


November 8, 2004
G.O.P. Plans to Give Environment Rules a Free-Market Tilt

ASHINGTON, Nov. 7 - With the elections over, Congress and the Bush
administration are moving ahead with ambitious environmental agendas that
include revamping signature laws on air pollution and endangered species and
reviving a moribund energy bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge to energy exploration.

In addition, the administration intends to accelerate conservation
efforts by distributing billions of dollars to private landowners for the
preservation of wetlands and wildlife habitats. The White House also plans
to announce next month a new effort to clean up the Great Lakes.

The groundwork for the push was laid down in the past four years even
as environmental groups, Congressional moderates and the courts put the
brakes on major changes. But the election returns that gave Mr. Bush a clear
victory and expanded the Republicans' majorities in Congress have emboldened
those determined to hard-wire free-market principles into all environmental

"The election is a validation of our philosophy and agenda," Michael
O. Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in an
interview. "We will make more progress in less time while maintaining
economic competitiveness for the country. That is my mission."

Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, chairman of the Committee on
Energy and Commerce, said he was eager to get the process started and
encouraged the environmental groups and Democrats who typically oppose
Republican initiatives "to come out of the trenches and meet me halfway."

But with industry groups anticipating relaxed regulations and
environmental groups fighting to retain stiff regulations, the environmental
debate over the next four years could be contentious.

"What you're going to see is an administration focused on setting
broad goals and then letting states and companies and individuals work to
achieve those, within an economic framework," said Charles Wehland, a lawyer
for Jones Day in Chicago who represents clients like the OGE Energy
Corporation and the Great Lakes Chemical Corporation. But Phil Clapp,
president of the National Environmental Trust, a nonprofit group, warned the
White House and Congressional leadership that it would be risky to further
push the agenda of the last four years.

"George Bush doesn't have to run again, but Republican lawmakers do,"
Mr. Clapp said. "They know there is a cost to their political association
with rolling back environmental laws."

Nationally, the environment was a sleeper issue that never awoke. But
concern for environmental and conservation issues was sometimes visible at
the local level. Montana voters, for instance, rejected an initiative to
overturn a ban on a form of mining cyanide, effectively blocking a large new
mine on the Blackfoot River.


Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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