Senate Democrats

The Failed Bush-Republican Environmental Record

President Bush and his Republican allies have done great damage to our environment and have failed to take the lead on confronting global warming. This Administration has sought to roll back environmental protections, spoiling our air and water and leaving our public lands vulnerable to ruin. The Administration’s ongoing failure of leadership on global warming has harmed efforts both here and around the world to curb the greenhouse gases that threaten our planet. The American people have rejected the Bush-Republican status quo and are looking for new leadership on these crucial issues. As the President marks his last Earth Day in office, the American people are looking to Congress and a new President to protect our environment and confront global warming.

Bush Administration tried to gut Clean Air Act, allow more mercury emissions:

Bush Administration Attempted to Gut the Clean Air Act with their ‘Clear Skies Initiative.’ Proposed in 2002, the President’s Clear Skies Initiative would have weakened many parts of the Clean Air Act and would have resulted in significantly fewer reductions of air pollutants than currently required. According to the Sierra Club, one of the main problems with Clear Skies is that it created a loophole exempting power plants from being held accountable to the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) standards and from being required to install cleanup technology. NSR standards require new power plants and upgraded plants to comply with modern federal emissions limits. In addition, measure sought to delay the enforcement of public health standards for smog and soot until the end of 2015. [Sierra Club: Clear Skies Proposal Weakens the Clean Air Act]

  • A Federal Court Blocked The Bush Administration From Implementing The Clear Skies Initiative.  A federal appeals court blocked the Bush administration from implementing Clear Skies, which would have eased clean air requirements for some 17,000 industrial facilities, including coal-fired power plants and oil refineries. The unanimous ruling by the three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a major victory for a coalition of 15 states and a long list of environmental and public health organizations who filed suit to block the August 2003 rule. “The court could not have told the EPA more clearly that they must follow the Clean Air Act as it is written, not as they wish it were written,” said Janice Nolen at the American Lung Association. “[It means] thousands of Americans will not have their lives cut short because of the pollution that would have blown through this huge loophole.” [ENS-Newswire, 3/20/06]

Bush Administration Changed Mercury Emissions Rules, Exempting Coal and Oil-Fired Power Plants From Regulation. “Under the Clinton administration, the agency adopted provisions in the Clean Air Act that required coal- and oil-fired power plants to control mercury emissions using ‘maximum achievable control technology.’ But the EPA modified those rules under the Bush administration by removing coal- and oil-fired power plants from the list of mercury sources whose emissions could be regulated. The agency also implemented a system for controlling mercury called ‘cap and trade,’ whereby some power plants could continue to emit the toxic pollutant while buying pollution credits from cleaner-burning plants.” [Great Falls Tribune, 2/9/08]

  • Federal Appeals Court Ruled Bush Administration Mercury Emissions Rules Were Illegal. “A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out Bush administration rules for controlling mercury emissions from power plants, saying that the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury emission limits and cap-and-trade rule are illegal.” [Great Falls Tribune, 2/9/08]

Bush Administration changed rules to undercut Clean Water Act:

Bush Administration Changed Rules to Undercut Clean Water Act. “The Bush administration opened the way today for a redefinition of federal rules that could remove obstacles to development on millions of acres of isolated wetlands historically protected under the Clean Water Act… The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers said the action would ‘clarify and reaffirm’ the agencies’ authority ‘over a vast majority of the nation’s wetlands.’ But critics, including leading environmental organizations, said the plan could reduce the scope of the Clean Water Act well beyond what the court required. Depending on the outcome of the rule-making process, they said, developers would no longer need to seek federal permits before filling in land on millions of acres of wetlands where their actions have until now been strictly regulated.” [New York Times, 1/11/03]

President Bush rolled back protections of public lands:

