Sunday, February 13, 2005

"Clear skies" v. "clean government"?

Once upon a time in Washington, D.C., there was such a thing as a "conflict of interest." The phrase was used to describe situations that should be avoided in order to (1) limit the power of "insiders" and (2) maximize the potential for government decisions that were balanced, fair, and had integrity. None of those words apply to the latest environmental legislation that has emerged from the Bush administration and is now being considered on Capitol Hill.

This week, several reporters (including myself) were given previously secret documents that clearly show the "Clear Skies Act," (which is supposed to regulate industries that pollute the air) was written by lobbyists representing those very same polluting industries. The documents show that two years ago, eight power plant companies reviewed the administration's first draft and submitted a list of "essential changes."

The administration complied... and all of the changes are part of the new legislation.The issue is significant because the National Academy of Sciences is reporting that if the "Clear Skies Act" passes in its current form, it would lead to more air pollution being pumped into the air than is allowed under current laws. Link

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