From BushGreenwatch from September 23 to October 28, 2004 See BushGreenwatch link
The EPA has filed only 36 civil lawsuits for violations of the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and other environmental acts in first three years of Bush administration compared to 152 filed by the EPA in last three years of Clinton administration.
EPA enforcement told to set aside investigations against more than 70 power companies in November, 2003.
EPA has been ordered to halt investigations of industrial scale "factory farms" that house thousands of animals.
National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, a political appointee, has reinterpreted 1866 Mining Law to open long-abandoned trails and roads. In Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park, this could lead to opening 3000 miles of roads and routes to old minng claims.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton has re-opened Yellowstone National Park to snowmobiles. Rules against off-road vehicles fhave been loosened at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas and Assateague National Seashore, MD.
Secretary Norton has withdrawn the Interior Department's opposition to a new power plant near Yellowstone and reversed federal opposition to coal-fired plants outside boundaries of Denali National Park in Alaska.
Generally, there are "severe shortages" of funds and staff in the national parks.
The United States is alone among Canada, Mexico and the US in refusing to stop the use of lindane, a dangerous pesticide and neurotoxin. Canada and Mexico have agreed to phase it out. During trinational Meetins in october held as part of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America established by NAFTA, Mexican representatives promised to completely phase out agricultural, veterinary and pharmaceutical use of lindane, Canada plans to stop agricultural uses by the end of the year. Seventeen other nations have already banned this.
Sewage that hasn´t been properly treated would be released into US waterways on rainy or snowy days under an administration proposal that soon may become final. Under the Clean Water Act, it is illegal to mix largely untreated sewage with fully treated wastewater (a process known as "blending") prior to releasing it -- except in dire emergencies, such as hurricanes, said Nancy Stoner, director of the Clean Water Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"Current law allows this only when there are no feasible alternatives," she told BushGreenwatch. "This proposal would make it routine, and that's unacceptable." Typically, sewage goes through three types of treatment before it is discharged into the water system. First, solids are removed. Then, the sewage is treated for the removal of viruses, parasites and nutrient pollution, which can reduce the oxygen level in water. Last, the sewage is disinfected to remove bacteria. In "blending," the second phase of treatment is skipped, which makes the third phase far less effective as well, said Stoner.
NRDC tests found a 1,000-times greater likelihood that people would become ill with gastrointestinal problems from swimming near blended sewage than they would from swimming near fully treated sewage releases, said Stoner.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal would allow "blending" practices anytime it rained, as well as during snow melts. According to Clean Water Action, the proposal is the administration's answer to "insufficient maintenance of aging sewer systems."  The administration has also proposed substantial budget cuts to a fund that provides assistance to states to maintain aging sewer systems.
The Clean Water Action website emphasizes that releasing blended sewage into the nation's waterways can have serious public health consequences. Sewage spillovers resulting from heavy rainfall preceded "more than half of U.S. waterborne disease outbreaks in the past 50 years," the website notes. "The Centers for Disease Control estimates 7.1 million annual cases of mild to moderate and 560,000 cases of moderate to severe infectious waterborne diseases."
"Sewage in our waterways closes beaches, kills fish, shuts down shellfish beds, and causes gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses," the website notes. "In 2000 alone, sewage contamination caused or contributed to over 2,000 beach closings and advisories."
More than 100,000 comments have been submitted to the EPA in opposition to its proposal. While the public comment period is now closed, the agency has not yet published its final rule.
September 23, 2004 | Back Issues
Critics Say Proposed Senate Chemical Bill Leaves U.S. Vulnerable to Attack
Sometime in the next few weeks, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up, for the first time, the issue of how to protect Americans from terrorist attacks on domestic chemical plants. But environmental groups and unions worry that the main piece of legislation under consideration will provide no real security for chemical plants and is motivated by pre-election politics.
"Senate Republicans are working to sneak an industry-friendly, do-nothing bill through the Senate to give President Bush a greenwash feather in his cap before the election," said Rick Hind, legislative director for the toxics campaign at Greenpeace.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are more than 100 chemical facilities in the U.S. that would each put at least one million people at risk were they to come under attack. The agency estimates that more than 750 facilities in the U.S. place at least 100,000 people at risk from chemical releases. Numerous studies reveal substantial security gaps at many of these facilities. 
Three years ago, Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) introduced legislation to create federal standards to reduce security risks at chemical facilities; promote cost-effective, safe technologies at high-priority chemical plants; and require government oversight to ensure compliance with the new regulations. The Corzine bill also works within the framework set out by President Bush's Homeland Security plan, calling for the Department of Homeland Security to work with the EPA in developing a strategy to reduce the vulnerability of chemical and hazardous materials stores. 
After heated bipartisan negotiations and major revisions, the Corzine bill won unanimous support in the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in July 2002.
However, shortly after he voted for the bill in committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) joined the American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute and others in opposition to it. The following year, Inhofe (chair of the EPW Committee) introduced his own chemical security bill, which was substituted for the Corzine bill in a close party-line vote.
"Senator Inhofe's legislation is currently unenforceable. The Senate needs to ensure the American public that chemical security legislation will create change at chemical facilities. Enforcing the use of safer chemicals is the commonsense way to get this done," Megan Purvis, environmental health advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) told BushGreenwatch.
Inhofe's bill contains no plans for developing safer technologies. It contains loopholes that allow the chemical industry's voluntary security programs to win government endorsement and substitute for new regulations; fails to require government verification of compliance with security regulations; and leaves out the EPA as a partner in writing and enforcing those regulations.
Inhofe's bill could reach the Senate floor anytime before the October 8th recess. Senators offering a chemical security bill, based on the Corzine proposal are expected to challenge Inhofe's proposal.
Go to U.S. PIRG's website to write your senator.
 Senator Corzine's website.