Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bush readies more deregulatory pollution moves; EPA accused of Fascism!?

As we struggle to cope with the aftermath of the ugly vote on the economic rescue package (while others labor to differentiate Sarah Palin from Tina Fey), we note that matters involving air pollution generally remain well off the front page. However, there are still a few items worth keeping an eye on.


In recent days, there has been much made of the ugly repercussions caused by deregulation in the financial world. So you’d think perhaps the word deregulation might be considered a dirty word. Not, apparently, within the Bush EPA.

We have learned that the EPA is planning to move forward with several key plans to relax pollution controls. The idea is to make it easier for electric power plants to burn coal. The result would be more dirty air in and around national parks and more global warming pollution. We are told that these moves are being demanded by Bush political appointees in DC.

In one instance, the EPA would relax requirements for power plants and other industries that seek to local near national parks and wilderness areas. Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) Government Reform Committee has blasted the proposal because it could degrade air quality. http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=2094

Despite this criticism, we are informed that Bush politicos want the rule made final. We are told it will go to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review shortly.

In a related matter, Bush appointees also want to proceed with a rule that would permit more coal burning by weakening new source review requirements. This big deregulatory move has been thrown into some confusion by the federal appeals court decision which struck down the so-called Clean Air Interstate Rule. (Under the cockeyed Bush EPA theory, CAIR would have been close enough for government work, thus permitting the added pollution caused by the weakening of new source review.) Despite the court decision, we have been told that Bush political appointees would still like to proceed with the NSR change. Waxman’s panel found that this rule change would cause more greenhouse gas emissions. http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=2137

It would be a scandal if the Bush administration moves ahead with this plan, given we now know that greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere more quickly than predicted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/25/AR2008092503989.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Of course, these aren’t the only pollution deregulatory moves waiting in the wings. Among other things, look also for additional changes to NSR aimed at helping the oil and other manufacturing industries, as well as a rule designed to promote more burning of hazardous waste. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?ruleID=287108


In light of these pending deregulatory moves, it is nothing short of astonishing to see the EPA accused of “Fascism” for contemplating future actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions. See, for example, at http://www.capmag.com/author.asp?ID=425

These denunciations appear in an online publication known as Capital Magazine, which is published by something called “Bahamas 2000 Ltd.” The magazine looks for financial support by stating “if you enjoy what you read feel free to piss off a communist and send a donation to support this website.” http://www.capmag.com/company/index.asp

Well, there you have it.

One of the co-authors of these jeremiads is a visiting associate professor of political science at Duke University. http://www.classicalideals.com/

One wonders whether there is some connection to the double-talking corporate Duke, or to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has issued its own florid denunciations of the EPA.


Finally, if you have understandably been distracted, an update on the new John McCain ads attacking Joe Biden over the coal issue.

As you may know, last week Biden was seen on youtube saying "No coal plants here in America" and "We're not supporting clean coal." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ55UzAsp6M

If you look at the whole clip, you will see that Biden seemed pretty reasonable to be concerned about dirty coal plants being built in China. A fraction of that deadly pollution does end up in the U.S., affecting breathers here (as well as making it more difficult to limit worldwide carbon emissions.) Biden did not note that much of the Chinese-burned coal is actually shipped there by the U.S.-based Peabody Energy.

But the McCain campaign quickly jumped on those comments to produce radio spots in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia touting “clean coal” (Which, of course, is a term subject to varying interpretations.)

Here's the Colorado script: ANNCR: Clean Coal is important to America. And to
Colorado. For Coloradoans, coal means thousands of jobs. Economic growth. More
affordable electricity. For America, coal means energy independence. And clean
coal means cleaner air. But Obama-Biden and their liberal allies oppose clean
Listen to Joe Biden. JOE BIDEN: "No coal plants here in America".
"We're not supporting clean coal". ANNCR: No coal plants in America? No jobs in
Colorado? No energy independence for America?
It's no surprise. After all,
Obama-Biden and their liberal allies opposed off-shore drilling. Congressional
liberals blocked off-shore drilling putting special interests, before our
Obama-Biden and their liberal allies. Too risky for our jobs, our
economic future. Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National
Committee. JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approved this message.

The McCain Campaign also rushed to set up a group called the Coalition to Protect Coal Jobs http://2008central.net/2008/09/23/mccain-press-conference-call-to-announce-coalition-to-protect-coal-jobs/

The Obama campaign has noted that McCain (known as a nuclear advocate) himself previously made comments suggesting he, too, wouldn’t cry if coal went away.

For example, at a 2000 hearing, he responded to a Sierra Club witness that “I would not disagree with you that in a perfect world we would like to transition away from coal entirely. But there is certainly, at least from my understanding, there is a dramatic difference in the effects of the so-called dirty coal in a broad variety of ways as opposed to the cleaner coal.” [Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Hearing On Reductions in Greenhouse Gases, 9/21/2000]"

Clean Air Watch, of course, is not involved in electoral politics.

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