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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 (8)
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
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)

       Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey's office orders employees of the Forest Service's Content Analysis Team (CAT) to downplay the public's feelings towards the Roadless Rule in a report the team is preparing for policy decision-makers. The office also instructs them not to mention how many people have sent in comments on the issue. A memo is later distributed to the team's employees setting the limits on what they are permitted to say in the report. It instructs them to “avoid any emphasis on conflict or opposition and also avoid any appearance of measuring the ‘ote’ highlighting areas of conflict [because it] serves no good purpose in dealing with the issues or interests, and may only exacerbate the problems.” The memo even provides explicit instructions on what words the CAT team can and cannot use. Among the list of banned terms are: many, most, oppose, support, impacts and clear cuts. Words that the memo suggests using instead include: some, state, comment, effects and even-aged management. [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS), Content Analysis Team (CAT), Mark E. Rey
          

(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
          

October 2002

       Newfields International, an environmental consulting firm, completes a study comparing several different content-analysis techniques used by government agencies and private contractors. The study, commissioned by Yosemite National Park, finds that the Forest Service's Content Analysis Team (CAT) is using the most cost-effective, high-quality system available, explaining that the team has a “track record (that) is not equaled by any other organized process.” CAT is in charge of reviewing comment letters from the public and producing summary reports for policy decision-makers. Two months later the Bush administration will announce that the program will be reviewed for possible outsourcing to private contractors (see December 2002). [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), US Forest Service (USFS), Bush administration, Newfields International, Yosemite National Park
          

December 2002

       Forest Service officials inform employees working for the agency's Content Analysis Team (CAT) that their jobs are being reviewed for possible outsourcing to the private sector. The employees are assured that the review would make them “a shining example for the rest of the agency of how successful federal employees can be.” Months later, CAT will undergo “direct conversion” instead, and all but the team's top managers will lose their jobs to private sector outsourcing (see March 2003). [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Content Analysis Team (CAT)
          

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
          

(Between August 2003 and Early 2004)

       The Forest Service outsources the work of 47 agency employees of the Content Analysis Team (CAT) to private consulting companies, despite an August 2002 independent study praising the team for its efficiency (see October 2002) and a June 2003 internal analysis concluding that outsourcing would increase the Forest Service's costs (see June 2004). [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Missoulian, 11/15/2003; Associated Press, 11/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration
          

June 2004

       The Forest Service conducts an internal analysis which concludes that outsourcing the work of its Content Analysis Team (CAT) (see March 2003) will not save US taxpayers any money. In fact, the study estimates that hiring private consultants would cost approximately $425,000 more than keeping the work in-house. [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Associated Press, 11/14/2003; Missoulian, 11/15/2003] No study is conducted to determine whether outside consultants could do the work better than the Forest Service's experts. [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)
          


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