|Hazardous Waste Sites
For the most part, the White House policy toward hazardous waste
is hazardous to public health. The Superfund program is bankrupt
-- largely because toxic waste cleanups have been underfunded by
an average of more than $300 million per year since 2001. In addition,
the Environmental Protection Agency last year quietly reversed a
long-standing environmental safeguard by lifting a 25-year old ban
on the sale of land contaminated with cancer-causing PCBs. Shortly
afterwards, the agency began a rulemaking process to reclassify
industrial materials as recyclable in order to exempt more hazardous
waste from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
WH Claim: Enacted legislation accelerating brownfields cleanup.
Reality: The law provides funding to states, but does not set
federal standards for public health and environment protection
or deed restrictions on sites where toxins may linger after cleanup
has been completed.
(item from 01/10/02)
(item from 09/02/03)
The White House has not proven itself to be a good steward of America's
forests, parks and special places. In its quest to boost logging
in national forests -- under the guise of wildfire prevention --
the Forest Service has weakened environmental protections and curtailed
public participation. Meanwhile, the Interior Department has underfunded
and mismanaged national parks, accelerated energy development on
public lands and worked to reverse a decade's worth of environmentally
friendly mining and grazing reforms.
"Healthy Forests" Initiative
WH Claim: Restores the health and vitality of
forests and rangelands, and helps reduce the threat of catastrophic
Reality: Exploits people's fear of fire to promote
commercial logging in backcountry forests -- which may even promote
fire -- rather than "thinning" trees and clearing brush
around people's homes, as experts recommend.
WH Claim: Of the $4.9 billion maintenance backlog
plaguing national parks, $2.8 billion has been allocated and another
$1.1 billion proposed.
Reality: The White House's numbers don't add up.
The General Accounting Office estimates the current maintenance
backlog is between $4 billion and $6.8 billion. According to the
National Parks Conservation Association, the administration has
so far provided only $662 million to address that backlog. The
FY 2005 budget proposes only $350 million in new money to address
the maintenance backlog. (To the consternation of conservationists,
the administration also has shifted money away from other essential
park programs.) On average, national parks are operating with
only two thirds of the necessary funding, a system-wide shortfall
that translates to more than $600 million annually.
http://www.nrdc.org/BushRecord/wildlife_parks.asp (items from
01/28/04 and 03/16/04)
WH Claim: Enhances conservation and environmental
stewardship, providing more than $40 billion to restore wetlands,
protect habitats, conserve water, and improve water near farms.
Reality: Only $9 billion of the new spending will
address conservation, with the rest funding environmentally damaging
policies and subsidizing polluting corporate factory farms. The
proposed FY 2005 federal budget also would significantly slash
funding for farmer and landowner conservation activities.
(item from 05/14/04)
WH Claim: The FY 2005 budget proposal provides
$507 million for the Interior Department's cooperative conservation
programs to work with communities, nonprofits, states and citizens
to remove invasive species, reduce stream bank erosion, and improve
Reality: The administration has proposed slashing
federal funding for important cooperative conservation programs
including state and tribal wildlife grants. Furthermore, the FY
2005 budget proposes cutting overall environmental funding by
$1.9 billion (compared to FY 2004).
The White House touts its air pollution policies while trying to
undo decades of progress. The EPA's air pollution plan is weaker
than the Clean Air Act, and its mercury proposal would allow seven
times as much this dangerous toxin to collect in our lakes and streams.
While the new proposal to clean up heavy-duty diesels is commendable,
it stands in stark contrast to the rest of the administration's
abysmal record on air pollution. Most notably, the White House avoids
discussing its rollback of the Clean Air Act's "New Source
Review" program, which allows some of the dirtiest power plants
in the country to emit more pollution for a longer period of time
than what current law, fully enforced, would allow.
So-called "Clear Skies" Initiative
WH Claim: Reduces sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide
and mercury emissions.
Reality: Would allow more pollution than existing
law permits and does nothing to curb carbon dioxide pollution,
the main cause of global warming.
Clean Air Interstate Rule
WH Claim: Would cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen
Reality: This is an administrative rule based
on the weak "Clear Skies" plan that has stalled in Congress.
It would allow more pollution for a longer period of time than
the Clean Air Act would allow.
Details: NRDC's legal comments on the rule and
other information are available upon request.
WH Claim: Pending legislation calls for 70 percent
cut of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury over the next
Reality: The bill treats highly toxic mercury
as if it is not hazardous. And the proposed cuts are weaker than
Clean Air Act would allow, resulting in more mercury pollution
over a much longer time period.
(item from 01/10/02)
WH Claim: New rules would cut pollution from heavy-duty
diesel vehicles used for construction, agricultural and industrial
Reality: In sharp contrast to other White House
policies, this rule is an important step forward to reduce air
(item from 01/10/02)
Fuel Savings from Light Trucks
WH Claim: Fuel economy standards for SUVs, vans
and pick-up trucks have been raised.
Reality: This 1.5 miles-per-gallon increase over
five years is a drop in the bucket toward making America less
dependent on foreign oil -- and even these savings will be largely
wiped out by the "dual fuel" loophole that allows the
auto industry to skirt efficiency standards. We have the technology
now to make all vehicles go further on a gas of gasoline, but
incremental fuel economy increases are not going to get the technology
on the market. Incidentally, one year after this paltry increase
was announced, the overall American vehicle fleet hit a 22-year
low in average fuel economy.
(item from 02/18/04)
Whether it is ignoring its own National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
study saying global warming is happening and has real consequences,
or adopting do-nothing voluntary programs, the White House is not
taking global warming seriously. Making matters worse, its energy
policy amounts to more dirty forms of energy such as oil and coal,
at the expense of efficiency and cleaner technology such as wind
and solar -- ensuring that the United States remains dangerously
dependent on oil from the Middle East and other unstable regions.
