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Key Events

Key events

General Topic Areas

Global warming
Wildlife protection
Corporate welfare
Public health
Air pollution
Public land use
National Parks
Corruption
Wetlands
Water pollution
Environmental enforcement
Outsourcing and privatization
Politicization and deception
Superfund sites and clean-up
Toxic waste
Shorelines and oceans
Endangered species
Appointments and resignations

Corporate Interests

Automobile industry
Coal Industry
Timber industry
Agribusiness
Oil and gas industry
Energy industry
Snowmobile Industry
Mining industry
Cattle Industry

Specific Pollutants

Mercury
Methyl Bromide
MTBE
Formaldehyde
Atrazine
Lead

Specific Issues and Cases

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Clear Skies
Round Up power plant
Outsourcing CAT
New Source Review
Klamath Basin Fish Kill
Formaldehyde Rule
Mining in the Cabinet Mountains
Roadless Rule
Mountaintop Mining
Snowmobile regulation
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The Bush administration's environmental record: Government appointments and resignations

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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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. [Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004; Los Angeles Times, 6/3/2002; Grist Magazine, 5/24/2004] “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: Environmental Protection Agency, Michele Merkel, Bush administration
          

February 27, 2002

       Eric Schaeffer, 47, head of the EPA's Office of Regulatory Enforcement, sends his letter of resignation to EPA administrator Christine Whitman. In the letter he says that he and his colleagues have been “fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules that [EPA employees] are trying to enforce.” He complains that the administration is crippling the EPA's enforcement divisions with budget cuts and that the White House is working with energy-industry lobbyists to weaken the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act which requires older coal power plants to install pollution controls when upgrading plant equipment (see August 27, 2003). [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/1/2002; Washington Monthly, July/August 2002; New York Times, 1/5/2004; MSNBC, 4/20/2004 Sources: Eric Schaeffer's Letter of Resignation, February 27, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Eric Schaeffer, Bush administration
          

August 11, 2003

       President George Bush names Utah Governor Mike Leavitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, replacing Christie Todd Whitman who resigned in June. [White House, 8/11/2003] Leavitt was at the center of a controversy a couple of months ago for a back-room deal he made with Interior Secretary Gale Norton to suspend wilderness studies on millions of acres of Utah lands (see April 11, 2003). He supports replacing mandatory pollution controls with voluntary compliance programs for polluting industries and is a strong backer of the administration's policy of shifting environmental regulation to the states. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Washington Times, 8/12/2003] During his term as governor, US Magnesium, a magnesium-processing company on the western side of the Great Salt Lake, earned the place as the nation's worst polluter. Leavitt says that he and Bush “have a like mind and a like heart” on environmental policy. [Salt Lake City Tribune, 8/12/2003] Environmentalists condemn the nomination noting that aside from Leavitt's strong opposition to a plan to store nuclear waste on a Utah Indian reservation, the governor has a very poor environmental record. “Mike Leavitt has no credentials, no understanding and no political willpower to protect America's clean air, clean water and clean land,” Marc Clemens, chapter coordinator for the Utah Sierra Club, tells the Salt Lake Tribune. [Salt Lake City Tribune, 8/12/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Mike Leavitt, Environmental Protection Agency
          

December 27, 2003

       Bruce Buckheit, 56, the director of the EPA's air enforcement office, resigns from his post out of frustration with the Bush administration's changes to the Clean Air Act (see August 27, 2003) (see December 2003). [New York Times, 1/5/2004; Government Executive, 5/15/2004; MSNBC, 4/20/2004] “I had to defend something I didn't believe in,” he explains. [Government Executive, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bruce Buckheit, Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

May 14, 2004

       Michael Kelly, a federal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, resigns complaining that “threatened coho salmon in the Klamath basin still do not have adequate flow conditions to assure their survival” and that his recommendations continue to be politicized by higher-ups. Kelley had previously blown the whistle on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after they had twice rejected the recommendations of a team he headed for the National Marine Fisheries Service (see April 2002). The BLM decision to ignore the recommendations led to the death of 33,000 steelhead and federally protected salmon in the Klamath River (see September 2002), the largest fish kill in US history. More recently, Kelly explains, his regional manager, Jim Lecky, has attempted to overide a study he conducted concluding that a levee repair proposed by the California Department of Fish and Game on the 120-acre Eel River Wildlife Area would endanger California Coastal Chinook salmon and adversely impact Dungeness crab, herring, larval rockfish, eelgrass, other salmonids and the overall ecosystem. “[A]ny amount of caution would dictate that this project never be considered,” he says in a resignation letter he will release on May 19. He says the motivation behind the project appears to be concentrating “certain species of ducks into a smaller area for hunting purposes.” Kelly adds that his position is supported by fisheries biologists within the Department of Fish and Game as well as local wetland scientists and ornithologists. He will also say in his letter that there is low morale among the NOAA Fisheries staff in the region and that his colleagues are “embarrassed and disgusted by the agency's apparent misuse of science.” [Associated Press, 5/20/2004; PEER, 5/19/2004 Sources: May 19, 2004 resignation letter of Michael Kelly]
People and organizations involved: Michael Kelly, Jim Lecky
          


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