- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
In the Democrats weekly radio response aired two days after Thanksgiving, Jeffords — who campaigned for George W. Bush but baled on the GOP in 2001 after long-standing disagreements with the Republican party — lambasted the administration for “leading us backward instead of leading us forward” on environmental issues. Jeffords, (whose chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ends this month), contends that “devastating” new air regulations will gut clean air laws, allowing power plants to avoid installing simple anti-pollution equipment when they modernize.
The Bush administration announced plans last fall to ease clean air regulations so that aging factories, refineries and power plants could perform upgrades without the need for expensive new anti-pollution equipment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Whitman has said the administration’s move would allow for emission reductions by providing needed flexibility to these facilities when they modernize equipment. Jeffords, Democrats and environmentalists have countered that the administration was sacrificing environmental protection to special interests. (For more energy-sector news, see PE’s annual career survey feature and global warming sidebar.)
Jeffords also blasted the administration’s new plans to allow oil and gas drilling on national lands. He also took issue with the White House’s handling of:
• Clean water laws. “For example, they have delayed implementation of a rule to reduce sewage in our waterways. In America today, 300,000 miles of rivers and shorelines and 5 million acres of lakes remain polluted. Over 40 percent of our lakes, rivers, and streams are too dirty for fishing or swimming. These problems need to be addressed, not ignored or made worse.”
• The Superfund program. “One in four Americans live within four miles of a toxic waste site. Unfortunately, when it comes to Superfund, this Administration’s attitude has been underfund, and we’re all paying the price, because the number of sites being cleaned up is half of what it was before.”
• The new Homeland Security law. “There is a provision that will make it more difficult for the public to get information about dangerous chemicals that may exist near their homes. The Administration has curtailed public access to that information which has been available to us for years.”