Elizabeth Grossman: Last minute Bush Administration actions

President-elect Barack ObamaOn November 4, from the White House to state houses and the unsung offices of Soil & Water Conservation and Public Utility Districts, American voters elected what is likely an unprecedented number of pro-environment candidates. By Thursday of last week, the Office of the President-elect had already posted the “Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy America” plan. Among its goals are putting a million hybrid 150 mpg plug-in cars on the road by 2015, creating five million new “clean energy jobs” in the next ten years, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The new administration also promises to double federal funding for scientific research, increase support for science education, technological research and development, and to “restore scientific integrity to the White House.” What would be a tall order in the best of times has been made even more challenging by the past eight weeks’ events.

Not only will the Obama administration take office amid the greatest economic distress perhaps since the Great Depression, but the Bush administration has also been busy issuing end-of-term regulations that will considerably increase environmental protection challenges.

Among these new rules are:

  • A proposal that would make it impossible to use the Endangered Species Act to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and global warming even when they harm a listed species.
  • A Surface Mining Rule that could effectively eliminate a 100-foot buffer zone to protect streams from mining waste generated in mountaintop removal coal mining operations in Appalachia.
  • An EPA proposal not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water – a contaminant toxic to the thyroid now found in hundreds of water sources in over thirty states.
  • Approval of the pesticide methyl iodide to replace ozone-depleting methyl bromide, long favored by the U.S. strawberry industry. Over fifty scientists – including Nobel laureates – have written to the EPA protesting use of this powerful neurotoxin and potential carcinogen.

Environmental advocates have great expectations for what an Obama administration can achieve. But it won’t be easy. Environmental protection at a time of badly strained budgets and economic turmoil will require ingenuity and persistence – and I think, accounting for the full lifecycle costs of everything we use, including all the costs of global warming, pollution, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion.

What do you think? Leave us a comment.


Elizabeth Grossman is the author of High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health.


About Elizabeth Grossman

Elizabeth Grossman is the author of High Tech Trash, Chasing Molecules, Watershed: The Undamming of America (Counterpoint Press, 2002), and Adventuring Along the Lewis and Clark Trail (Sierra Club Books, 2003). She is also the co-editor of Shadow Cat: Encountering the American Mountain Lion (Sasquatch Books, 1999). Grossman’s writing has also appeared in a variety of publications, including Amicus Journal, Audubon, California Wild, Cascadia Times, Chicago Tribune, Environmental News Network, Grist, The Nation, New York Times Book Review, Newsday, Oregonian, Orion, the Patagonia catalogue, Salon.com, Seattle Times, Washington Post, and Yes! A native of New York City, she has a BA in literature from Yale University. She now lives a minute’s walk from the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. When not at her desk writing she's out exploring—hiking, camping, paddling, sketching, and watching birds.

3 Responses to Elizabeth Grossman: Last minute Bush Administration actions

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I am planning a trip for this summer. Can you recommend anything? I am 21 years old, female and from Orlando, FL.

  2. man and van says:

    Bush should be brought to justice, as for Obama…there its plenty of work to do..starting with the USA and the middle east.

  3. The biggest of all Bush Administration actions…bigger than the fiasco in Iraq….the one that toppled the family of humanity’s global political economy.

    Billions of dollars are paid in bonuses and bailouts to the “wonder boys” on Wall Street. Precisely what have these self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe been doing for billion dollar year-end paydays?

    Yesterday we found out.

    In recent years “the brightest and best” have perfected the rule-making governing the manipulation of ‘free’ markets and the institutionalization of fraudulent financial instruments and business models.

    What still mystifies me is this: What have these heirs of Ozymandias done in 2008 to merit this self-enrichment? More manipulation and more fraud for more ill-gotten gains, I suppose.

    What can done for the benefit of the human community to put right this massive wrongdoing?

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

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