What Your President Won’t
Tell You and Your Neighbors Need to Know
OK, pop quiz.
First question: What did the Bush administration do to weaken the Clean Air
Act earlier this year? The San Francisco Chronicle called it the "most
damaging rollback in its 30-year history."
Yeah, you, in the corner, from Maine.
Right. Bush allowed old polluting factories and refineries to expand without
installing modern pollution-control technology. The rest of you, you knew that,
right? Or sort of knew it.
Second question: The Bush administration has weakened wildland protection in
Over there, in the back, from Oregon.
OK, good. He weakened the roadless initiative that former President Clinton signed
by giving governors the chance to exempt forests in their states. How many of
the rest of you knew that? Raise your hands. Good. Most of you.
So here’s the problem. You know these things, but most Americans don’t.
President Bush has been roundly criticized for his attacks on environmental
protection on newspaper editorial pages, but amazingly he’s managed to fly under the
public’s radar for most of this. The administration makes its onerous announcements
on Friday afternoon when media coverage is lightest. Bush stands in front of
national parks for the TV cameras and speaks soothing words. He calls his weakening
of clean air laws "Clear Skies" and he calls his plan to increase logging
on public lands "Healthy Forests."
Our challenge is to communicate what we know to friends and neighbors and
family who don’t.
That’s what Sierra Club members in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania were
doing in late October—going door to door in Concord, Philadelphia,
and Pittsburgh. Organizers in other states are planning similar outreach
Before the Concord community walk, Kathy Harper, from Keene, New Hampshire,
told the 200 people assembled that ""two months ago I had never done anything
with the Sierra Club. I’d been a member off and on for 20 years, but
all I was doing was reading the magazine. When I got a phone call from the
Club, I felt I had to get involved. I got out into the community, started
talking to my neighbors, and it was really fun."
Important, too. Polls continue to show that people care about the environment.
An October Newsweek poll found that for 55 percent adult respondents, the
environment was "very important" in determining their vote in next year’s
presidential election—33 percent said it was "somewhat important."
We need your help to get the word out so Americans who care about the environment
know what the Bush administration is doing to endanger it. Maybe you can write
a letter to the editor. Talk to your friends and family. Contact your local chapter.
To help you keep tabs on latest misdeeds of the Bush administration and fuel
your outrage, the Sierra Club is launching a twice-weekly e-mail newsletter
Uncooked Facts of the Bush Assault on the Environment." To sign up for it,
go to sierraclub.org/raw. And don’t forget to forward your favorites
to your friends and neighbors.
— John Byrne Barry
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