Surfrider eNews: Bush attacks environment

*** Bush Wastes No Time in Attacking Coastal Environment

During his first week as President, George W. Bush has launched a heavy “tsunami” attack on the coastal environment. The President’s first move, done within hours of being inaugurated, was to halt (hopefully, only temporarily) the implementation of several new coastal environment related regulations, including ones dealing with polluted runoff and large animal “factory” farms (see http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cf m?newsid=9583).

President Bush and his cabinet have also expressed their desire to drill oil in the sensitive coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). ANWR is America’s “Serengeti” and is the breeding grounds and habitat for what is perhaps America’s greatest collection of wildlife, including polar bear, caribou, wolf, musk oxen, millions of migratory birds and other animals. ANWR is a coastal wildlife wonderland and drilling for oil will bring (as oil drilling has brought to other Alaskan areas) considerable air, water, noise, and light pollution to ANWR (see http://www.savearcticrefuge.org).

In addition to freezing runoff regulations and attacking ANWR, the Bush Administration and their oil industry allies have already begun moving to try to increase offshore oil drilling off the California, Florida, and other state coasts (see http://www.environmentaldefense.org/pubs/NewsReleases/2001/Jan/m_drilling.html).

*** EPA Finally Has a Plan to Reduce Dead Zone off Louisiana Coast

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has crafted a plan to reduce by 50% by 2015 the size and intensity of the Dead Zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. This huge Dead Zone appears annually for several months and covers an area roughly the size of New Jersey and is largely devoid of aquatic life. The EPA’s plan is just a plan at this point and needs local, state and federal cooperation and funding. The Dead Zone is mostly a product of polluted runoff generated by farms in the Mississippi River watershed. More info at http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=9564.

*** California Coastal Commission Out of Decision Making Loop for Coastal Habitat Conservation Plans

The California Coastal Commission (CCC), perhaps California’s most important governmental body with regard to protecting California’s natural coastal resources, will not be part of the decision-making process in shaping the large habitat conservation plans (HCPs) even when the HCPs fall within the coastal zone, as they usually do. This is important because HCPs decide where developers can and cannot build.

The Building Industry Assn., the California Assn. of Realtors, Sempra Energy and San Diego Gas & Electric applied strong and effective political pressure, especially at the governor level, to get the CCC out of the decision-making process of HCPs. This is a blow to the California Coastal Act and California’s coastal environment. More info’s in the Los Angeles Times web site archive at http://www.latimes.com (search by “California Coastal Commission”).

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The Surfrider National Office, with Chris Evans as Executive Director, produces the Surfrider eNews. Mark Babski, mbabski@surfrider.org, is the Editor. For more coastal news, see http://www.surfrider.org/currents.htm