Statement Of Senator Patrick
On The Senate Floor
"The Greenwashing Of The Bush Anti-Environmental Record
On The President’s Earth Day Visits To Maine And Florida"
Monday, April 26, 2004
Last Thursday I came to the floor to mark Earth Day and to highlight
the laser-like focus of the Bush Administration in rolling back 30
years of environmental protections. When you look at their record it
is breathtaking – literally.
Three years into office, the Bush Administration has taken well over
300 actions to weaken – or gut – environmental protections to clean
the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. They have
taken huge steps to hand over our public lands to timber, oil and gas
companies for more drilling and logging.
With this record, it is no wonder that the Bush Administration
continues to use every page of its public relations playbook to
downplay the effects of these rollbacks.
One of their favorite tactics is announcing environmental rollbacks on
Fridays or around holidays when they think the American public will
not be paying attention. The Administration has announced at least 40
environmental rollbacks alone on Fridays and another 20 on holidays.
When you look at this list of just a few of those Friday actions you
can see why the Administration wanted to sneak them out when they
think the American public isn’t watching.
These rollbacks demonstrate just how far this Administration has gone
in waging its environmental assault – gutting the Clean Air Act,
ramping up logging in some of most spectacular national forests,
dumping more mining waste on public lands and more sewage sludge on
Another favorite tactic is either ignoring or changing the science to
suit their political needs.
One of the most blatant examples of this was the White House scrubbing
of an annual EPA air report to avoid mentioning evidence of climate
Just recently the New York Times
reported on the creative White House fact-spinning of the
Administration’s proposed retreat from strong mercury controls on
course, we all recognize that their favorite tactic is just giving one
of their environmental assaults a green name and hoping the American
public believes it. “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests”
are just about as accurate as “No Child Left Behind.”
The Administration has used all of these tactics when it comes to
misleading the public about wetlands protections. Last January, on a
Friday, the Administration announced one of its most sweeping
rollbacks to take away protections under the Clean Water Act for 20
million acres of wetlands.
The policy created such a groundswell of opposition from hunters,
anglers, environmental groups and others that the President finally
withdrew the proposed rulemaking last December. Unfortunately, what
the Administration did not tell the public is that they were not
revoking the underlying instructions to federal agencies to follow the
same policy that leaves 20 million acres of wetlands at risk.
That is why I found it so interesting that the President would start
his election year attempts to greenwash his Administration’s
anti-environmental record by talking about wetlands.
did get some very nice photo ops walking around the salt marshes and
wetlands of Maine, but when you look between the lines
of his Earth Day announcement you see that it just doesn’t hold water.
While the President was touting his plan to restore 1 million acres of
wetlands, he made no mention of his policy to revoke protection for 20
didn’t tell the folks in Maine that he proposed to the cut the funding
next year for one of the programs – the Wetlands Reserve Program -
that is supposed to help meet his 1 million acre target.
didn’t tell the folks in Maine that his Administration
has not fully funded this program since Congress expanded it in the
last Farm Bill.
Yes, as he said in Maine, the President did indeed sign
the Farm Bill. That is part of his job, but it is quite a leap for
the Administration to now promote that as one of their environmental
fact, the Administration has done everything it can to shortchange the
conservation programs that are so important not only to
Maine and Florida but to every state. He not only proposed cuts to
the WRP, but to other programs that help farmers and landowners
conserve the resources on their land.
When the President went down to Florida the next day, he
also forgot to mention a few key facts – like the fact that the Army
Corps has allowed more than 3,800 acres of wetlands to be drained or
filled in the Everglades.
The Bush Administration has stood by and watched as the Army Corps
continues to sign off on development permits that are destroying the
also argued against Clean Water Act regulation of water being pumped
from urban Broward County into the Everglades.
glance through the 300-plus rollbacks under Bush brings up even more
policies that are hurting the environment of Maine and
Florida. The Administration’s retreat from aggressive mercury
controls on power plants is just the most recent missile in his all
out environmental assault.
Again, the President did get some nice photo ops in
Maine and Florida, but his record on the environment is too mired in
reversals and rollbacks for any greenwash to last for long.
Greenwash – like whitewash – doesn’t stick.
Despite all their public relations maneuvering, the public recognizes
the enormous and long-term affect of these Bush policies on our
environment and our health.
They will mean more pollution in our rivers and streams, more toxics
in our air and less natural resources to pass on to the next
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