Report Documents Bush Administration's Accelerated Assault on America's Environment

NRDC Details How White House "Rewriting Rules" for Industry

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2004) - In its third annual assessment of Bush administration environmental policies, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) documents more than 150 destructive policy actions over the past year, describing a historic assault on the nation's environmental safeguards that has only accelerated through the course of the Bush presidency. "Rewriting the Rules: The Bush Administration's Assault on the Environment -- 2004" catalogues the administration's environmental assaults since January 2003. The report describes recent regulatory changes that undermine landmark protections for our air, water, wildlife, forests, parks and public health. In addition, the report profiles new evidence of industry's direct role in crafting the administration's most controversial policy proposals.

"America's environmental laws have succeeded in improving and protecting our air, water, lands and quality of life. Today, it is clearer than ever that these laws now face a fundamental threat more sweeping and dangerous than any since the dawn of the modern environmental movement," said NRDC senior attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

After years of steady improvement, data indicate that the nation's water and air pollution are getting worse under President Bush's tenure. According to the report, sewage contamination is now a major problem in lakes, rivers and beaches around the nation, yet the administration has moved to weaken Clean Water Act safeguards addressing the problem. Anglers in most parts of the country are confronted with health warnings not to eat locally caught fish due to mercury contamination, yet the administration is trying to dilute and delay mercury pollution standards for coal-fired power plants. Across the West, natural treasures belonging to all Americans are being handed over to logging, mining and energy companies, while public input and environmental review are circumvented to speed the process.

A few more of the administration's most troubling actions include:

  • Granting special exemptions to allow the injection of sewage into deep wells in Florida, despite the government's own studies that show that pollution could contaminate drinking water supplies.

  • Loosening restrictions on the release of inadequately treated sewage into waterways while shelving long-standing proposals to reduce sewage spills that every year contaminate beaches and coastal waters with bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter.

  • Cutting a sweetheart legal deal behind closed doors with the state of Utah that threatens to open millions of acres of wilderness-quality public lands to drilling, mining, road building, and other developments.

  • Rejecting tough new mercury standards in favor of a plan that would allow nearly seven times as much mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants for nearly 20 more years.

  • Easing environmental safeguards and public participation requirements to promote logging in national forests and oil and gas drilling on pristine public lands.

"With the blessing of the White House, federal environmental policy has been hijacked by the least responsible industry interests," added Gregory Wetstone, NRDC's director of advocacy. "The environmental excesses documented in the report reflect a system under siege."

"Rewriting the Rules" is available here. For the full Bush administration environmental record to date, click here.