Patriotic Duty, Part IV: The Environment

As ranked by readers of RAW, The Sierra Club's online newsletter, here are:

The Top 16 Bush Administration Environmental Issues of 2003

1. MERCURY RISING - Issued public health warnings to pregnant women and children about mercury after announcing policy changes to triple amount of mercury pollution allowed from power plants.

2. SUPER DUPED - Became first administration to support shifting burden of Superfund toxic waste cleanups from polluters to taxpayers.

3. SOOTY SANTA - Dismantled provision of Clean Air Act that requires oldest, dirtiest power plants and refineries to curb soot and smog pollution.

4. BACK IN BLACKOUT - Proposed a national Energy Bill that did nothing to reduce dependence on foreign oil, repair or address antiquated electricity grid, or protect special places from oil and gas drilling.

5. DRILLING WILDERNESS - Opened nearly 9 million pristine acres in Northwest Alaska to the oil and gas industry for exploration and drilling.

6. STONEWALLING, BIG TIME (tied) - Continued to withhold documents from secret meetings between Bush/Cheney Energy Task Force and energy industry lobbyists.

7. DON'T AX, DON'T TELL (tied) - Promoted a wildfire policy that expanded commercial logging in the backcountry but did little to protect people where they live.

8. NEXT STOP, SHINOLA - Allowed untreated sewage to be blended with treated sewage, cut funding for local sewage treatment, and didn't require health officials to warn public about sewage in water.

9. CRITICAL CONDITION - Obliterated the process of critical habitat designation for imperiled wildlife under the Endangered Species Act.

10. COP OFF - Continued pattern of willful negligence for enforcement of even basic clean water and clean air laws.

11. POST 9/11 LIES - Discovered by EPA Inspector General to have lied about post 9/11 environmental health hazards near Ground Zero.

12. ROAD WARRIOR - Expanded the legal loophole that allows obnoxious road claims through federally protected wilderness, national parks, and public lands.

13. HOG WASH - Secretly negotiated backroom deal to exempt giant animal factories from laws governing air and toxic pollution.

14. POLLUTED LOGIC - Refused to classify industrial carbon emissions, linked to global warming, as an official pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

15. HOT AIR - Proposed fantasy hydrogen power initiative to improve auto fuel efficiency rather than promoting more proven technologies like gas-electric hybrids.

16. ESTATE TOX - Ended a 25-year ban on the sale of PCB-laden real estate.

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