As Jake Mohan wisely reminded us earlier this week, George Bush still has a few more months in office, which is plenty of time for him to do some serious harm to environmental protections.
Back in August, the administration proposed tweaking the law to give federal agencies the discretion to opt out of independent biological oversight when considering new projects such as highways and electrical transmission lines. The proposal would also let the feds pass on considering individual projects' global warming impacts on species. Such changes usually take months or even years to accomplish, but by late October, the Interior Department had 15 staffers slamming through some 200,000 public comments (not including another 100,000 form letters) in a mere 32 hours…
Additionally, Bush is pushing changes that will ease pollution limits for power plants, allow factory farms to self-regulate their water pollution, reduce buffer zones around streams designed to protect them from mining waste, and open millions of acres of unspoiled public land in Utah to oil and gas exploration. On the last point, the New York Times writes:
This sort of pillage would be hard to justify even if Utah’s reserves were large enough to make a difference, which they are not… And even if those reserves were worth going after, it would still be essential to protect areas of special cultural, scenic and recreational value.
So don't forget to keep an eye on the Crawford cowboy as he rides off into the sunset, lest he plop an even bigger mess into Obama’s lap than he already has.