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[GreenYes] Pres.-Elect Bush's Environmental Appointments


            InfoBeat - Bush picks called business friendly

            By H. JOSEF HEBERT
            Associated Press Writer
                       WASHINGTON (AP) - Testimony by three of President-elect Bush's
            Cabinet nominees before the Senate this week could highlight a
            fundamental shift from the Clinton years on environmental
                       Bush's choices to head the Environmental Protection Agency and
            the departments of Interior and Energy espouse a more
            business-friendly approach in dealing with everything from air
            pollution and endangered species protection to public access to
            federal land.
                       Environmentalists have stepped up their campaign against Gale
            Norton, the former Colorado attorney general nominated as interior
            secretary. Opposition to New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman as EPA
            administrator and former Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan as energy
            secretary, has been less intense, but both are likely to face sharp
            questions from Senate Democrats.
                       While all three are expected to win approval, the Senate
            hearings Wednesday and Thursday will delineate the dramatic
            philosophical differences between Bush and the outgoing Clinton
            administration on protecting the environment and addressing the
            country's looming energy problems.
                       For business groups and Western property rights advocates, the
            shift is a long-awaited change from what they have viewed as overly
            restrictive dictates from Washington. Many environmentalists,
            meanwhile, fear the Bush nominees will roll back what they view as
            significant environmental advances made under President Clinton.
                       The new administration will adopt ``more innovative,
            market-based solutions to land management problems,'' says David
            Riggs, a natural resource expert at the Competitive Enterprise
                       He said Norton, a strong advocate of states' rights and property
            rights, will provide ``an opportunity to rethink and reformulate
            environmental policy'' as head of the federal government's leading
            land agency.
                       Like Norton, Whitman also has favored greater business and state
            involvement in environmental regulations. In contrast, the Clinton
            EPA frequently clashed with states over environmental enforcement.
                       When Bush announced Whitman's selection to head the EPA, he
            complained of Washington's ``central command-and-control mindset,''
            prompting Whitman to reply that she knew what it was like ``to be
            on the receiving end'' of federal mandates.
                       Both Norton and Whitman also have strongly advocated letting
            businesses regulate themselves. They support state self-audit laws
            through which companies may admit environmental wrongdoing but
            escape penalties if they agree to correct the problems. The Clinton
            EPA has criticized this approach as a loophole that lets polluters
            off the hook.
                       Whitman, who appears Wednesday before the Senate Environment and
            Public Works Committee, is expected to face tough questioning from
            Democrats on the self-auditing issue as well as decisions to relax
            New Jersey's environmental enforcement program.
                       Environmentalists fear Norton and Whitman will give states and
            business interests broad leeway in dealing with a wide array of
            issues including protecting natural resources, meeting air quality
            standards and imposing limits on water pollution.
                       Business groups say they expect to find a more receptive ear on
            such matters as opening federal land to oil and gas drilling,
            softening Clinton requirements on cleaner diesel fuel and favorable
            action on greenhouse emissions from power plants and new air
            standards for microscopic soot.
                       These have been top priorities of the Clinton administration,
            despite business arguments that the rules were overly restrictive,
            too costly to meet and, in some cases, based on faulty or
            incomplete science.
                       Bush's view on energy policy, expected to surface Thursday when
            Norton and Abraham appear in back-to-back sessions of the Senate
            Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also marks a decisive
            philosophical split from the outgoing administration.
                       Bush has emphasized energy production, while the Clinton
            administration has argued that America must cut its energy use
            through conservation and a shift away from fossil fuels.
                       Both Abraham and Norton _ reflecting the views of Bush and Vice
            President Dick Cheney _ have pressed for opening the Arctic
            National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. Clinton
            vigorously opposed drilling in the refuge, once vetoing a spending
            bill that would have allowed it.
                       Still, Abraham, who lost his Senate re-election bid in November,
            is expected to find support among his former colleagues. They
            likely will ask him about one thing, however: Why did he co-sponsor
            legislation in 1999 abolishing the very Energy Department he now
            wants to head?
Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011

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