Bush administration quietly works to torpedo global warming regulations
White House emailing mayors to oppose greenhouse gas limitsOn his way out the door, President Bush seems to be taking one last shot at torpedoing court-ordered action to restrict global warming.
Top Bush administration figures have been e-mailing sympathetic mayors and other allies encouraging them to oppose Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court last year ordered the EPA to craft a proposal to limit the emissions under the Clean Air Act, but the White House made clear it doesn't like the idea.
"At the time, President Bush warned that this was the wrong way to regulate emissions. [House Energy and Commerce Committee] Chairman John D. Dingell called it 'a glorious mess,' " Jeremy J. Broggi, associate director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin. "And many of you contacted us to let us know how harmful this rule would be to the economies of the cities and counties you serve."
"The Bush administration," Eilperin says, "...is sending out a message to some of its allies: Tell us how much you don't want us to regulate emissions linked to global warming."
The e-mail appears to be one is a series of steps Bush is taking to leave as many as his fingerprints as possible on federal policy before he leaves office. The administration is pushing through an array of parallel deregulatory policies including lifting barriers to mountaintop coal mining and ocean-fishing along with easing standards governing drinking water quality.
Regarding the EPA emissions policy, the White House reminded mayors of an upcoming Nov. 28 deadline to comment on the proposal. When executive branch agencies craft regulations they account for comments from the public in their decision-making process; a stream of negative comments from Republican mayors opposed to air quality regulations could lead the agency to develop a more lax proposal.
An environmental advocate condemned what seemed a bald attempt from the administration to block moves to improve air quality and decrease global warming.
"It appears there is no bottom to the administration's pit of disdain for regulating greenhouse gases," S. William Becker, executive director for the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, told the Post. "On the eve of the comment deadline on one of the most important environmental issues of our time, the White House is resorting to scare tactics, including rhetoric from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to incite opposition among elected county and city officials."
Among other environmentally-challenging rules the White House is proposing, via the Christian Science Monitor:
Mountaintop mining. The proposed new rule would allow mining companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop-removal mining closer to rivers and streams.
Endangered species consultation. The rule would alter implementation of the Endangered Species Act by letting federal land-use managers approve projects like highways, mining, or logging without consulting federal habitat managers and biological health experts responsible for species protection. Currently, consultation is required.
Air pollution near national parks. The proposed rule would ease current restrictions that make it difficult for power plants to operate near national parks and wilderness areas.
Runoff and air pollution from factory farms. Under new rules, factory farms could let their runoff pollute waterways without a permit. (The rule circumvents the Clean Water Act, allowing for self-regulation.) Another rule would exempt factory farms from reporting air pollution emissions from animal waste.
New Source Review changes. The rule would change the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Source Review program, which requires new facilities or renovating facilities to install better pollution-control technology, by making fewer facilities subject to its requirements.
Environmental impacts of fishery decisions. The rule would transfer the responsibility for examining the environmental impacts of federal ocean-management decisions from federal employees to advisory groups that represent regional fishing interests. The rule would also make it tougher for the public to participate in the environmental assessment process required by the National Environmental Policy Act.