While many may be closely watching President Bush's foreign policy, environmental groups are still keeping an eye on actions the Administration is taking on the environment. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy of whitehouse.gov)
The big environmental groups are assessing President George
W. Bush’s record on the environment. Mostly, they’re giving him poor marks. But after the Bush win in November, the real question is whether enough people care about the low rankings. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham
The big environmental groups are assessing President George W. Bush’s record on the environment. Mostly, they’re giving him poor marks. But after the Bush win in November, the real question is whether enough people care about the low rankings. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
With the country at war, a lot of people note President Bush has bigger issues than the environment to address. Greg Wetstone is a spokesperson for the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council. He says the Bush administration has been dealing with environmental regulations – quietly dismantling them.
“I think there has been a very concerted effort by the Bush administration to make these changes happen in a way that does not receive much public scrutiny.”
Wetstone says the NRDC’s most recent report on the Bush administration might not cause policy changes right now, but it does serve a purpose.
“This report, which is really an effort to document what’s happening because, you know, the day will come when we’re going to need to go back and try to fix as much of this as possible.”
And the environmental group says once the people realize the damage that’s being done to the environment, they’ll want it fixed.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
The pesticide diazinon is being phazed out by the EPA for being hazardous. Some gardeners are still buying it despite health warnings. (Photo by Scott Schopieray)
A powerful pesticide that’s popular with gardeners
and homeowners will no longer be sold starting in January, but that
hasn’t stopped people from stocking up on the chemical before it’s
pulled from shelves. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
A powerful pesticide that’s popular with gardners and homeowners will no longer be
sold starting in January. But that hasn’t stopped people from stocking up on the
chemical before it’s pulled from the shelves. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Chris Lehman reports:
Diazinon, at one time, was the most widely used pesticide on lawns. It can
still be sold through the end of the year. But there’s no deadline for homeowners
to use up their supplies. So that’s led some people to stockpile the product. The
decision to ban diazinon was made during the final weeks of the Clinton Administration.
But the Environmental Protection Agency gave diazinon producers four years to phase it out.
Jay Feldman is director of the environmental group Beyond Pesticides. He says the EPA
should have banned diazinon outright instead of phasing it out gradually.
“When the agency identifies a hazard such as this, one that is particularly problematic
to children, it ought to institute a recall, get the product out of commerce, make sure
that people do not continue to use the product unwittngly.”
Officials at the EPA say over-exposure to diazinon can affect the nervous system. They
also say it poses a risk to birds.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
Many scientists are finding that much of the Arctic's ice cover could melt by the end of this summer. However, the Bush Administration cites a few reasons why compliance with the Kyoto treaty is still not a favored option. (Photo by Michael Slonecker)
Despite warnings that global warming is causing the
Arctic to warm up at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the Bush administration is not changing its policies on emissions in the U.S. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Despite warnings that global warming is causing the Arctic to warm up at twice the
rate of the rest of the world, the Bush administration is not changing its policies
on emissions in the U.S. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Earlier this month 300 scientists presented a four-year study that concluded the
Arctic was warming up right now. The report indicated the northern ice cap was already
diminished by 15 to 20 percent, and by the end of this century half of the Arctic’s summer
ice cover would be melted and polar bears could be nearly extinct. The study predicted that
the wildlife in the Arctic and the people who depended on it for food would be in dire straits.
But even with the new evidence that the Arctic is facing worse warming than first predicted,
the Bush adminsitration is not changing its course. The White House has indicated the U.S.
would lose too many jobs and have to restrict its economy more than other nations such as
China and India if it were to adhere to the Kyoto global warming treaty. So far, the Bush
administration has agreed only to fund further research on the issue.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
The Bush Administration has decided to make some changes on the National Forest Management Act, and many environmental groups are not pleased about it. (photo by Stefan Nicolae)
Environmentalists are suing the Bush administration for repealing rules that protect wildlife in national forests. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Environmentalists are suing the Bush administration
for repealing rules that protect wildlife in national
forests. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
During the Reagan administration, regulations were
put in place that required the Forest Service to
ensure non-timber resources such as water, wildlife
and recreation were given due consideration and that
the wildlife be managed to maintain viable populations.
