BUSH AND THE ENVIRONMENT….Yesterday in the LA Times:

The Bush administration has dropped enforcement actions against dozens of coal-fired power plants that were under investigation for violating the Clean Air Act and allegedly spewing thousands of tons of illegal pollution into the air, EPA officials said Wednesday.

Today in the LA Times:

Bush administration officials have drafted a rule that would significantly narrow the scope of the Clean Water Act, stripping many wetlands and streams of federal pollution controls and making them available to being filled for commercial development.

….State and federal officials have estimated that up to…20% of the wetlands outside of Alaska could lose protection under a new rule like the one in the draft.

You know, I’m open to the idea that stringent new environmental rules ought to get a pretty careful look ? maybe we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns, after all. And I’m downright enthusiastic about trying out new market-based techniques like pollution credits trading.

But gutting the current rules is a whole different matter. George Bush himself touts improvements in air quality caused by the Clean Air Act, but now seems to think that enforcing it is no longer necessary. Ditto for the Clean Water Act, which Bush is treating as just another opportunity for a bit of corporate looting by his big campaign contributors. No wonder Christie Whitman finally couldn’t stomach it any longer.

A few weeks ago Gregg Easterbrook wrote an op-ed for the LA Times claiming that Bush hadn’t really rolled back any environmental rules at all and then magically granted him serious environmental mojo for some new rules on diesel emissions ? while failing to note that these were actually Clinton-era rules and Bush merely agreed not to overturn them.

In light of the latest news, care to revise your opinion that Bush’s environmental record isn’t really that bad, Gregg?

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