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EPA Head resigns cuz of Bush

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by KickIT, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. KickIT

    KickIT TRIBE Member

    From alternet.org


    The following letter of resignation was submitted to Christine Todd Whitman on Feb. 27, 2002, by Eric Schaeffer, head of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Regulatory Enforcement. Schaeffer resigned to protest the Bush administration's attempts to weaken federal clean air policy. Schaeffer's resignation has prompted Senate hearings into the President Bush's environmental record.

    Dear Ms. Whitman:

    I resign today from the Environmental Protection Agency after 12 years of service, the last five as Director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and leave with a deep admiration for the men and women of EPA who dedicate their lives to protecting the environment and the public health. Their faith in the Agency's mission is an inspiring example to those who still believe that government should stand for the public interest.

    But I cannot leave without sharing my frustration about the fate of our enforcement actions against power companies that have violated the Clean Air Act. Between November of 1999 and December of 2000, EPA filed lawsuits against nine power companies for expanding their plants without obtaining New Source Review permits and the up-to-date pollution controls required by law. The companies named in our lawsuits emit an incredible 5 million tons of sulfur dioxide every year (a quarter of the emissions in the entire country) as well as 2 million tons of nitrogen oxide.

    As the scale of pollution from these coal-fired smokestacks is immense, so is the damage to public health. Data supplied to the Senate Environment Committee by EPA last year estimate the annual health bill from 7 million tons of SO2 and NO2: more than 10,800 premature deaths; at least 5,400 incidents of chronic bronchitis; more than 5,100 hospital emergency visits; and over 1.5 million lost work days. Add to that severe damage to our natural resources, as acid rain attacks soils and plants and deposits nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay and other critical bodies of water.

    Fifteen months ago, it looked as though our lawsuits were going to shrink these dismal statistics, when EPA publicly announced agreements with Cinergy and Vepco to reduce Sox and Nox emissions by a combined 750,000 tons per year. Settlements already lodged with two other companies -- TECO and PSE&G -- will eventually take another quarter million tons of Nox and Sox out of the air annually. If we get similar results from the nine companies with filed complaints, we are on track to reduce both pollutants by a combined 4.8 million tons per year. And that does not count the hundreds of thousands of additional tons that can be obtained from other companies with whom we have been negotiating.

    Yet today, we seem about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We are in the ninth month of a "90 day review" to reexamine the law, and fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce. It is hard to know which is worse, the endless delay or the repeated leaks by energy industry lobbyists of draft rule changes that would undermine lawsuits already filed. At their heart, these proposals would turn narrow exemptions into larger loopholes that would allow old "grandfathered" plants to be continually rebuilt (and emissions to increase) without modern pollution controls.

    Our negotiating position is weakened further by the Administration's budget proposal to cut the civil enforcement program by more than 200 staff positions below the 2001 level. Already, we are unable to fill key staff positions, not only in air enforcement, but in other critical programs, and the proposed budget cuts would leave us desperately short of the resources needed to deal with the large, sophisticated corporate defendants we face. And it is completely unrealistic to expect underfunded state environmental programs, facing their own budget cuts, to take up the slack.

    It is no longer possible to pretend that the ongoing debate with the White House and Department of Energy is not effecting our ability to negotiate settlements. Cinergy and Vepco have refused to sign the consent decrees they agreed to 15 months ago, hedging their bets while waiting for the Administration's Clean Air Act reform proposals. Other companies with whom we were close to settlement have walked away from the table. The momentum we obtained with agreements announced earlier has stopped, and we have filed no new lawsuits against utility companies since this Administration took office. We obviously cannot settle cases with defendants who think we are still rewriting the law.

    The arguments against sustaining our enforcement actions don't hold up to scrutiny.

    Were the complaints filed by the U.S. government based on conflicting or changing interpretations? The Justice Department doesn't think so. Its review of our enforcement actions found EPA's interpretation of the law to be reasonable and consistent. While the Justice Department has gamely insisted it will continue to prosecute existing cases, the confusion over where EPA is going with New Source Review has made settlement almost impossible, and protracted litigation inevitable.

    What about the energy crisis? It stubbornly refuses to materialize, as experts predict a glut of power plants in some areas of the U.S. In any case, our settlements are flexible enough to provide for cleaner air while protecting consumers from rate shock.

    The relative costs and benefits? EPA's regulatory impact analyses, reviewed by OMB, quantify health and environmental benefits of $7,300 per ton of SO2 reduced at a cost of less than $1,000 per ton. These cases should be supported by anyone who thinks cost-benefit analysis is a serious tool for decision-making, not a political game.

    Is the law too complicated to understand? Most of the projects our cases targeted involved big expansion projects that pushed emission increases many times over the limits allowed by law.

