12 Man-Made Disasters

"I’m just not sure [these scientists] are the only people we should listen to with regard to that subject."

—Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, responding to the findings of a study by 300 scientists that found that the Arctic is heating up 10 times faster than anywhere else on Earth.

In the past year, the Bush administration, through various agencies and allies in Congress, has:

1. Denied, through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), safety and environmental information to residents near 30 proposed liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) terminals, and refused states’ authority in siting those terminals. In January of 2004, an LNG terminal exploded in Algeria, killing 30 people.

2. Hatched a plan by the Marine and Fisheries Service to reduce by 80 percent the critical habitat of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. The proposal’s architect is Mark Rutzick, a former timber-industry lawyer and lobbyist who once sued the government over protecting salmon habitat.

3. Authorized a regulatory change allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve new pesticides without consulting the wildlife service regarding risks to wildlife.

4. Relaxed restrictions on international trade in endangered species to allow U.S. trophy hunters and wildlife traders to import more endangered species and body parts like horns, antlers and skins.

5. Designed an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act to require, among other things, commercial interests to be measured against the value of habitat protection.

6. Fired a wildlife-service biologist who publicly complained that the EPA had manipulated scientific research to appease developers eyeing the critical habitat of the endangered Florida panther.

7. Laid plans to revoke roadless protections for certain wilderness areas, including the Los Padres National Forest.

8. Opened 300,000 acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest roadless areas to development.

9. Proposed a revision of the Clean Air Act that would allow a seven-fold increase in mercury emissions and extend, in some cases indefinitely, the time polluters would have to reduce their emissions to the new standard.

10. Denied environmentalists’ demands for more-restrictive government regulations over copper smelters’ toxic lead and arsenic emissions.

11. Created a "clean coal" technology program called "FutureGen" and then failed to fund it.

12. Continued to fill the EPA, the FDA, and other agencies and panels devoted to the protection of public health with representatives from the oil, pesticide and pharmaceutical industries.


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