ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr.

17 12 2008

MR. KENNEDY’S CLASS IS NOW IN SESSION

My first article I would like to lead off with here is a re-post from RFK Jr. It is all about the EPA, exactly who’s “Driving that bus” and what were they smoking when “they” came up with this “leadership” roster?!

Since RFK. JR. won’t be stepping up to the plate to offer to head up the EPA or take a liking to the NY Senate seat (once occupied by his father) I think it is fair to assume that RFK, Jr. will be holding steady as a steward for our greater good and continue to do what is best and what has been working for him… which is to camp out on the doorsteps of the ones who are poisoning our children’s inheritance and/or to spoil what we have to appreciate now in our environment.

Thank you and I look forward to building something really meaningful with you all here…

— Jack Mosel

Contributing Editor

Today’s Lesson Is: 

Texas Chainsaw Management

Vanity Fair
May 2007

Spinning the revolving door between government and business as never before, the White House has handed more than 100 top environmental posts to representatives of polluting industries. The author provides a biographical sampler–and describes a devastating rollback of three decades of progress.

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The verdict of history sometimes takes centuries. The verdict on George W. Bush as the nation’s environmental steward has already been written in stone. No president has mounted a more sustained and deliberate assault on the nation’s environment. No president has acted with more solicitude toward polluting industries. Assaulting the environment across a broad front, the Bush administration has promoted and implemented more than 400 measures that eviscerate 30 years of environmental policy. After years of denial, the president recently acknowledged the potentially catastrophic threat of global warming, but the words have no more meaning than the promise to rebuild New Orleans “better than ever.”

Most insidiously, the president has put representatives of polluting industries or environmental skeptics in charge of virtually all the agencies responsible for protecting America from pollution. Some egregious officials are now gone, often returning to the private sector whose interests they served. But the administrators who remain in place continue to carry the torch—people such as Mark Rey, a timber-industry lobbyist appointed to oversee the U.S. Forest Service; Rejane “Johnnie” Burton, at Interior, a former oil-and-gas-company executive in Wyoming, who has failed to collect billions on leases from oil companies active in the Gulf of Mexico; and Elizabeth Stolpe, a former lobbyist for one of the nation’s worst polluters, Koch Industries, who is an associate director (for toxics and environmental protection) at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

This trend is consistent across all of the departments of government that pertain to the environment: the Department of Commerce (which regulates fisheries); the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and the Interior; the E.P.A.; and even the relevant divisions of the Justice Department. More than 100 representatives from polluting industries occupy key spots at the federal agencies that regulate environmental quality. The revolving door between business and government—turning the regulated into the regulators—has never before spun so fast. And as a consequence environmental protection has been advancing backward on a broad front.

Consider Jeffrey Holmstead, who for four years was a top official in the E.P.A.’s Office of Air and Radiation. Before going to the E.P.A., Holmstead had worked for the law firm Latham & Watkins and represented one of the nation’s largest plywood producers, seeking to diminish pollution controls. In 2004, Holmstead ushered through new regulations exempting wood-products manufacturers from air-pollution rules governing formaldehyde. According to the Los Angeles Times, Holmstead’s new rule “relied on a risk assessment generated by a chemical industry-funded think tank, and a novel legal approach recommended by a timber industry lawyer.”

Or consider the career of Camden Toohey, who in 2001 was appointed to be the special assistant for Alaska by Gale Norton, the secretary of the interior from 2001 to 2006. Toohey, who was previously the executive director of Arctic Power, the chief lobbying group in the campaign to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, oversaw Interior’s Alaska operations until resigning, in January of 2006, to take a job at Shell, where Norton now serves as senior legal adviser.

And then there is Charles Lambert, a former lobbyist for the beef industry, now a deputy undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture responsible for marketing and regulatory programs. In June 2004, The Denver Post reported on an exchange between Lambert and Representative Joe Baca, a California Democrat, at a hearing on the issue of mad-cow disease:

“Is there a possibility that [the disease] could get through?” …
Lambert answered, “No, sir.”
“None at all?,” Baca asked.
“No,” Lambert replied.
“You would bet your life on it—your job on it, right?”
Lambert answered, “Yes, sir.”
The disease was discovered in the U.S. six months later.

