5. ANTI-ENVIRONMENT LOBBYISTS WILL NO LONGER BE MAKING ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
The chair of the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) serves as the president's key environment policy adviser. Under Bush, that position has been held by James L. Connaughton — whose previous job was lobbying against environmental regulations on behalf of a client list that included the Chemical Manufacturers Association of America. In fact, during the Bush years, the CEQ and its staff has been dominated by former anti-environmental lobbyists, and has seen its staff, budget, and relevance drastically reduced.
In 2004, a Bush oversight committee that included some anti-environmental lobbyists was presented a plan — carefully drawn up by an official governmental advisory group — for preserving the old-growth habitat of the endangered Northern Spotted Owl. The politically appointed committee chucked the scientific findings of the scientists and ornithology experts, and declared that preserving the habitat is irrelevant to saving the species — let the owls find somewhere else to live. That fight has been ongoing, with the Bush administration continually seeking to reverse environmental protections on the owl's habitat, put in place under President Bill Clinton, in order to increase logging.
Of course, sometimes the governmental regulators aren't former lobbyists — sometimes they are simply having sex and doing blow with current lobbyists. Curious? During most of the Bush administration years, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) strangely failed to collect billions of dollars in royalties from the oil and gas companies, thus allowing the entities to enrich themselves off the resources within public lands and waters. Why? It seems, as we learned this year from the department's inspector general, that the MMS staff in charge of collecting those royalties was involved in a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" with representatives of those oil and gas companies. A few of the staffers have been disciplined; meanwhile, the under-collection of royalties — money that is supposed to support conservation funds — continues.
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