Bush Administration Tried to Use Rise in Forest Fires to Allow More Logging, Despite Being Contradicted by General Scientific Consensus. “The Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) is President Bush’s response to the past year’s forest fires. The initiative is based on the false assumption that landscape-wide logging will decrease forest fires. This premise is contradicted by the general scientific consensus, which has found that logging can increase fire risk. This disconnect between what the administration says and what science says about logging and fire reveals the administration’s true goal which is to use the forest fire issue to cut the public out of the public lands management decision making process and to give logging companies virtually free access to our National Forests.” [Sierra Club: Debunking the “Healthy Forests Initiative”]

President Bush Rolled Back ‘Roadless Rule,’ Opening National Forests to Road Construction. “The Bush administration on Thursday supplanted a Clinton-era rule banning road construction in nearly 60 million acres of national forest with a complex prescription for state-by state decisions on which areas should retain protections.” [New York Times, 5/6/05]

President Bush’s newly announced goal on greenhouse gaes is too little, too late:

President Bush Announced a Goal of Halting the Growth of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2025. “President George W. Bush on Wednesday called for halting the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, but drew quick criticism for offering few ideas on how to do so before his term ends next year.” [Reuters, 4/16/08]

  • But President’s Goal Is Far Below What the EU and UN IPCC Have Called For. “But his goal to stop growth of these emissions by 2025 is far below what the European Union has sought and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has outlined.” [Reuters, 4/16/08]
  • Head of the IPCC Said ‘If There’s No Action Before 2012, That’s Too Late.” “‘If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late,’ said Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who heads the IPCC. ‘What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.’” [New York Times, 11/17/07]

Bush Administration allowed energy industry to write energy policy:

Vice President Cheney Met Secretly With Oil and Gas Industry Executives To Formulate The Administration’s Energy Policy. The Sierra Club, an environmental group, and Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group, sued Cheney, contending that as head of the energy task force he had violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, which generally requires open meetings whenever outsiders offer advice to high government officials. During the litigation, Cheney refused to turn over documents detailing who met with his energy task force, and he has argued that the Constitution forbids private lawyers from asking for the information. [Los Angeles Times, 12/16/03]

  • Environmental Groups Complained Cheney Invited Them to Task Force Meetings “Just To Be Nice.” On April 4, 2001, representatives of 13 environmental groups were brought into the Old Executive Office Building for a long-anticipated meeting. Cheney was not there, but so many environmentalists were in the room that introductions took up “about half the meeting,” recalled Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth. Anna Aurilio of the U.S. Public Interest Group said, “It was clear to us that they were just being nice to us.” [Washington Post, 7/18/07]
  • Recently, Members of Cheney’s Energy Task Force Were Revealed. In July, it was reported that in fact the oil and gas industry played a prominent role in Cheney’s energy task force. The following link to the Washington Post, details all of the participants of the task force. [LINK]  
  • Cheney Did Not Believe There Was Consensus Global Warming Was Man-Made. In an interview to ABC News, Cheney said, “Where there does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that’s part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man.” [ABC News Transcripts, 2/23/07]

President Bush and Cheney Sought Input from Enron Officials on Energy Policy.  For instance, Enron representatives met six times with Vice President Cheney or his aides on the nation’s energy policy, including a discussion in mid-October just before the company’s sudden collapse. In a letter to Congress, vice presidential counsel David Addington disclosed the number of meetings between the Bush White House and the former energy giant whose CEO, Ken Lay, has been among President Bush’s top political supporters. One of the meetings between Lay and Cheney occurred on April 17 to discuss “energy policy matters, including the energy crisis in California.” The day after meeting with Lay, Cheney said the Bush administration would not support price caps on wholesale energy sales in California. [AP, 1/8/02; New York Times, 1/26/02]

On President Bush’s watch, nation’s environment has deteriorated:

