Righting the Wrongs of the Bush Years

EPA dumps Bush-era rule that allowed unfettered hazardous waste burning

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The Bush Years: Sounds like an afternoon special, right? Unfortunately it was a reality we remember all too well.

As President Bush prepared to leave office, his cronies at EPA pushed for a slew of bad rulemakings that favored polluters at the cost of public health and the environment. This came as no surprise back then, and Earthjustice and others did a wonderful job of fighting back and defeating many of these "midnight rulemakings," as they were often called.

One particularly egregious rule, known as the Emissions Comparable Fuels rule, allowed industries to burn up to 100,000 tons of hazardous waste without any federal hazardous waste protections.

With the stroke of a pen, what was once a dangerous waste was suddenly and magically transformed into "fuel" to be burned in any incinerator or boiler across the country with no limits on toxic air emissions. This was a rule that was being pushed by the American Chemistry Council and the National Association of Manufacturers as far back as 2005!

The worst part is that many communities where this hazardous waste was scheduled to be burned are already overburdened by toxic pollution from other nearby industries like oil and chemical refineries. But yesterday, the Obama EPA decided to dump this dastardly plan and start again, this time hopefully ensuring safeguards for public health and the environment.

You probably didn’t hear or read about this decision (one reporter I spoke with said it was too "inside baseball" for her to write about it) but for millions of Americans living near these facilities, this is great news. The environmental wrongs of the Bush administration are slowly but surely being righted by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. We hope she keeps up the good work for our health and environment. We’ll keep you posted about ways to comment on the proposal in the coming weeks.

Jared was the head coach of Earthjustice's advocacy campaign team from 2004 to 2014.