Friday, December 08, 2006

Update on dirty dealing at EPA: Boxer to throw a punch, and more...

We understand that Senator Barbara Boxer, the incoming chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is planning to explore the Bush administration’s dirty deal to interject more politics into the process of setting clean air standards.

We look forward to her scrutiny of this situation. Congressman Henry Waxman issued a critical statement on this yesterday afternoon, following the near-incoherent EPA presentation. (It is pretty tough to spin such a vile action.) We hope she will look into the role of Bush EPA political appointee Brian Mannix, husband of Susan Dudley, whose nomination as chief OMB regulatory czar is now in limbo.

This dirty deal was cooked up by the oil industry. It will politicize the process for setting clean air standards. It is meant to weaken the influence of EPA career experts and that of EPA’s independent scientists, and give industry (and its friends at OMB) more clout to block effective standards.

As the California Air Resources Board noted earlier, it could mean weaker public health standards in the future.

Be prepared for another Friday afternoon outrage from EPA: This one involves toxic pollution standards for mercury spewing from cement plants. It is possible to significantly reduce mercury by scrubbing it. If EPA doesn’t require this (and recall that the cement lobby was visiting with the White House on this just last week ), this will be another special interest deal by the Bush administration.

And one more in the pipeline: Note that the chemical industry went to the White House this week, apparently to plead for weak toxic pollution standards

Usually people from EPA are invited to such meetings, at least to listen to what the industry whiners are telling OMB. No one from EPA is recorded to have been present in this case – perhaps a sign that EPA has become such a creature of the White House that it is now viewed as irrelevant.

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