Critic's of the President's plans for a green economy say switching from fossil fuels will make energy costs higher and eliminate jobs. (Photo courtesy of whitehouse.gov)
President Obama’s critics say his plan for a green economy is a jobs killer. Lester Graham reports the blogosphere was full of criticism for his plan to reduce greenhouse gases:
President Obama’s critics say his plan for a green economy is a jobs killer. Lester Graham reports the blogosphere was full of criticism for his plan to reduce greenhouse gases:
During Tuesday night’s news conference, President Obama talked about moving to a new energy era:
“That means moving away from polluting energy sources toward cleaner energy sources. That is a potential engine for economic growth.”
Conservatives said ‘No, No, No. Switching from cheap fossil fuels, and putting a price on greenhouse gases to reduce global warming will be a jobs killer.’
David Kreutzer is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation:
“Cutting that energy is going to cut economic activity. Yes, we may see some windmill jobs, but the higher energy costs are going to destroy so many other jobs that the net impact will be significant job loss.”
The President’s critics argue greenhouse gas emissions can’t be reduced enough to really affect global warming.
Meanwhile, recent reports indicate less ice cover on the Great Lakes each winter, polar ice is melting faster than expected, and oceans are rising to the point that people are starting to notice.
Illinois has joined the ranks of states that say federal mercury standards don’t go far enough. Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’ll tighten restrictions on his state’s 22 coal-burning plants. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Robert Wildeboer reports:
Illinois has joined the ranks of states that say federal mercury standards
don’t go far enough. Governor Rod Blagojevich says he’ll tighten
restrictions on his state’s 22 coal burning plants. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Robert Wildeboer reports:
Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich says he first became aware of the
dangers of mercury when his pregnant wife began limiting how much
fish she ate.
Coal-burning plants emit Mercury into the atmosphere. It eventually
ends up in the water supply, contaminating fish.
Blagojevich says current federal standards are inadequate. He wants
plants to contain 90 percent of the mercury pollution they create within 6
“What we’re doing here today is protecting Lake Michigan. Our Lake.
Not just the lake of the city of Chicago, not just the lake of those of us
who live in Illinois, but the Lake that our whole country has come to rely
on and it’s critical for us to protect our natural resources, our lakes and
our rivers and our streams.”
Blagojevich says his proposed standards are among the toughest in the
nation. Critics say the extra financial burden could cause businesses to
move to neighboring states, but Blagojevich says he hopes other Great
Lakes states adopt similar measures.
For the GLRC, I’m Robert Wildeboer.
Illinois won’t adopt the proposed rules until they are approved by a state
Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, Ohio Governor Bob Taft, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. This was right taken after they signed the agreement. (Photo by Shawn Allee)
In the spring of 2004, President Bush created a task force to develop a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration plan. The group recently released its final recommendations. But members already disagree about the future of their proposal. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn Allee reports:
In April 2004, President George Bush created a task force to develop a
comprehensive Great Lakes restoration plan. The group recently
released its recommendations, but members already disagree about the
future of their proposal. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Shawn
Efforts to improve the Great Lakes face a major hurdle. Local, state and
federal programs overlap and sometimes duplicate one another. That
wastes a lot of time and money. President Bush wanted to change this. So, he
created a task force called the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. For the
first time, cities, states, federal agencies, and Indian tribes would agree to
specific goals and how to reach them. By most accounts they succeeded.
Here’s Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
“I can’t overstate what a major step forward this is for the Great Lakes.
For the first time, we’re all the same page with a common vision.”
The parties agreed to eight major goals. Among other things, they want
to restore wetlands along Great Lakes shorelines, they want to clean up
heavy metals that pollute lakebeds, and they want to keep sewage away
from public beaches. The cost for all this would stand at billions of
dollars, and that price tag caused a major rift.
Bush administration officials agreed to spend 300 million additional
dollars per year. That’s just a fraction of what states and environmental
groups hoped for.
Derek Stack is with Great Lakes United, an advocacy group. He says
states want to participate, but sometimes they can’t.
“I think a lot of the states simply don’t have the dollars necessary to pull
Tribes, cities and states are being careful with their criticism. They want
to keep the door open for the administration to change its mind.
“To be fair to the federal administration, the states are saying we don’t
have federal money, and the feds are pointing out that we don’t exactly
have state money either, but the states have committed themselves to the
plan. So, now that they know what they’ve committed themselves to, the
budget building can begin. It’s hard to build a budget if you don’t have a
Some critics are more strident, though. Illinois Congressman Rahm
Emmanuel says the administration needs this clear message. Federal
leadership requires federal money.
