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General Topic Areas

National Parks (8)
Public land use (12)
Air pollution (28)
Water pollution (24)
Public health (10)
Wetlands (6)
Wildlife protection (12)
Corruption
Forest policy (10)
Global warming (6)
Corporate welfare (3)
Shorelines and oceans (5)
Appointments and resignations (5)
Endangered species (9)
Toxic waste (3)
Environmental enforcement (8)
Outsourcing and privatization (5)
Politicization and deception (11)
Superfund sites and clean-up (4)

Corporate Interests

Energy industry (16)
Oil and gas industry (8)
Automobile industry (2)
Mining industry (4)
Timber industry (19)
Agribusiness (9)
Cattle Industry (5)
Snowmobile Industry (3)
Coal Industry (2)
Factory farms (4)

Specific Pollutants

Mercury (3)
MTBE (1)
Methyl Bromide (3)
Formaldehyde (5)
Lead (1)
Atrazine (1)

Specific Issues and Cases

Snowmobile regulation (5)
Roadless Rule (6)
Mountaintop Mining (2)
Klamath Basin Fish Kill (4)
Mining in the Cabinet Mountains (1)
Formaldehyde Rule (7)
Outsourcing CAT (7)
New Source Review (3)
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (1)
Round Up power plant (1)
Clear Skies (3)
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The Bush administration's environmental record

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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(Between 2001 and 2002)

       The Bush administration pressures the Forest Service's Content Analysis Team (CAT) to stop accepting form letters. CAT's job is to review comment letters from the public and produce summary reports on public opinion for policy decision-makers. [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration
          

July 16, 2001

       A study conducted by the General Accounting Office (GAO) finds that the scientists and experts who sit on the Science Advisory Board panels which advise the EPA often have ties to the affected industries or other conflicts of interest. The study, requested by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), says that EPA officials regularly fail to identify potential conflicts of interest when panel members are chosen and do not adequately disclose the existence of such conflicts to the public. Though it is prohibited for a federal employee to participate in any “particular matter” that could affect their financial interests, there is an exemption that permits special government employees to serve on advisory panels when the topic being studied directly affects the financial interests of their employer—as long as the employer is not “singularly affected.” [The Washington Post, 7/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Waxman, General Accounting Office
          

Early 2002

       Michele Merkel, a staff attorney in the EPA's enforcement division whose specialty is in the area of factory farming, resigns because of the administration's reluctance to enforce federal regulatory laws and because she believes the livestock industry has too much influence on EPA oversight of factory farms. [Grist Magazine, 5/24/2004; Los Angeles Times, 6/3/2002; Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004] “Once the Bush team came in, I was not allowed to pursue any further air lawsuits against CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations],” she tells Muckraker. “We got political cover to continue what was underway, but I was told that new efforts were off-limits. It wasn't just coming from my EPA superiors, it was coming from the White House.” [Grist Magazine, 5/24/2004] “Ultimately what drove me out of the agency was the anti-enforcement philosophy of the current administration,” Merkel tells the Los Angeles Times. [Los Angeles Times, 6/3/2002]
People and organizations involved: Michele Merkel, Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

2002

       The Environmental Protection Agency inflates its enforcement record by including counterterrorism and narcotics cases led by other agencies. The padded numbers obscure an actual decline in the EPA's enforcement activity. For example, the agency lumps 190 counterterrorism-related investigations into its annual performance report to Congress, referring to them as EPA-initiated “criminal investigations.” Sometimes an “investigation” involves nothing more than a phone call to an FBI agent who has requested assistance in a case. “I called the FBI and said, ‘If you need us, give us a call.’ That warranted a (criminal) case number. There was no investigation,” one EPA agent will explain to the Sacramento Bee. In another incident, two agents “went out on an interview, and they closed it after the interview.” The EPA counted the visit as a completed investigation. “To me, those are false statistics,” another senior agent tells the newspaper. The resulting numbers, which are reported to Congress and the public, mask “a significant drop-off in the federal government's pursuit of criminal polluters during the past two years.” [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Sacramento Bee, 7/16/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Congress, Environmental Protection Agency
          

(Early 2003)

       Randy Waite of the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning says in an email to representatives of the meat industry, “We need to start getting across the idea that farms are going to continue to be vulnerable to citizen suits and this data will go a long way in helping us, in partnership, to find solutions to some of those issues, making them less vulnerable in the long run.” The Chicago Tribune, which obtained a copy of the email along with several other documents through the Freedom of Information Act, notes that Waite sounds almost as though he considers himself a partner with the industry his agency is supposed to be regulating, “arrayed against, for example, citizens who want to file lawsuits.” [Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Randy Waite
          

March 2003

       Forest Service officials inform employees of the agency's Content Analysis Team (CAT) that the work they are doing will be outsourced to the private sector. The management team will remain, but the content analysis work will be farmed out to contract consultants. This decision is made despite the department's reputation for remarkable efficiency. In October 2002, a study commissioned by Yosemite National Park had praised CAT saying it had a “track record ... [un]equaled by any other organized process.” (see October 2002). A study three months later will conclude that outsourcing will actually cost the agency more (see June 2004). [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Missoulian, 11/15/2003; Associated Press, 11/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Forest Service (USFS), Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration
          

February 12, 2004

       The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctions off oil and gas leases for 14 parcels of federal land located near Dinosaur Monument in Colorado and Utah. The leases—totaling some 5,000 acres—include areas that were previously identified by the agency as having wilderness quality but which lost their protected status as part of a settlement between the state of Utah and the BLM (see April 11, 2003). A number of the leases—some selling for as little as $5 per acre—are purchased by contributors to President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/2004; The Washington Post, 3/1/2004] According to the Environmental Working Group, the area includes seven Mexican spotted owl habitats, 12 golden eagle habitats and four peregrine falcon habitats. [The Washington Post, 3/1/2004; Environmental Working Group, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Kathleen Clarke
          

(May 2004)

       Sylvia Lowrance, the former deputy administrator for enforcement at the EPA, tells the Chicago Tribune that while at the EPA her office had been instructed not to pursue any more pollution cases against farms without the approval of the senior political appointees in the EPA. “That's unprecedented in EPA,” she says. [Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Sylvia Lowrance
          


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