Tim Preso is a staff attorney for Earthjustice, one of
the groups that filed the lawsuit in federal court.
“Now, through a quiet rule-making, the Bush
administration is proposing to strip that protection
away and make it legal to drive wildlife toward
extinction in the national forests. We don’t think
that’s right and we don’t think that’s what the
majority of Americans support and we’re going to
seek to overturn it in the federal courts.”
Without public notice or public comment, the Bush
administration set aside the rule in favor of a less
restrictive guideline that relies on what’s called
“best available science.” One Forest Service official
says it doesn’t change things that much.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester
Many groups, including environmentalists and industry lobbyists, are scrutinizing the presidential candidates' opinions on environmental policy. (Photo courtesy of georgewbush.com)
The presidential candidates haven’t spent a lot of time talking about conservation or the environment. On the campaign trail, nature has taken a backseat to the economy and security. In the first of four reports on the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at the environmental record of President George W. Bush:
The presidential candidates haven’t spent a lot of time talking about conservation or the
environment. On the campaign trail, nature has taken a backseat to the economy and security. In
the first of four reports on the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at the environmental record of President George W. Bush:
President Bush doesn’t often use the words “environment” or “environmental.” He prefers
“conservation.” It’s part of his philosophy. He believes we should manage resources and believes
the government has tipped the scales too far in favor of preservationists at the expense of business and agriculture. On his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush likes to exercise by cutting brush to manage nature. It’s could be a metaphor for how he sees the larger issue. It seemed that way when he talked about his approach to the environment during the second debate.
“I guess you’d say I’m a good steward of the land. The quality of the air’s cleaner since I’ve been the President. Fewer water complaints since I’ve been the President. More land being restored since I’ve been the President.”
While President Bush believes he’s striking the right balance between conserving natural
resources and not regulating business excessively, many environmentalists think the Bush
Administration’s approach to environmental issues is way out of whack.
Betsey Loyless is the Vice President of Policy for the League of Conservation Voters. The LCV
keeps track of votes and issues and grades politicians on their decisions.
“League of Conservation Voters gave George Bush an “F,” the first “F” we’ve ever given out in
modern history to a president because his policies of anti-environmentalism spread across the
board of dirty air, dirty water, degrading our public lands and jeopardizing our energy future by
focusing on 19th century energy policies that don’t meet our 21st century needs.”
President Bush largely ignores criticism from environmental groups. He sees them as extremists.
On the campaign trail, he frames the debate about the environment in terms of finding a better
balance between the protecting the environment and keeping jobs.
“If we want to keep jobs here in America and expand the job base, America must be the best place
in the world to do business. That means less regulations on our business owners.”
You would think that would make business and industry-types happy. But even there, the
President has his critics. The free-market supporters are disappointed in George Bush. They feel
he should have stuck to the ideas he had when he was running for president four years ago: Roll
back regulations that some businesses say cost a lot of money with little benefit to the
environment. The Property and Environment Research Center – self-described as the center for
free market environmentalism – gave the President a “C-minus” grade on his mid-term report card
because the free-market thinkers believe the Bush Administration compromised its original
proposals to please environmentalists and ended up pleasing no one.
Even some in President’s own party are unhappy with the Bush administration’s dealings with the
environment. The group, Republicans for Environmental Protection, backed by former Republican
EPA Administrators and other prominent Republicans say the President got it wrong. Jim DiPeso
is the group’s Policy Director. His group believes the Bush administration could have done more to
protect the environment.