Reports in The New York Times and on 60 Minutes have highlighted the case of Phillip Cooney, who was the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. His job was to advise the president on the environmental implications of decisions that he makes. Cooney’s previous job had been as the chief lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. His preoccupation during his four-year White House stint, according to news accounts, was combing scientific documents issued by the various federal agencies in order to remove damaging statements about the oil industry and the coal industry. He suppressed or altered several major studies on global warming in order to protect the interests of his former clients. After the Times revealed the alterations, in 2005, Cooney left his job and went to work for ExxonMobil.

It can be a fine thing to have businesspeople in government, when the objective is to recruit competence and expertise. But high-ranking officials such as the ones cited here, and scores of others, have entered government service not to serve the public interest but rather to subvert the very laws they are charged with enforcing.

Under the Bush administration, the big polluters, as the author and activist Jim Hightower has pointed out, have eliminated the middleman. “The corporations don’t have to lobby the government any more. They are the government.”

The Top 12:

Ann Klee (2001–6), general counsel, E.P.A.; counselor to Interior secretary Gale Norton
Prior to her government appointments, Klee was a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis, where she worked for clients from the transportation, mining, timber, and waste-management industries on cases involving the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and Superfund.

J. Steven Griles (2001–4), deputy secretary, Department of the Interior
While employed at Interior, Griles, a former lobbyist for coal, oil, and gas interests, negotiated payments of over $1 million from National Environmental Strategies, a lobbying firm in which he had had a principal interest. Griles’s tenure was described by an inspector general as an “ethical quagmire.”

Lynn Scarlett (2001–present), assistant secretary, then deputy secretary, Department of the Interior
Scarlett was previously president of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank. In a 1997 article she wrote, “Environmentalism is a coherent ideology that rivals Marxism in its challenge to the classical liberal view of government as protector of individual rights.”

Gale Norton (2001–6), secretary, Department of the Interior
Norton served two terms as Colorado attorney general before joining a Denver law firm, where she represented numerous developers and lobbied for NL Industries, a paint manufacturer which has been the target of a dozen lawsuits alleging lead poisoning and has been a defendant in lawsuits involving 75 toxic-waste sites.

Richard Stickler (2006–present), assistant secretary, Mine Safety and Health Administration
As reported by The Charleston Gazette, Stickler “worked for BethEnergy Mines of Pennsylvania for 30 years, worked briefly for Massey and then headed Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Deep Mine Safety from 1997 to 2003, when he retired. Stickler’s mines had accident rates twice the national average.”

William Wehrum (2005–present), acting assistant administrator, E.P.A.
Wehrum is a former Latham & Watkins lobbyist specializing in Clean Air Act issues. He was involved in crafting lenient rules for power-plant mercury pollution in which a dozen paragraphs were taken from a Latham & Watkins memo.

James Connaughton (2001–present), chairman, Council on Environmental Quality
Previously a partner at Sidley & Austin, Connaughton represented General Electric and arco in their Superfund toxic-waste fights with the E.P.A.

Jeffrey D. Jarrett (2006–7), assistant secretary, Department of Energy
Prior to his work in government, Jarrett spent 13 years in the coal-mining industry. In March, he returned to the private sector when the Coal Based Generation Stakeholders Group hired him as its executive director.

Francis S. Blake (2001–2), deputy secretary, Department of Energy
Blake played a key role in formulating Bush’s controversial Clear Skies legislation, meeting with dozens of energy-industry lobbyists in closed-door sessions. Blake has since been named chairman and C.E.O. of Home Depot.

William Gerry Myers III (2001–3), solicitor, Department of the Interior
Myers has compared federal land-use regulation to “the tyrannical actions of King George.” After leaving Interior, Myers rejoined Holland & Hart, where he represents several extractive-industries clients.

