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Environmental policies under attack

Environmental groups and their fellow travelling liberal members of Congress are beating the drums in a renewed attempt to discredit the Bush Administration's environmental policies.

Fact, reasonableness and reality phase them not at all. They are such victims of their own extreme environmental dogma that they cannot accept any deviation from their beliefs — which they are sure are 100 percent correct.

We must ask, “why is this?” Is this a “religion”? One can only conclude that these people and organizations can exist only on fear, doom and gloom. Every change, rationalization and refutation of a previously held theory is greeted with skepticism, accusation of collusion with industry, favoritism, or dire predictions of calamities.

The creation of fear and placing themselves as champions of safety and protecting an innocent, unsuspecting public is their way of satisfying an ego and generating donations and funding from suburbanites and big foundations. One would think that with our very well educated suburban population such people would be more questioning of any proposition and demand in-depth information before committing to a particular thesis.

Not true — seems it's more fun to be a crusader “do-gooder” than a questioning cynic.

Let's look at a few recent instances.

Arsenic in drinking water — From enviro rhetoric, you'd think we all will be poisoned tomorrow because the new EPA and Bush Administration dared even to hold up for further review (not necessarily rescind) the Clinton EPA's last minute lowering of the allowable parts per million maximum limit for arsenic in drinking water from .05 to .01.

This, notwithstanding that the .05 standard has sufficed to protect health since 1942, plus the fact that this standard, when announced, was set based on a four fold safety factor of 1.08 PPM determined way back in 1903 as the real bottomline for safety.

The need to lower the .05 standard to .01 has never been shown. How much more safety is needed and why? How much will it cost to install the required equipment in city water systems needed to filter to the lower standard? For what purpose? How safe do we need to be?

Endangered species — This Act was passed (irrationally) at a time when it was thought that the diversity of various species of flora and fauna was being seriously affected by “actions of big bad uncaring humans”. No one thought about the effects of normal evolution, survival of the fittest, and whether or not total disappearance (no plant or animal species could ever be allowed to die-out even due to natural causes) would make any difference.

Such a law in the hands of radical enviros and their lawyers has become a major tool in their efforts to stop construction of needed highways, dams and other commercial development. Even now there is a major effort under way by enviro lawyers to use ESA restrictions to prevent pesticide uses completely legal under FIFRA. The Bush Administration's FY2002 budget recommendation has provisions that would limit enviro groups' rights to sue to demand ESA listings of many so-called rare species.

A loud scream is being heard. Salmon and other fish, to hear them tell it, are about to be destroyed.

Ergonomics rule — A highly controversial draconian rule would have required a re-evaluation of virtually every production job in the country and spending by industry, yes even agriculture, of untold sums to assure protection against any activity which might allegedly cause carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive motion injuries. Besides requiring a total revamping of production, the rule would have opened the doors to law suits by the millions for financial or other damages by any imaginative lawyer.

Sort of like the thousands of questionable ‘lower back pain’ workers comp suits — except worse because these ergonomic suits could be filed as class actions.

TMDL's — This rule, already promulgated, if allowed to go into effect will cost untold millions for minimal compliance and it's net effect on lowering agricultural and other stream loading is questionable — and for the most part immeasurable.

Suits have been filed to stop it. However, Congress as yet has been unwilling to attack it under the Congressional Review Act, must less pass outright legislation to rescind it. The Bush Administration has not yet made its move, but enviro pressure is being applied on Congress to allow the rule to go into effect. The need for further drastic clean up of all of our waters is questionable.

These are but a few issues in the agricultural area where ballyhoo and rhetoric are being used to vilify the new Administration so as to make it afraid to redress and rethink rules. SCPA urges all readers to express their concerns to EPA, the President, and the Congress.

Fortunately, a riled-up Congress used for the first time the Congressional Review Act to rescind the ergonomics rule. Enviros and labor unions are still screaming to high heaven over it.

There are dozens more cases where environmentalists are twisting the original intent of environmental laws passed with good intentions in the 1970s to the point of absurdity.

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