Well, you can imagine Angelo, an oilman, was not happy about this sucker. In fact, he informed Rove, the rule was causing many in the oil industry "to openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity."
Rove forwarded the note to the White House environmental advisers, demanding a "response ASAP." So the rule finally took effect this month, but after intense industry pressure, court battles and behind-the-scenes lobbying at the agency and in Congress, it's more hole than rule. And guess what? It has no teeth in it.
Yep, Ernie and oil industry got what they wanted: the end of the Clinton-era proposal to require special EPA permits for construction sites smaller than 5 acres as a way to keep groundwater clean. Imagine the immense burden that would put on the oil companies. Really, unless the Bush administration took this kind of special care, Exxon might suffer a drop in profits.
Next, we find the EPA has decided not to release information on 140 Superfund sites -- these are toxic waste sites that present risk of exposure to those nearby, as the exposure remains uncontrolled. You might, if you hadn't been paying attention, assume information collected by the government and paid for by the citizens would be, uh, public.
"This isn't a question of left or right," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "This is a question of right and wrong." According to the Los Angeles Times, "The EPA said that it had blocked only information related to law enforcement and that the public had access to all relevant health-risk data for the sites."
That's the kind of sentence reporters write with a straight face. Actually, what the EPA is keeping secret is how much money and time it will take to clean up the Superfund sites. Why? "Republicans said Democrats want to manufacture a political issue, and noted that Senate tradition had long prevented the release of sensitive information," said the Times. What political issue? The reinstatement of a "controversial tax" -- i.e., the Superfund tax on chemical, oil and other polluting companies.
In case you haven't been following this, the Superfund is broke and has been largely inactive for four years. The fund was allowed to run dry when Congress failed to renew the tax on polluters. You may not believe this, but the oil and chemical companies complained mightily about being asked to pay for the cleanup of messes they had created. What a concept.
Other environmental controversies continue to simmer all the time -- out of sight, out of mind. Just one more regulation chopped here, just one more law changed there, just a little information hidden.
But do be sure to give Bush credit for declaring the already protected Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument. That's a good thing. Is there an election any time soon?
© Creators Syndicate
Comments? Send a letter to the editor.
June 23, 2006 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
All Rights Reserved.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.