Rebecca W. Watson (2001–5), assistant secretary, Department of the Interior
Watson had a lengthy legal career helping mining- and timber-industry clients. She has ties to the anti-environmental groups Defenders of Property Rights and the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Thomas Sansonetti (2001–5), assistant attorney general, Department of Justice
In previous stints at Interior, Sansonetti was involved in the Exxon Valdez settlement and the infamous spotted-owl litigation. He has worked as a lobbyist on behalf of mining and energy interests.

Additional reporting by Brendan DeMelle.

Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-governmental organization that promotes clean water throughout the world.

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

Okay… There’s something screwy with this picture… We all know it.. We are all hoarse over screaming about the inequities from the past evisceration our country has gotten over the previous 8 years… What the HELL are we going to do about it?!

As Mr. Obama prepares his cabinet… Let’s see if we can help in a selection for this high post. Let’s hope to GOD that there is a real reckoning coming about in this office of environmental stewardship (Formerly known as the EPA).

Y’know “Made in U.S.A.” used to mean something at one time, not too long before our government fell under a FASCIST COUP!… If we were to manufacture a product or service that actually saved energy and possibly embraced a real alternative fuel (Sorry Mr. BUSH Switchgrass and Ethanol is another ENRON ENDRUN for you and your cronies)… If we could manufacture energy efficient alternatives and think way out of the box…. The trickling down from that kind of economics would bail us out of a real mess and would employ from within the U.S. and make Made in the U.S.A. mean something again… Sorry corporate raiders from the Reagan deregulation era… The jobs need to  stay here and the unions are gonna get back into the fold… Somebody’s gotta keep these out of control, overpaid CEO’s and Washington politician’s in check!!!

Last thing… Ross Perot mentioned something that bears repeating in an “I told you so” style… Remember we were warned about the “sucking sound”??? Hmmmm. Trickle Down Economics ran down my leg, “Trust but verify” is B.S.!!! and “The Decider” is code for DICTATOR!

The last 8 years started with the ENRON LOOPHOLE, (THANKS BUSH) Let’s end the ‘rein of terror’ we’ve endured by throwing criminals in a different ‘hole’, like the BRIGG!

We need serious vigilance now in this transition stage and we need to keep our eyes on BUSH, CHENEY and ROVE as they try to re-write the treachery they brought upon our country and do it NOW while they still wield the burning Constitution in thier hands! I heard today that Karl Rove is “coming out” in a new book which has names and situations to begin the pre-pardoning for themselves as early as possible…

Do these people really think that we are stupid… ? (Don’t answer that…) More realistically however, will our new administration hold these criminals to account for their high crimes? Part of why I said yes to contributing to this blog is because I’m so damn mad at the lies and the enemy combatants from within (Fugitive Rove), that I will do what ever I can to keep the home fires burning in the hopes that there are more real Americans out there just waiting for the Koolaid to wear off long enough to take back our country from this Fascist Coup!

1/20/09 = “Party like it’s 1999!”

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5 responses

17 12 2008
» ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr. « RFK Jr. News White House On Best Political Blogs: News And Info On White House

[…] 101 With RFK Jr. « RFK Jr. News Posted in December 16th, 2008 by in Uncategorized ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr. « RFK Jr. News Reports in The New York Times and on 60 Minutes have highlighted the case of Phillip Cooney, who […]

17 12 2008
US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr. « RFK Jr. News

[…] ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr. « RFK Jr. News But the administrators who remain in place continue to carry the torch—people such as Mark Rey, a timber-industry lobbyist appointed to oversee the U.S. Forest Service; Rejane “Johnnie” Burton, at Interior, …. Browse news by date … […]

17 12 2008
Environment and nature » Blog Archive » ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr.

[…] Read the rest of this superb post right here […]

18 12 2008
Dr. kathleen Hoekstra

You’ve wrapped it up pretty neatly, Jack. Let’s hope we don’t get drowned in a sea of blather, excuses and outdated, discredited economic philosophy again in the next administration. As promising as it looks at this point, we’ll still need to keep our eyes open and our minds clear as the new players take over.

24 12 2008
coal mining accident | Digg hot tags

[…] Vote ENVIRONMENT 101 With RFK Jr. […]

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