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Swimming in Acid: How Corporate Power and Our Government Are Affecting the Environment
an article by Julia Millstein

The PIRGS, Public Interest Research Groups, are non-profit organizations working to promote environmental protection, consumer rights, and good government. The latest report released from the PIRG's, "America's Environment at Risk," details how the Bush administration has allowed corporate polluters to gut many of the laws designed to protect the environment and public health. Residents of New England are at risk of experiencing these attacks on the environment in very local ways.

A case point of this attack is the Bush administration's weakening of the New Source Review. NSR effectively reduced air pollution. NSR requires industries to install pollution controls when they make pollution-increasing plant modifications. After Clinton's major enforcement initiative, industry lobbyists claimed that NSR prevented plants from conducting efficiency upgrades. When the EPA reviewed the NSR more than 130,000 citizens wrote postcards, letters, and e-mails expressing their support. of the NSR.

The Bush administration's proposed changes appear responsible, but actually allow pollution to increase. For example, they place a cap on overall plant emissions, allowing pollution levels to increase unabated until they reach that cap. The extensive changes affect Americans in a variety of ways, from asthma to low visibility in national parks, damaging the tourist economy. The acidity of rain in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont exceeds that of orange juice. In Vermont, acidification impairs 35 lakes, devastating wildlife and damaging maple trees, a $110 million industry.

The Bush administration's changes to NSR and the many other environmental policy modifications it has initiated superficially appear environmentally sound. Science proves otherwise, and Americans must be aware of the full effects of such policy changes. Go to www.uspirg.org and find out how your government is affecting your life, and find out how to defend your right to healthy forests, sustainable economy, and clear air.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


How can polluting industries be made responsible?, Can this be done without government intervention?

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Latest reader comment:

In her article Julia Millstein suggests that we go to www.uspirg.org and find out how your government is affecting our life, and find out how to defend our right to healthy forests, sustainable economy, and clear air.


This report was posted on July 22, 2002.