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Key Events

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Global warming
Wildlife protection
Corporate welfare
Public health
Air pollution
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Methyl Bromide
MTBE
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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
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The Bush administration's environmental record: Corporate welfare

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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July 17, 2003

       The EPA announces that its budget of $277 million will allow it to begin clean-up work at only 10 of the 20 newly proposed Superfund sites. The agency selected the 10 sites based on their potential for economic redevelopment and their risk to human health. The reason for the funding shortfall is related to the lapsing of a polluter fee in 1995, which shifted the burden of clean-ups away from corporate polluters to taxpayers. The Bush administration has made no effort to push Congress to reinstate the “polluter pays” fee. [EPA, 7/17/2003; Associated Press, 7/17/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

November 14, 2003

       After 71 days of negotiations, Congressional Republicans announce that they have agreed on an energy bill that would provide some $20 billion in tax breaks for power companies. [New York Times, 11/15/2003; Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003] President Bush voices his support for the bill—drafted mostly by Republicans—which he says will make the US “safer and stronger” by helping to “keep the lights on, the furnaces lit, and the factories running.” He also states, “By making America less reliant on foreign sources of energy, we also will make our nation more secure.” [White House, 11/14/2003; New York Times, 11/15/2003] To facilitate the bill's passage through Congress, “negotiators sprinkled in dozens of sweeteners sought by states and congressional districts,” including nearly $1 billion in shoreline restoration projects, tax credits for a company that manufactures fuel from compressed turkey carcasses, and a provision doubling the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive. The Republican lawmakers also dropped a section that would have opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, as Democrats had made clear that they would vote against any bill containing such a provision. But the Republicans decided against including a Democrat-favored plan to require large utility companies to steadily increase their use of energy from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar power. [New York Times, 11/15/2003; The Washington Post, 11/16/2003 [b]; Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003; Associated Press, 11/16/2003] The bill includes:
A provision introduced by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay that would provide energy companies and universities with $2 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years for research and development of ultra deep-water oil exploration techniques and “unconventional” natural gas extraction. [The Washington Post, 11/16/2003; Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003; Associated Press, 11/16/2003]

A controversial provision granting Gulf Coast refiners of the fuel additive MTBE $2 billion in subsidies to assist them in the phasing out of MTBE production. The phase-out, originally proposed to take 4 years, is extended to 10 by the bill. MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, which helps decrease smog, is known to contaminate groundwater. The new energy bill would also prevent communities from bringing product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of MTBE. Tom Delay was a strong supporter of this provision, as were other legislators from Louisiana and Texas, where MTBE is produced. [The Washington Post, 11/16/2003; New York Times, 11/15/2003; Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003; Associated Press, 11/16/2003]

A section dealing with the electric grid that would require large power companies to meet new mandatory reliability standards. [New York Times, 11/15/2003; New York Times, 11/16/2003]

Royalty relief to the owners of marginal oil and gas wells. The program would apply to approximately 80 percent of all wells on federal lands. [Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003]

A provision that would allow taxpayer money to fund the clean-up of leaking underground gasoline storage tanks (LUST). [Sources: Letter from head of evironmental groups to Congress about the energy bill HR 6]

A provision authorizing Alaska's “Denali Commission” to use over $1 billion on hydroelectric and other energy projects on Alaska Federal Lands. [Sources: Letter from head of evironmental groups to Congress about the energy bill HR 6]

A provision permitting urban areas like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington, DC and southwestern Michigan to further delay efforts to reduce air pollution, “an action that will place a significant burden on states and municipalities down-wind of these urban centers.” [Sources: Letter from head of evironmental groups to Congress about the energy bill HR 6]

$100 million/year in production tax credits for the construction of up to four light-water nuclear reactors. [Christian Science Monitor, 11/19/2003; The Washington Post, 11/16/2003 [b]]

Loan guarantees for building a $20 billion trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline. But officials of ConocoPhillips, a major backer of the project, complain that the bill's incentives are insufficient to get the project moving. [Associated Press, 11/16/2003; The Washington Post, 11/16/2003 [b]]

Tax incentives to encourage wind power generators, energy-efficient homes and hybrid passenger cars running on gasoline and batteries. Additionally, it sets aside funds for equipping government buildings with photovoltaic cells and developing energy-efficient traffic lights. The package also allocates $6.2 million to encourage bicycle use. But according to a preliminary estimate by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, these progressive reforms would eliminate only about three months worth of energy use between now and 2020. [The Washington Post, 11/16/2003 [b]]

A repeal of the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act, which limits utility industry mergers. This provision was a top priority for the electric power industry and the White House. [The Washington Post, 11/16/2003 [b]]
Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the conference committee charged with resolving differences between the House and Senate bills, acknowledge to the New York Times that the bill will likely be criticized. [New York Times, 11/15/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Pete V. Domenici, Tom DeLay  Additional Info 
          

January 23, 2004

       Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announces that the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) will provide an estimated $1 billion in subsidies to promote deep drilling for natural gas in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Companies that drill wells deeper than 15,000 feet will be exempt from having to pay royalties on the first 15 billion cubic feet of gas produced. For wells deeper than 18,000 feet, royalties will be waived on the first 25 billion cubic feet. The royalty waiver will be discontinued if natural gas prices exceed $9.34 per thousand cubic feet. Without the subsidy, it would be too costly for companies to drill such wells. Norton claims that the program will save consumers money and create an estimated 26,000 new jobs. [Associated Press, 1/23/2003; Petroleum News, 2/1/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Gale A. Norton, US Department of Interior, Bush administration
          


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