“Well, our board took a look at the issue and decided that President Bush had not earned our
support based on his record over the last four years. So, because we have a policy of not
endorsing Democrats, the only alternative that we had in order to express our disappointment was
simply to withhold an endorsement for the presidential race this year.”
But the majority of Republicans say the President is making progress on environmental issues.
Lynn Scarlett is one of the architects of the Bush environmental policy. She is Assistant Secretary
of the Department of Interior’s Office of Policy Management and Budget.
“This administration has the highest dollars ever expended by any administration going towards
environmental protection whether it’s on the pollution side and pollution clean up or on the land
management and conservation side. We have a number of new programs the President initiated.
So, there is an awful lot that is occurring that is getting results on the ground.”
President Bush believes the government should be partners with private landowners and
industry… encouraging them to be more environmentally friendly instead of relying on regulations
to mandate less pollution and better stewardship of the land. Environmentalists say that leaves too much to chance and the potential cost to the planet is too dear.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Opinions vary on Cheney's environmental policy. Some say he's done well, some say he hasn't done enough. (Photo courtesy of
The political campaigns have been preoccupied with war, jobs, and health care. There’s been little mention of another issue that some Americans also find very important: the environment. As part of a series of profiles on the presidential and vice presidential candidates’ records on the environment, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at Vice President Dick Cheney:
The political campaigns have been preoccupied with war, jobs, and health care. There’s been
little mention of another issue that some Americans also find very important: the environment.
As part of a series of profiles on the presidential and vice presidential candidates’ records
on the environment, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at Vice President
This fall, during a campaign stop, Vice President Cheney was asked about his concerns and
philosophy on the preservation, conservation, and sustainability of water and natural resources.
The Vice President told his audience that he shared their concerns about the environment.
“Anybody who spends any time on waters, fishing, as I do – steelhead in northern British Columbia
when I get a chance and for trout in Wyoming and various places – it’s a fantastic resource. And
we really have an obligation to try to improve it and pass it on to the next generation in better
shape than we found it. I think we’re doing, as a general proposition, we’re doing pretty well.
Better than we used to.”
But most environmental groups are concerned Vice President Cheney is leading the effort to roll
back many environmental protections. Group after group is critical of the Vice President’s
“Cheney’s role has really been to be the front guy to fight for the industry’s agenda.”
Greg Wetstone directs the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund. Wetstone says Cheney
has become an easy target for criticism by the environmental movement. Wetstone says it’s clear
that Dick Cheney has wielded more power than most vice presidents have in the past.
“Well, the Vice President has clearly played a huge role in shaping this administration’s
policies on the environment and especially energy policy. It was Vice President Cheney who
led the Energy Task Force that met secretly with top industry lobbyists and shaped the policies
that were proposed by this administration while shutting out the advocates for a cleaner
environment. The polluters basically all but held the pen in crafting this administration’s
The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Bush White House, calling for the release of
documents related to the secret meetings. The courts ordered some documents to be released.
And the environmentalists say those papers confirmed the role of gas and oil industry lobbyists
in drafting the Bush energy policy.
Chris Horner says he took part in some of those meetings. Horner is a Senior Fellow at the
free-market think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He says the Vice President
worked hard to include environmentally friendly approaches when drafting the policy for energy.
“He pushed heavily in his energy plan for windmills, solar panel, transition to gas even more.
He didn’t just consult with free-market groups like ours. The reportage notwithstanding, I went
in several times to meet with these people and I passed very hard left-leaning groups on the way,
in the waiting room on the way out. The administration met with greens. They met with
free-marketers. They met with everyone.”
But the environmental groups argue the gas and oil industry had too much influence on the plan
that is supposed to regulate them.
The League of Conservation Voters has given the Bush administration failing marks for its
handling of environmental issues. Betsey Loyless is the group’s vice president of policy. She
says the energy task force is a good example of how Vice President Cheney contributed to what
her group sees as failure.
