Monday, May 18, 2009

Environmental destruction under Obama

A blogger friend of mine, Carl, pointed out the astounding juxtaposition of these news stories on Democracy Now (5/18/09). Taken separately and together, it wasn't a good day for the environment.

General Electric Begins Dredging Hudson River
General Electric has begun dredging for PCBs in the Hudson River, twenty-five years after the contamination was deemed a federal Superfund site. GE discharged as much as 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson before PCBs were banned in 1977. The contaminated sediment will be transported by train to a hazardous waste site in Andrews, Texas, near the New Mexico border. The Sierra Club in Texas has opposed the plan. Neil Carman said, “All they’re doing is relocating toxic waste. They’re moving a problem from one location to another [and] creating problems for future generations to solve.” While GE is paying to clean up the river, the company is still challenging the constitutionality of the Superfund law in federal court.

Obama Taps GE Attorney to be Nation’s Top Environmental Litigator Meanwhile, President Obama has tapped a top attorney at General Electric to be the nation’s top environmental litigator. If confirmed, Ignacia Moreno would lead the Justice Department’s efforts to enforce environmental laws and defend federal regulations in lawsuits. Her selection has concerned many environmental groups. Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch said, “It seems as if she has spent maybe more time defending polluters than prosecuting them.”

Obama Administration OKs New Mountaintop Removal Permits
In other environmental news, the Obama administration has given the green light for forty-two more mountaintop removal permits, dealing a victory for the coal industry. Mountaintop mining involves blowing off the tops of mountains to get at the coal underneath. (Democracy Now! 5/18/09)

On the issue of the Ignacio Moreno pick for top environmental litigator, the New York Times (5/15/09) has a good story and also reports the concerns held by the environmental groups.

Obama's decision on the mountaintop removal permits should be seen in light of a campaign speech made in Lexington, Kentucky on August 27, 2007. The following report of that speech is published on Barack Obama's website:

He said the country also needs a forward-thinking energy policy, and he alluded to his disapproval of the coal mining process of mountaintop removal.

"We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels," he said, sparking loud applause.

One view is that Obama is facing pressure from the polluting industries and capitulating. The industry is powerful, no doubt, but I tend to think that Obama is and was a corporate politician and acting accordingly.

No comments: