Friday, April 23, 2004

Upbeat environmental reports about President Bush!

Umm, just kidding about the headline here. The one and one-half reports worth mentioning deal with Bush's record to date and his promises for the future.

On his record for federal land preservation to date, this very good article from the San Jose Mercury News (free registration required for viewing) basically says he's the worst president in over 100 years. Bush has established 3 national parks, the fewest established by a president since 1901 (and two of the parks are historical parks with presumably marginal environmental value). Bush has designated 500,000 acres of federal land as wilderness, as compared to Ronald Reagan's dedication of 10 million acres. More specifics in the article, but the idea is clear.

I had thought the Democrats were exaggerating when they argue that Bush is the worst environmental president in history - and they are!! He's only the worst in 104 years.

The not-so-good article that's half-worth mentioning is an AP report carried by the Washington Post, saying Bush plans to recreate, improve, and protect 3 million acres of wetlands. The fine print is that one million of the three million acres is slated to be "protected." The government already has the job of "protecting" wetlands, so that is an empty promise. "Improving" applies to another million, but large improvement projects are already in the works, so he could be taking credit for something already planned. Improvement could also be extremely marginal and still count under his plan. The million new acres could be good, unless he's counting the wetland restoration projects already in the works.

But the kicker is this paragraph: "The Bush administration made it a goal to meet the "no-net-loss" goal of wetlands among each of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 38 U.S. districts - formed by watersheds and not state boundaries - rather than acre for acre, said Benjamin Grumbles, acting head of EPA's Office of Water. " The way I read that statement is that if your particular Corps district is ahead in wetland creation (such as here in the Bay Area because taxpayers forked over $100 million to buy thousands of salt pond acres and convert them to wetlands), then your local developer can rip up all the wetlands he wants without mitigating the damage he's causing. The taxpayers didn't buy those salt ponds to make money for people destroying wetlands. I hope this Bush administration promise is fixed.

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