“We have an energy bill that wants to open sensitive public lands to drilling. That’s part of
the Cheney philosophy. We have a secret energy task force that wants to subsidize, at the
taxpayers’ expense, the coal, oil, and gas industry. That’s at Cheney’s behest. I mean,
Cheney has been the real leader.”
Vice President Cheney’s defenders say he’s only being realistic and practical. They say the
nation’s energy security should not be put at risk because of a few environmental extremists.
While Cheney is villified by the environmentalists, it doesn’t appear that all voters view him
in quite the same terms.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Many environmental groups say that Edwards is doing a great job of supporting environmental issues, but some are arguing that his voting record says otherwise. (Photo by Dave Scull, courtesy of
With concerns about the economy, the war on terror and the war in Iraq, politicians have not spent a lot of time on topics such as the environment. As part of a series of profiles on the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports that the candidate with the shortest record of public service is the candidate who talks the most about the environment on the campaign trail. Here’s a look at Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards:
With concerns about the economy, the war on terror and the war in Iraq, politicians have not
spent a lot of time on topics such as the environment. As part of a series of profiles on the
presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham
reports that the candidate with the shortest record of public service is the candidate who talks
the most about the environment on the campaign trail. Heres’a look at Democratic vice presidential
candidate John Edwards:
Senator Edwards thinks the Bush campaign is vulnerable on environmental issues. When asked about
his positions on the environment, he often begins by talking about the things he feels are at risk
under Bush administration.
“Over and over and over, whether it has to do with protecting our air, protecting our water,
whether we’re going to become energy independent in this country, protecting our natural
resources, making sure that we protect our lands, our national forests – all these issues
that are so important – making sure we don’t drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, all these
things are important because we have a responsibility to our children and our grandchildren
to leave this planet better than the way we found it. And that’s what we’ll do when John Kerry’s
Although John Kerry has not spent a lot of time talking about the environment himself, Senator
Edwards knows that over 20 years in the U.S. Senate Kerry has a lifetime approval rating from the
League of Conservation Voters of 92 percent. The average Democrat has an approval rating of 70
percent… the average Republican an approval rating of 13 percent.”
Betsey Loyless is the League of Conservation Voters vice president of policy. She says
Edwards’ own record on the environment is not nearly as extensive.
“Senator Edwards has a short record on the environment because he’s been in the Senate only
one term, but his record has been, I think, has been quite good for a one-term senator. And,
he has been a leader on clean air issues. This administration, the Bush administration, had
pushed to weaken Clean Air Act standards as they apply to these old grandfathered power plants
that are the biggest of polluters. Senator Edwards led the charge to tell the Bush administration
to stop that policy on behalf of power plant operators and utilities.”
Senator Edwards did not get that job done. The Bush policy to allow power plants to make
improvements without updating pollution control equipment was put into place.
John Edwards talks about that losing battle while he’s on the campaign trail. He says he –
at least – wanted studies to see if the experts thought the changes in the regulations on the
old coal-fired power plants would affect human health.
“I mean, the laws had been there for 25 years. Can’t we take six months to figure out if you
change them what it’s going to do to people? And they refused to do it. Here’s why: they know
the answer. They know exactly. They were for it because the big energy companies are for it.
It’s just no more complicated than that. And so, that’s one example of the fight.”
Senator Edwards’ fight hasn’t been going on very long. Before his election to the U.S. Senate,
he held no legislative seat.
Jack Betts is an editorial writer and columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He’s followed
Edwards’ political career for the last few years. Betts says the environmental groups in
Edwards’ home state of North Carolina seem to approve of the senator’s positions.
“John Edwards in his Senate campaign six years ago was identified as the more likely
to be a strong advocate for the environment. And I think that helped him to election then.
And I don’t think he’s done anything to reverse those expectations about how he would stand
on the environment in the future.”