Environmental Quality Has Deteriorated Under Bush Presidency.  “Over the past 30 years, the nation’s air and water have become dramatically cleaner, but the steady improvement has stalled or gone into reverse in several areas since Bush took office, according to government statistics. On Bush’s watch, America’s environment deteriorated in many critical areas – including the quality of air in cities and the quality of water that people drink – and gained in very few. Knight Ridder compiled 14 pollution-oriented indicators from government and university statistics. Nine of the 14 indicators showed a worsening trend, two showed improvements and three others zigzagged.” [Knight-Ridder, 10/13/04]

  • Environmental Statistics Show Terrible Stewardship During Bush’s 1st Term. “Statistics that have worsened: Superfund cleanups of toxic waste fell by 52 percent. Fish-consumption warnings for rivers doubled. Fish-consumption advisories for lakes increased 39 percent. The number of beach closings rose 26 percent. Civil citations issued to polluters fell 57 percent. Criminal pollution prosecutions dropped 17 percent. Asthma attacks increased by 6 percent. There were small increases in global temperatures and unhealthy air days.” [Knight-Ridder, 10/13/04]

Air Quality Decreased Markedly under President Bush. “But at the same time, the number of times that air in U.S. cities was declared unhealthy increased from 1,535 in 2000 to 1,656 in 2001 and 2,035 in 2002. And the EPA’s inspector general issued a report last month saying that national air-emission reductions don’t accurately reflect the stagnating pollution levels in metropolitan areas.” [Knight-Ridder, 10/13/04]

Bush’s Global Warming Proposal Is Too Little, Too late. “President Bush is set to announce later today a set of ‘realistic’ goals for curbing global warming emissions—perhaps as little as merely stopping the growth of emissions by 2025.  Scientists tell us that we need to cut total emissions at least 15-20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming.  Merely halting the growth of emissions is grossly insufficient.” [Sierra Club Press Release, 4/16/08]

Americans oppose President’s handing of the environment, believe U.S. should be more aggressive in protecting the environment:

52 Percent of Americans Disapproved of President Bush’s Handling of the Environment. An Associated Press-Stanford University poll conducted September 21 to 23 2007, 52 percent of Americans disapproved of President Bush’s handling of the environment, while just 20 percent approved. The same poll found that 72 percent of Americans believed President Bush’s policies of the preceding year had helped the environment a little or not at all. [AP-Stanford Poll, 9/21-23/07]

61 Percent of Americans Said the Effects of Global Warming Have Already Begun.  “Slightly less than half of Americans in 1997 said the effects of global warming had already begun to happen. That number has risen, particularly in the past two years, to the point where today 61% say the effects have already begun to happen at this point in time. About one out of four Americans, however, continue to say the effects of global warming will not happen in their lifetimes, if ever.” [Gallup Poll, 4/21/08]

Gallup Poll Found 60 Percent of U.S. Favors More Conservation Over More Energy Production. “What approach do Americans think the United States should follow right now to solve the nation’s energy problems? By a margin of 61% to 29%, Americans favor emphasizing more consumer conservation of existing energy supplies, rather than emphasizing the production of more oil, gas, and coal supplies. This is down from the 64% to 26% margin of a year ago. Still, despite their fears of a future energy shortage and in the face of record gas prices, Americans continue to favor a conservation approach by a margin similar to that seen in most Gallup Polls since 2001.” [Gallup Poll, 3/26/08]

More Americans Believe Protecting the Environment Should Trump Economic Growth. “Nearly half of Americans say protecting the U.S. environment should trump economic growth, a poll indicated. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed told the Gallup organizations they believe protection of the environment should take priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth, while 42 percent said economic growth should take precedence.” [Gallup Poll;United Press International, 3/27/08

Poll Found a Majority of Americans Have Made Changes to Protect Environment. “A majority (55%) of Americans say they have made minor changes in their lives to protect the environment, and 28% say they have made major changes…Among most major demographic subgroups, roughly 8 in 10 say they have made at least minor changes in their way of living to help the environment. There are some variations in the percentages of different subgroups who report making ‘major changes,’ however.” [Gallup Poll, 4/18/08]