Greenhouse Gas "Intensity"
WH Claim: Committed to cutting greenhouse gas
"intensity" (ratio of emissions to economic output)
by 18 percent by 2012.
Reality: Total emissions will still increase under
this plan by as much as 19 percent because of expected economic
growth. That is about the same rate of reduction in carbon intensity
that has occurred over the past 12 years, according to an Energy
Department analysis. In other words, this is a do-nothing approach.
(item from 02/12/03)
(see section 1 under Global Warming)
Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy, Hybrids and Fuel-Cell Vehicles
WH Claim: $4.1 billion in tax incentives proposed
for developing renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies
such as hybrid cars and fuel-cell vehicles.
Reality: Despite hundreds of billions of dollars
in tax cuts that the White House has pushed through Congress,
these incentives have not been enacted. Meanwhile, the White House
actually has cut R&D funding for alternative energy programs.
And while hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles may be viable in the future,
technology available today, such as gasoline-electric hybrid engines,
can reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Meanwhile, the White
House has continued to push Congress to pass an energy bill that
rewards polluters with billions of dollars in tax subsidies to
continue business as usual.
(NRDC Energy Policy)
Climate Change Research
WH Claim: FY 2005 budget proposes a 42 percent
increase in climate research (compared to FY 2004).
Reality: Although the administration increased
one climate science program by $70 billion (or 42 percent), it
cut the U.S. Global Change Research Program by $109 million, for
a $40 million net reduction in climate science research, according
to OMB's May 2004 "Federal Climate Change Expenditures Report
to Congress." In any case, the realities of global warming
already have been established, most recently by a National Academy
of Science study. We know enough to act -- and real action is
needed -- but the White House would rather stall.
(item from 01/10/02)
WH Claim: Over the next 10 years, the United States
will sponsor a demonstration project to create a coal-fired, zero
emissions power plant and also create a hydrogen energy system,
which will include hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
Reality: While carbon sequestration and zero-emission
technologies should be encouraged, the White House opposes enforceable
limits on carbon emissions that would drive private investment
in deploying this technology. Moreover, energy efficiency and
renewable energy technology such as wind and solar are available
now, and will reduce air pollution and global warming emissions
now, not decades in the future. (For hydrogen, see above section
on fuel cells.)
(item from 01/27/04)
WH Claim: A voluntary approach to convincing industries
to reduce their global warming pollution is preferred.
Reality: Voluntary programs are not enough to
effectively decrease global warming pollution. The United States
has tried a range of domestic and international voluntary efforts
to reduce global warming pollution over the past decade, but U.S.
emissions have continued to rise.
Our oceans face far-reaching problems, ranging from invasive species
to climate change. But the sharp decline of ocean health is primarily
the result of overfishing and pollution (particularly coastal
habitat degradation). At the heart of the recommendations in recent
reports by the independent Pew Commission and the presidentially
appointed U.S. Commission on Oceans Policy is the need to shift
human ocean activity away from exploitation and resource extraction
toward stewardship, revitalization and recovery. Both reports
conclude that capitalizing on this historic opportunity to significantly
advance ocean conservation will require bold, visionary political
Marine Ecosystem Restoration
WH Claim: Working with NOAA and state and local
governments, the National Park Service has begun work on restoring
Reality: In the face of collapsing ocean ecosystems,
protecting and restoring marine reserves -- while a positive step
-- falls far short of the policies needed to address the concerns
raised by the Pew and U.S. commissions.
(items from 04/16/02 and 03/29/02)
(item from 09/02/03)
Waters and Wetlands
Almost every aspect of clean water protection -- from wetlands and
sewage control to efforts to reduce factory farm pollution -- is
under siege. More than 300,000 miles of the nation's rivers and
shorelines -- and some 5 million acres of the lakes -- are "impaired,"
according to EPA. In fact, after years of improvement, 45 percent
of the nation's assessed waterways are too polluted for fishing
or swimming, up from 40 percent a few years ago.
WH Claim: Earth Day 2004 pledge of an overall
increase of 3 million wetland acres annually over the next five
years.Reality: Three million new wetland
acres is a laudable goal, but what about the estimated 20 million
acres of wetlands (and countless waterways nationwide) threatened
by a January 2003 directive to federal agencies easing Clean Water
Act protection? Although the administration, under pressure from
conservation groups, agreed to end its rulemaking process for
lifting Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands, its
accompanying directive remains in effect.
(items from 04/22/04, 05/22/03, 12/26/02, 01/14/02, 11/02/01,
(items from 05/28/04 and 04/09/04)
Great Lakes Funding
WH Claim: FY 2005 budget proposes $45 million
for the EPA and community partners to remediate contaminated sediments
to prevent toxics such as PCBs and heavy metals from entering
the food chain.Reality: The Great Lakes
region is a net loser under the FY 2005 budget proposal. The budget
calls for an overall cut of nearly $500 million for sewage system
upgrade nationwide (under the Clean Water State Revolving Loan
Fund), and includes a nearly $240 million (more than 40 percent)
decrease in clean water funding for the nine Great Lakes states.
(NRDC's funding analysis is available upon request.) In addition,
White House air pollution policies ignore mercury pollution from
power plants, which has prompted fish consumption warnings in
the Great Lakes region.
(item from 01/10/02)
(items from 03/16/04, 10/29/03, 10/10/03)
WH Claim: FY 2005 budget requests $21 million
for Water 2025 to strategically address water demands, help state,
tribe, and local communities conserve water, andmonitor resources
using collaborative approaches and market-based transfers.
Reality: The administration remains more focused
on water supply than water quality. And it should be noted that
EPA has misled the public on drinking water qualityand safety.