When Christie Whitman was Governor of New Jersey she backed strict enforcement of the so-called New Source rule in an effort to make the air in Jersey less carcinogenic. Now she heads the Bush Administration edition of the EPA. Her staff is vetting the DOE rules proposals pushed by Racicot and Barbour and, if documents leaked to the New York Times are an indication, Christie's EPA is finding them wanting. The DOE proposal would "vitiate the clean air program" one staffer writes. One provision drawing fire from the staff would exempt any upgrade of a plant that had been previously improved within 15 years with the rationale that such a long period is necessary for the companies to recover their previous investment. Since IRS has assigned an 8-year life to plant upgrades most of the energy industry upgrades on that cycle and the proposed regulations would be a lifetime pass
Christie Whitman is no shrinking violet as New Jersey Democrats can testify. Despite all the jokes about polluted New Jersey that circulated when she was nominated to lead the Agency, her environmental record as Governor was exemplary. She hasn't spoken out on the subject. That is not her style. Her agency is calmly going about its job, assessing the impact of the proposed rule change on the air we breath. So why leak the staff review now?
It looks like the Racicot-Barbour steamroller is headed in Christie's direction. She has been there before. They rolled over her with the arsenic regulations. She made the announcement that she was told to make. She set her staff to work to study the level of arsenic that Americans should have to take in with their drinking water and quietly renewed the reduced level that the Clinton Administration had established. It takes a big steamroller to knock Christie down.
The Cheney-Enron energy policy doesn't include clean air. The Bush substitute for Kyoto doesn't include clean air. After all the oil patch big shots just head for their homes in Aspen when the air in Houston gets too thick. The air is fine up there. That is the beauty of America. If the air is unhealthy just pick up and go where its clear and bright and the ski slopes are pristine. Nobody has to live downstream from a refinery in America. Nobody, that is who can afford one of Ken Lay's modest Aspen hideaways.
Mr. Ming says: "Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air, at least not 'til 2004"
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