The Bush administration is expected today to finalize changes to the Clean Air Act program known as New Source Review that will substantially weaken air quality protection throughout the nation. The changes will allow older electric power plants and oil refineries to avoid legal requirements to install new pollution controls, and would even allow older plants to increase, not decrease, their polluting emissions, threatening the health of thousands of families across the country.
“One of big industry’s dreams is coming true today because the Bush administration would rather grant political favors to its corporate contributors than fight for the health of this nation’s environment and people,” said Maria Weidner, policy analyst for Earthjustice’s White House Watch program. “Washington DC has become a Disneyland for big polluters, except here they wish upon a Bush, not a star.”
According to Earthjustice, two industrial sectors with much to gain from today’s action to weaken clean air protections were big contributors to the Bush-Cheney campaign and the Republican National Committee: coal burning utilities and the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas interests contributed $17 million to Bush-Cheney and the RNC, while coal burning utilities currently charged with violating New Source Review enforcement requirements contributed an additional $2 million. Among the most generous contributors are:
- FirstEnergy Corp., a major electric utility with subsidiaries involved in ongoing New Source Review enforcement actions, gave $705,516 to the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC in 1999, as well as $100,000 to the Bush Inaugural Fund. FirstEnergy President and chair Anthony Alexander was also a Bush Pioneer, promising to raise at least $100,000 for the presidential campaign.
- BPAmoco, Conoco, and ExxonMobil Corp., all oil companies with refining interests, gave a combined total of $744,703 to the Bush campaign and the RNC. In addition, BP Amoco and Exxon Mobil each contributed $100,000 to the Bush Inaugural Fund while Conoco gave $105,000.
“This is another reminder that under the Bush administration, America’s environment and public health are on the auction block,” Weidner concluded.
These campaign contributions are further detailed in a recent report released by Earthjustice and Public Campaign, Paybacks: How the Bush Administration is Giving Away Our Environment to Its Corporate Contributors. The report also observes that EPA’s air chief, Bush appointee Jeff Holmstead, was partner in a law firm that represented a coalition of utilities known as the Alliance for Constructive Air Policy, several members of which were the subject of at least one (and sometimes several) New Source Review enforcement actions, including American Electric Power, one of the largest — and dirtiest — power distributors in the nation.
For a full copy of the Paybacks report, click here.