“There’s either action or inaction. This is the ninth report in five years,
and I hope it’s the last report. Now, there’s nothing that can’t be cured when
it comes to the Great Lakes that resources can’t take care of.”
Great Lakes advocates and state governments will be watching the next
few months closely.
Cameron Davis directs the Alliance for the Great Lakes. He says he’s
reserving judgment until the President releases a budget proposal.
“That budget will be released the first week of February, and if it has 300
million dollars in new funding, then we’ll know that the administration’s
serious. If it doesn’t we need to ask Congress to step in.”
Some legislators say that deadline might be too soon to judge the
ultimate success of the restoration plan.
Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk says other federal cleanup efforts came
after several reports and years of waiting. Congressman Kirk says the
prospects for the restoration plan are good. The Great Lakes region has
the strength of eight states standing behind it.
“When you look at the success of the Chesapeake Bay, and then the success
of protecting the Everglades, you see, once you come together with a
common vision, what a unified part of state delegation or in the case of
Florida, what an entire state delegation can do.”
On the other hand, it might be hard to keep eight state governments
focused on a common purpose.
There’s another wrinkle in the restoration plan as well. Canada lies on the other
side of the Great Lakes, and any comprehensive plan will require its
cooperation as well.
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.
Carl Pope is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. (Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club)
Lynn Scarlett is the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior's Office of Policy, Management and Budget.
As the political campaigns get into full swing this presidential election year, the environmental record of George W. Bush is being scrutinized. The big environmental groups are very critical of the Bush administration. In the first of two interviews about the Bush White House approach to environmental protection, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham talks with the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope. Pope and the Sierra Club are critical of the Bush administration’s record on environmental protection:
As the political campaigns get into full swing this presidential election year, the
environmental record of George W. Bush is being scrutinized. The big environmental
groups are very critical of the Bush administration. In the first of two interviews about
the Bush White House approach to environmental protection, the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham talks with the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope.
Pope and the Sierra Club are critical of the Bush administration’s record on environmental
POPE: “The biggest environmental problem this country faces right now is the policies of this
administration. It’s kind of stunning too, when you add it all up, just how much damage they
have quietly managed to set in motion in only three years.”
LG: “Now, we’ve listened to folks in the Bush administration who indicate that what they’re
really doing is bringing some balance to dealing with the economic issues the nation faces and
how it relates to the environmental issues that we face.”
POPE: “Well, let’s look at three trends. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was President, we began
cleaning up toxic wastes dumps in this country with the Superfund. In 2003, for the first time
because the Bush administration both allowed the Superfund to run out of money and allowed
companies to start dumping new kinds of toxins on the landscape, the American landscape
became more polluted. We started going backwards after 20 years of progress.
1972, under Richard Nixon, another Republican, we made a national commitment under the
Clean Water Act to clean up our rivers and lakes. In 2003, because the Bush administration cut
funding for clean water clean-up and because they exempted large factory feedlots from clean
water regulation, EPA had to report for the first time in 30 years America’s waterways had gotten
And finally, in 1902, Theodore Roosevelt, a third Republican, created Grand Canyon National
Monument. And every president since Theodore Roosevelt left us with more of the American
landscape protected than he found it. And in only three years uniquely, singularly and in the
violation of the entire trend of the entire 20th century, this President Bush has stripped
environmental protection from 235 million acres. It’s an area as big as Texas and Oklahoma that
is now open to development which was protected when George Bush became President. I don’t
think that’s balance.”
LG: “I assume that you’re not all that chummy with everyone in the White House these days….
POPE: “That’s a safe assumption.”
LG: …but I’m trying to get an insight into what you think the thinking might be behind some of
the decisions that the Bush administration makes.”
POPE: “Well, in 1970 we made a national compact in this country. It was a national
environmental compact which was: we were environmental optimists and we believed that as a
nation that we could clean up every waterway, we could modernize every power plant and we
could remedy every toxic waste dump. We said as a nation ‘You know, everybody in this country
is going to have water that’s safe to drink. Everybody is going to live in a community where the
air doesn’t give their kids asthma. And we’re going to take time to do it. The federal government
is going to help everybody. And we’re all going to do it as a community.’ I think the fundamental
problem with that compact from the point of view of this administration is the ‘everyone’ part of
it. They really don’t believe that the community should do very much. They believe individuals
should take care of themselves. If you want to have safe drinking water, get yourself your own
supply; buy bottled water. If you want to breathe clean air, move somewhere where the air is
cleaner. They really don’t believe in the idea that every American ought to enjoy certain basic
environmental amenities simply as a consequence of being an American.
And, I think what motivates them is their concern that if it’s the federal government that
is cleaning up our toxic waste sites, then people will have faith in the federal government. And
they don’t have faith in the federal government. In fact, one of their chief advisors says he wants
to shrink the federal government down to a size where he can drown it in a bathtub. And I think
it’s the fact that the environmental compact in this country was based on the idea of an
environmental safety net for everyone that they find antithetical to their view that we all ought to
be tough, we all ought to be competitive, we all ought to be self-reliant and on our own. And
they don’t like the fact that the environmental compact says wait a minute, we’re all in this
together and we’re going to solve it together.”
HOST TAG: Carl Pope is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club.
Some environmental groups have launched a petition drive to oust a top interior department official. However, their prospects of success are questionable. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Wheelhouse reports:
Some environmental groups have launched a petition drive to oust a top interior
official. However, their prospects of success are questionable. Bill wheelhouse
Earth First, Greenpeace and the Common Assets Defense Fund are using an internet
drive to try to get Interior undersecretary, Steven Griles, fired. The groups say
association with the gas and coal industries demonstrates the Bush administration is
However, Michael Kraft, who tracks environmental policy at the University of
Bay, says the effort is unlikely to succeed.
“There clearly will be an effort to gain media attention to highlight what
believe to be unacceptable policies in the Interior Department and elsewhere within
administration and my guess is the Bush White House will find it very easy to
respond to those
criticisms much as they have for the last three years.”
Kraft says the drive might get more attention if larger environmental groups, such
as the Sierra
club, Audubon Society and Wildlife Federation took part.
But even if they did, he says it likely would not affect Griles standing within the
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Wheelhouse.
Some members of Congress feel the timing is right for the long-anticipated federal legislation to help restore the Great Lakes. A bill introduced in the Senate recently proposes EPA monitoring of Great Lakes water quality. Now, a bill being introduced in the House proposes a four billion dollar Great Lakes Restoration Fund. And it has strong political support. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Joyce Kryszak reports:
Some members of Congress feel the timing is right for the long-anticipated
federal legislation to help restore the Great Lakes. A bill introduced in the
Senate recently proposes EPA monitoring of the Great Lakes water quality.
Now, a bill being introduced in the House proposes a four billion dollar
Great Lakes Restoration Fund. And it has strong political support.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Joyce Kryszak reports:
A critical report by the General Accounting Office prompted
Congress to start a coordinated recovery plan. The bipartisan
bill on the Senate side would pay for more reliable monitoring of
water quality. And the House bill now being introduced – also bipartisan –
would supply four billion dollars to help restore the environmental health of the lakes.
The Great Lakes Trust Fund is modeled after a multi-billion dollar
federal plan to rehabilitate Florida’s Everglades. Congressman Thomas Reynolds of New York
is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
“We’ve seen, from increased levels of toxins and bacteria that are
killing wildlife and closing beaches, to invasive species that are
attacking an ecosystem. The Great Lakes need more than help – they need funding.”
Reynolds says he believes the backing is there to pass the legislation –
and that federal help is long overdue.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Joyce Kryszak.
President Bush’s pick to fill a top enforcement job with the U-S Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn his name from consideration. Donald Schregardus faced tough criticism from environmentalists and Democratic senators for his record while he was Director of the Ohio EPA. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston has this report:
President Bush’s pick to fill a top enforcement job with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn his name from consideration. Donald Schregardus faced tough criticism from environmentalists and democratic senators for his record while he was director of the Ohio EPA. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports.
In withdrawing his name from consideration, Donald Schregardus wrote to President Bush that it’s clear the U.S. Senate won’t consider his nomination in a timely manner. Democratic senators Barbara Boxer of California and Chuck Schumer of New York delayed a senate vote on his nomination. The senators and environmentalists say Schregardus failed to enforce clean air and clean water laws while he was head of the Ohio EPA from 1991 to 1999. Schregardus defended his record in the letter to Bush. He says because of his leadership, Ohio is cleaner, and regulatory programs are stronger.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Natalie Walston.