    Should we try to fix the problem by passing a new law? Assuming the Administration's bill survives a legislative odyssey in today's evenly divided Congress, it will send us right back where we started with new rules to write, which will then be delayed by industry challenges, and with fewer emissions reductions than we can get by enforcing today's law.

    I believe you share the concerns I have expressed, and wish you well in your efforts to persuade the Administration to put our enforcement actions back on course. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican and our greatest environmental President, said, "Compliance with the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favor." By showing that powerful utility interests are not exempt from that principle, you will prove to EPA's staff that their faith in the Agency's mission is not in vain. And you will leave the American public with an environmental victory that will be felt for generations to come.

    Eric V. Schaeffer

  2. LoopeD

    LoopeD TRIBE Member

    Yet another shining example that the WORLD (not just America) cares more about praying, saving money and killing others who don't worship their Gods than it does about the environment.

    Other countries that are grossly irresponsible in respect to pollution control:

    Canada - that's some lovely clean air we got there! You can blame it on the U.S all you want; fact of the matter is there's too many cars and transport trucks, too many steel mills and too little taking of blame.

    Most of Europe

    Actually, pretty damn near every industrialized country on the planet. Its funny, really, that nothing will be done until we all have to wear nose filters and gas masks just to go to the corner store...........

    That's humans for ya!

  3. Subsonic Chronic

    Subsonic Chronic TRIBE Member

    And the dissent keeps on growing...

    We still have this problem where the people in charge (be it in Canada, the U.S., and other industrialized nations) cannot equate the current environmental state with the srvival of the planet. Their eyes are clouded with dollar signs and they can't see through that to that fact that we are destroying the plant.

    Global Warming is no longer a theory, it is happening, now. But to the few who are in power, selling out to power and oil companies is more important. The current economy is more important than peoples lives.

  4. Rosey

    Rosey TRIBE Member

    oh come on people!!!

    can't you see? the EPA is part of the axis of evil! they are obviously dedicated to the destruction of the FREEDOM and LIBERITY of the american people! we must stand together in this time of conmflict ot overcome the heathen masses that deny our god given right to do wahtever the fuck we want.
  5. LoopeD

    LoopeD TRIBE Member

    Unfortunately, its not just governments that are to blame. If the electric car was released tomorrow, at a price a few thousand more than an average car, how many people would be rushing out to buy one, if there were still gas-fueled cars available at a cheaper rate? Everyone's cheap, and no one looks at the big picture until it intimately affects their routine.

    The main problem is the world is run by dollar signs, and its everyone's fault, from governments to the foreman of the construction site using cheaper more environentally damaging materials, to you who leave the car idling outside the store.

    Subsonic: We Are Destroying The Plant? ;)

  6. Gizmo

    Gizmo TRIBE Member

    I think it is only going to get worse.

    Following the US's unilateral imposition of steel tariffs on foreign steel, they've lost credibility with the World Community at large. They look like hypocrites.

    The States have always argued for free market economics - especially towards the Europeans. This has lead to much frustration, especially for the French - wo were powerless to do anything as Britain and Germany were always in the States' corner.

    But now with even the Germans and French complaining, any time the US attempts to put legitimate environmental concerns and legislation forward, the rest of the world can turn around, give them a finger and simply say "you guys don't play by the rules you preach, so why should we"

    Canada has to be loving the fact they got exempted as a right of NAFTA. I wonder how much Stelco and Dofasco gave to the republicans. ;)
  7. twist

    twist TRIBE Member

    I'd just like to point out that while it's nice to complain and make note of things... where do you get your power to run the computer you're on? Are you willing to spend that extra 1000 bucks on a low power fridge or some shit or an extra 100 or 200 bucks on your hydro bill. Everybody bitches about the enviroment but in reality almost everyday of their life they add to its destruction but when big companies do it it's a travesty. Not everyone is bad but come on now. If they turned off the power tomorrow to stop the smoke from killing our planet I somehow doubt anyone here would be impressed. I know that it takes education and yada yada to help find a solution or create awareness but honestly if I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone complain about big business and how they're ruining the world as they drink a can of coke or some shit i'd have enough money to have everyone who complains taken out and shot and I could get on with turning this planet into a giant smoldering hunk of rock.
  8. Lurch

    Lurch TRIBE Member

    Always thinking about weed eh Pete?!?!? :D
  9. KickIT

    KickIT TRIBE Member

    Ontario is about as bad as the states if not worse. The irony I find in all of this is that governments claim they care about the environment. They pass all this so-called ground breaking legislation so politicians can put these so-called achievements in their political portfolios.

    The truth of the matter is, there are two parts to laws. 1. The law itself (legal wording, etc.) and 2. the enforcement of the law. Politicians have mastered the art of creating laws without also creating the infrastructure needed to enforce these laws. Therefore we have laws that are not enforced, basically making them useless.

