Thursday, April 22, 2004

On Earth Day, Bush Notes His Efforts To Combat Pollution (...No, Really.)

Today on GeorgeWBush.com, a transcript of the President's speech in recognition of Earth Day. Yes, it's unintentionally hilarious. And yes, I've got highlights.

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to celebrate Earth Day with you in a state that I know pretty darn well, in a state that I love, in an area that I now realize I know well because it was right off the beach here that old Number 41 and I liked to try to catch striped bass. (Laughter.) It's a pretty good place to fish around here.

So Junior and his dad like to fish while they're in Maine. Charming. But before father and son grill up that catch of the day, they should take a look at this, from the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) Bush Record On Mercury.

Many scientists, environmentalists and politicians are outraged that the White House tweaked the scientific information to minimize the threat of mercury exposure. Examples of the changes include crossing out the word "confirmed" in the phrase "confirmed public health risk," and changing "are at an increased health risk" to "may be at an increased health risk." In several cases, the edits toned down the link between power plants and elevated levels of methylmercury in fish, despite the fact that power plan pollution is the largest unregulated source of mercury air pollution. In fact, high mercury levels prompted fish safety warnings in more than 44 states over the past year.

I know that when I think, "elevated levels of methylmercury in fish," I think delicious.

For sheer nonsense, this comment also stood out:

PRESIDENT BUSH: In the years since Earth Day was established, America has made great strides in honoring the ideal of conservation and living by high standards of stewardship. We've made tremendous progress during the last four years.

Here are some of the accomplishments which have lead to the President's tremendous progress on behalf of the environment.

a) Granting special exemptions to allow the injection of sewage into deep wells in Florida, despite the government's own studies that show that pollution could contaminate drinking water supplies.

b) Loosening restrictions on the release of inadequately treated sewage into waterways while shelving long-standing proposals to reduce sewage spills that every year contaminate beaches and coastal waters with bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter.

c) Cutting a sweetheart legal deal behind closed doors with the state of Utah that threatens to open millions of acres of wilderness-quality public lands to drilling, mining, road building, and other developments.

d) Rejecting tough new mercury standards in favor of a plan that would allow nearly seven times as much mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants for nearly 20 more years.

e) Easing environmental safeguards and public participation requirements to promote logging in national forests and oil and gas drilling on pristine public lands.

NRDC, "Rewriting The Rules"

I yearn for the days when Republican presidents would simply deny that pollution exists, rather than celebrate disingenuous attempts to combat it.

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk." Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980. (In reality, the average nuclear reactor generates 30 tons of radioactive waste per year.)