Senator Edwards’ critics say really it’s hard to say how he’d stand on any issue. They point to
his voting record for the last couple of years, noting that he was often absent. He’s missed
votes while on the road campaigning to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee… and now
campaigning as vice presidential candidate. But the environmental groups seem confident
that as vice president, John Edwards would fully support what they would expect to be a
pro-environment Kerry administration.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
A group called Scientists and Engineers for Change is touring battleground states, campaigning against the Bush Administration.
(Photo by Emanuel Lobeck)
A group of prominent American scientists, including 10 Nobel prize-winners, will bring a campaign against the Bush Administration to key battleground states in the region. The group says the President has misused and marginalized scientific research. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports:
A group of prominent American scientists, including 10 Nobel prize-winners,
will bring a campaign against the Bush Administration to key battleground states
in the Great Lakes. The group says the President has misused and marginalized
scientific research. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s David Sommerstein reports:
The political advocacy group formed last week is called Scientists and Engineers for
Change. Stanford University professor Douglas Osheroff is a member. He won the Nobel
Prize for physics in 1996. He says the Bush Administration is compromising scientific integrity.
“Having scientists reporting to middle-level bureaucrats who simply don’t have the background
to assess what the scientists are saying and he, of course, has essentially put a gag order
on scientists that are paid by the government directly. They are really not free to say what
Osheroff also says President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s ties to the oil industry have
led them to minimize evidence of climate change.
Members of the Scientists and Engineers for Change will speak in Battleground states
like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania this month.
The group has no direct ties to Senator John Kerry’s campaign. The Bush campaign hasn’t
responded to the group’s claims.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m David Sommerstein.
When "opportunities for wilderness" knock, will Congress answer? (Photo by Jake Levin)
The Bush Administration is recommending wilderness protection for a group of 21 islands in Lake Superior. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson reports:
The Bush Administration is recommending wilderness protection for a group of 21 islands
in Lake Superior. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson reports from
This is the first time Assistant Interior Secretary Craig Manson visited the Apostle Islands
National Lakeshore off the coast of Wisconsin. If Congress goes along with the
Administration’s recommendation, his next visit won’t see much change because much
of the park is already operating as a wilderness area. Manson says critics are wrong
when they say the Bush Administration isn’t protecting wilderness.
“Ultimately, it is up to the Congress to designate wilderness. There are a number of
wilderness proposals pending before the Congress that have been in limbo for a number
of years and Congress has failed to act on them.”
The proposal would keep 80% of the islands a wilderness area… with motorboat access
to the islands, but no motor vehicles allowed on the 21-island group. That’s not enough,
according to Sean Wherley. He’s with the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
He says it’s political grandstanding for a battleground state.
“The fact that now it’s lining up behind a non-controversial piece on the Apostles is
disingenuous and misleading at best. It’s very troubling because they have passed on
opportunities for wilderness across the country.”
So far this Congress hasn’t passed any wilderness designations. If that holds true, it will be
only the second Congress not to do that since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mike Simonson.
President Bush says he wants the federal government to help coordinate clean-up of the Great Lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency will spearhead the so-called Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bettina Kozlowski has more:
President Bush says he wants the federal government to help coordinate
clean-up of the Great Lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency will
spearhead the so-called Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bettina Kozlowski has more:
The Task Force is charged with coordinating existing federal, state and
local programs and presenting a unified plan to the President next
EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt will head the task force.
He says the central body will coordinate strategies to attract more
“We can do a better job at managing the 140 programs we already have
and bring a better payload to the Great Lakes. The role of the federal
government is to simply join with the cities, with the other states and
to become a convener and then to step back into our place as a full
Leavitt hopes the partnership will tackle the problems with
contaminated water, fish and wildlife, and curb the spread of invasive
species such as the Asian carp.
U.S. Congressman Rahm Emanuel and environmentalists say the plan is a
They say the Administration is trying to distract voters from its poor
record on the environment. Illinois Democrat Emanuel says the Great
Lakes need funding, not another study.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bettina Kozlowski.