Enviros Temperature Rising. (the Front)

By Lobe, Jim | Multinational Monitor, January-February 2003 | Go to article overview

Enviros Temperature Rising. (the Front)


Lobe, Jim, Multinational Monitor


Amid growing anger among envionmentalists over the record and intentions of President George Bush, three major U.S. environmental groups announced in December that they are suing his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to curb global warming.

The lawsuit by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) charges the EPA with violating the 1977 Clean Air Act by failing to limit air pollution caused by automobiles that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare."

Despite growing impacts of global warming on human health and the environment, the three groups charged, the EPA has steadfastly refused to control automobile emissions, which contribute to global warming.

"It's time for the Bush administration to get its head out of the sand," charges Joseph Mendelson, CTA's legal director. "The EPA stalling tactics are doing real damage in the fight against global warming."

The lawsuit marks the latest expression of rising frustration on the part of environmental activists over the administration's failure to act, despite a report by its own scientists last June that concluded that the burning of fossil fuels for industry and automobiles was contributing heavily to the climate change that will wreak havoc on natural ecosystems throughout the United States.

Environmentalists also fear future administration plans, particularly now that Republicans have gained control of both houses of Congress. Last year, much of the administrations's energy plan, particularly its hopes of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling by U.S. energy companies, was held up by the Democratic majority in the Senate.

But Republican control of Congress should make it much easier for Bush to relax existing environmental laws and regulations over the coining two years, at the behest of energy and automobile companies and electrical utilities that contributed heavily to his presidential campaign in 2000.

In the Senate, for example, the new committee chairs dealing with energy and the environment both support drilling in ANWR and have among the upper chamber's worst voting records on environmental protection.

In one of his first moves after the November 2002 elections, Bush proposed a substantial loosening of federal regulations under the Clean Air Act to permit old coal-fired power plants to upgrade their facilities without requiring them to install new anti-pollution equipment, as they must now do.

While the administration insisted that the change would encourage investment that would eventually result in cleaner air, environmentalists blasted the proposals as a major step back in the fight against air pollution, and a number of leading Democrats called for EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to resign her post in protest.

Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey, has long urged Bush to toughen regulations governing the Clean Air Act and even to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the international accord that requires industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions some 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. …

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