  10. Subsonic Chronic

    Subsonic Chronic TRIBE Member

    My eyes are clouded... but not by dollar signs. ;)

    And Looped... despite my guilt, I continue to assist in the destruction of the planet every time I spark up. :(

  11. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Clean Air

    There's a relatively simple way to drastically reduce air pollution, while still maintaining a cheap and reliable power supply ...


    People should be more concerned about speeding up the approval process for new nuclear capacity, otherwise, energy companies will continue to build coal plants in order to meet demand.

    Renewables are certainly an important area for growth, but they currently cannot provide large-scale supply. You need 1,000 wind turbines to replace one big coal plant. In addition, renewables already receive favourable treatment in the approval process, as well as tax credits.

    Nuclear power is demonized by environmentalists, yet they are blind to its necessity in reducing reliance on high-emission generating technology.
  12. dlerium88

    dlerium88 TRIBE Member

    Yeah nuclear power plants are great..except when they blow up and kill all those people...but really it doesnt happen that often...

    (I can't even tell if I'm being sarcastic or not)
  13. Littlest Hobo

    Littlest Hobo TRIBE Member

    Re: Clean Air

    Good post.

    The problem is that people hear ‘nuclear power’ and automatically think Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. These events are not the norm, but (rightfully so) scare the shit out of people.

    The most pressing issue in nuclear power generation is the disposal of spent fuel. There seems to be NIMBY approach to transportation and containment.
  14. Sukebe Jiji

    Sukebe Jiji TRIBE Promoter

    Haven't any of you guys seen the Shell commercials?!?! They are trying to save the environment!! REALLY!
  15. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Nuclear Power

    Chernobyl is the only nuclear accident to result in fatalities since the birth of nuclear power. Can you really compare state-of-the-art CANDU technology with a 30 year old, communist era Russian plant?

    Similarly, although Three Mile Island stands as a rallying cry for anti-nuclear activists, the reactor meltdown was completely contained and a negligible amount of radiation was released into the environment (certainly not enough to pose a serious health risk). If anything, Three Mile Island proved that sufficient safety procedures exist to prevent an accident from becoming a disaster. Keep in mind, nuclear technology and standards have improved dramatically since 1979 as well.

    The issue of spent fuel disposal also stems from the same innate fear of everything nuclear. Seriously, burying used fuel miles and miles beneath the rock solid Canadian Shield is hardly cause for concern. It's much safer than any garbage landfill in the world in terms of contamination risk.

    In addition, a significant portion of spent fuel can actually be recycled and reused in nuclear reactors. The British have already been doing it, although the process is quite expensive.
  16. Littlest Hobo

    Littlest Hobo TRIBE Member

    I know this and you I know this. When will the soccor moms and smelly hippies learn?:p
  17. Rosey

    Rosey TRIBE Member

    the fact is that burning coal releases more radioactive isotopes into the environment, then nuclear plants do. when coal is burnt the trapped material is released randomly through the smoke stack, radioactive waste from nuclear power is in nice, containable bundles.

    the real risk of heat pollution, dumping steaming water into lakes and rivers once the turbines have been turned....but that can be overcome.
  18. Sporty Dan

    Sporty Dan TRIBE Member

    Re: Nuclear Power

    ....it;s also where they GET the Uranium from in the first place to power the reactors.........there;s already plenty of radiation down there to go around.

    Global warming has been observed on Mars for the last several years also. Would you care to try to blame this on Bush somehow too???

    Until last year no one ever bothered to consider what effects the sun might have the on earths tempurature. When it was studied finally it was found that *gasp* the sun gets warmer sometimes too and puts out more heat. Correlating their models and studies to past earth climate produced a 1500 year cycle of global warming and cooling cause entirely by the sun.

    And once again I will refer you to NASA data regarding pollution.

    Watch the mpeg and you can see that North America is not a major source of fossil fuel emisions. This is why Bush does not want to take part in any treaties...... because the US is already doing their part to reduce emmisions, it is all the less developed countries that have seen their CO2 emmisions go through the roof over the last few decades.

  19. twist

    twist TRIBE Member

    we're heading into another ice age anyways
  20. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Just to clarify, North America is not a major NET contributor of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Sure, we definitely produce a lot of CO2 from our cars, agriculture, and power plants. But our continent also happens to have vast regions of dense forest.

    Under the current Kyoto protocol, credits for so-called "carbon sinks" are vague and ambiguous ... another reason why Bush refuses to sign.
  21. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Global Warming

    Everyone probably remembers from history class ... when the Vikings crossed the Atlantic ocean and landed in "Vineland"? The name obviously refers to the grapes they found growing on the island of Newfoundland.

    Obviously, the average temperature in this region has changed significantly, and through entirely natural means. Why shouldn't we expect climatic conditions to return to this level over time, again, through natural cycles?

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