We haven’t gotten much good news out of the Environmental Protection Agency for eight years, but suddenly the news is huge... so big that it deserves an exclamation mark. Bear with me as I wend my way towards the punch line.
The Latest On: Bush administration
"Toxic emissions" sounds like a precocious 10-year-old's euphemism for cattle reek, but that's how the term is applied in last week's press release on factory farm exemptions. Presumably because he wanted to go out on a wafting cloud of the odor, Bush tried to make it easier for factory farms to release unsafe levels of these emissions into neighboring communities without notification.
I joined Tuesday's huge crowd in Washington to witness the inauguration of our 44th President. The people who traveled from all over the country had worked to elect Barack Obama and create a community of hope, optimism, and readiness to tackle the challenges, and that spirit pervaded the Mall.
Jan. 20 marked the dawn of a new day in Washington. We hope it means a clear break from the past eight years of drilling, logging, and ignoring science. So now all us enviro lawyers can retire or get real jobs because President Obama - enjoy those two words together - is going to take care of everything ... right?
Well ... probably not. The next four years will likely be as busy as the last four for conservationists. Here's a sampling of reasons.
Earthjustice press secretary Raviya Ismail was at today’s (Jan. 12) U.S. Supreme Court hearing on whether the Clean Water Act allows Coeur Alaska’s Kensington Mine to fill Lower Slate Lake in Alaska with mining waste – killing all aquatic life. Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo argued to protect the lake. The high court decision, expected by June, could determine whether waterways throughout the nation may be likewise filled and killed. Here is Raviya’s report:
With the end of the Bush Administration, the President's faithful servants are putting a smiley face on their "accomplishments."
Before we look at the praises the Interior Department sang of itself, let's do our own quick review, starting with the out-and-out sleaze.
On this coming Monday - while the media are riveted by the upcoming inauguration - the fate of our nation’s waters will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court will hear arguments in an Earthjustice case that has implications for rivers, lakes, and streams across the country.
The case concerns a gold mine north of Juneau, Alaska. The Army Corps of Engineers granted a permit for the mine to Coeur Alaska. One provision of the permit allows Coeur to deposit its mine tailings into Lower Slate Lake after raising the level of the lake by building a long earthen dam.
Maybe it's a good thing that Bush has kept Earthjustice so busy these last eight years, fending off unrelenting assaults on the environment. The experience is proving invaluable as we face, in these final weeks of the administration, a frantic effort to roll back some of the nation's most significant protections. We also are encountering a barrage of last-minute attempts to convert America's wild, public treasures into private, commercial commodities.
Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors, the scathing send-up of the Clinton years) gives President Bush quite a valedictory send-off today in the pages of TIME magazine.
Besides distaste for President Bush's "intellectual laziness," Klein lists a number of environmental actions that could be taken now in the final weeks of the Bush administration. Sadly, none of these are expected to happen.
It appears that Compassionate Conservatism, the muddled sound bite that was supposed to guide activities early in the reign of George II, has made a comeback, at least insofar as it applies to killers of wildlife.