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forest defense | government

Bush's environmental rhetoric rings hollow

In our own Pacific Northwest, 33,000 coho salmon were killed in the Klamath River in Oregon from the effects of the Bush administration's irrigation policies.
In issue 937 of Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote, "George W. Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president." This was only a part of Kennedy's 8,500-word rant, "Crimes against nature," about the Bush administration's environmental policies.

Since Bush's election, federal agencies that deal with public health and pollution have begun to stop doing what they were originally meant to do. Under Bush, Kennedy wrote, the Environmental Protection Agency has halted work on 62 environmental standards, and the Food and Drug Administration has stopped work on 57 standards. This suggests that, under President Bush, EPA is not doing its job, nor is the FDA.

Even Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, managed to do more environmentally during his stay at the White House.

The United States produces approximately 25 percent of all the pollution in the world. Much of this pollution comes from power plants and large corporations that are not held accountable to clean their messes up. While more sites are being added to the Superfund's contaminated sites list, the EPA lacks the funding to clean these sites up at a reasonable rate. National Resources Defense Council Advocacy Director Greg Wetstone has said, "Under the Bush administration, the number of annual Superfund cleanups has been dropped by more than half, and the program is rapidly running out of money. Unless the administration is willing to fund this program, the only choice for taxpayers is to live with this toxic legacy or foot the bill for the cleanups."

Reassuring rhetoric

For three years, Bush has been suppressing information that is vital to the environment's well-being and using environmental rhetoric to help subdue critics into thinking he was actually doing something for the good of our environment.

In our own Pacific Northwest, 33,000 coho salmon were killed in the Klamath River in Oregon from the effects of the administration's irrigation policies. It has been reported that, in 2001, U.S. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and White House political advisor Karl Rove intervened to give farms more river water. As Kennedy wrote, Norton and Rove "forced National Marine Fisheries scientists to alter findings on the amount of water required for the survival of salmon in Oregon's Klamath River, to ensure that large corporate farms got a bigger share of the river water," which resulted in, "the largest fish kill in the history of America."

Although Bush's polices may sometimes lead to short-term economic gains, the impact on the environment should not be overlooked. If Bush is re-elected next fall, the state of the economy may improve, but the resulting damage to the environment is something that my generation will have to pay for and deal with long after Bush is gone.

Kevin Krohn, 18, is a senior at Heritage High School, Clark County, Washington.

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