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Don't waive protections.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Leave it to the chronically opportunistic Bush administration and its supporters in Congress to take advantage of a national crisis to further roll back environmental protections.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who presides over the Senate environment committee, has drafted a bill that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and  to suspend any law governing air, water or land in responding to Hurricane Katrina Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. .

This mischievous, unnecessary proposal would allow the administration to bypass laws and regulations not just in the hardest hit states of Louisiana CODE, OF LOUISIANA. In 1822, Peter Derbigny, Edward Livingston, and Moreau Lislet, were selected by the legislature to revise and amend the civil code, and to add to it such laws still in force as were not included therein. , Mississippi and Alabama, but also in "any affected state." Presumably pre·sum·a·ble  
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster.
, that includes at least all 41 states where Bush has declared disaster areas as a result of the storm - and possibly more. (What state, including Oregon, couldn't claim that its gas prices aren't affected?)

Make no mistake, a few environmental laws will have to be suspended in Katrina's aftermath. The EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.

eicosapentaenoic acid

EPA, See acid, eicosapentaenoic.

 and state governments already have eased some clean air regulations to allow the burning of debris, suspended clean fuel requirements to help control skyrocketing gas prices and waived clean water protections to allow the pumping of polluted floodwaters from flooded New Orleans.

For the most part, these suspensions have been necessary and narrowly targeted to meet specific emergencies. But Inhofe's proposal would allow wholesale waivers of environmental standards across most of the nation over a 120-day period, which the EPA's administrator could extend up to 18 months.

Such sweeping authority is unnecessary. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson recently told senators in a closed-door session that environmental laws were not hindering his agency's ability to clean up the mess caused by the hurricane. After Inhofe introduced his bill, however, EPA officials changed their stance and declared that Inhofe's proposal was essential to the recovery effort.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are trying to build public support for dismantling environmental regulations in the Gulf Coast region - and reassign responsibility for the federal government's botched botch  
tr.v. botched, botch·ing, botch·es
1. To ruin through clumsiness.

2. To make or perform clumsily; bungle.

3. To repair or mend clumsily.

 response to Katrina - by blaming environmental groups for the damage caused by the storm.

At the request of Inhofe's committee, the Justice Department recently began investigating whether legal challenges by environmentalists obstructed improvements to levees in southeast Louisiana. Last week, Justice officials sent e-mails to U.S. attorney's offices throughout the Gulf Coast region asking for information on cases involving "environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps' work on the levees protecting New Orleans."

Here's what the gumshoes from Justice will discover: Environmentalists filed a legal challenge nearly a decade ago not to actual levee levee (lĕv`ē) [Fr.,=raised], embankment built along a river to prevent flooding by high water. Levees are the oldest and the most extensively used method of flood control.  improvements, but to an Army Corps of Engineers' plan to drain 11,000 acres of wetlands in order to obtain construction materials. The levees in question were not the ones that were breached in the city's flooding but were located more than 100 miles from New Orleans. Ultimately, the project was delayed not because of litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.

When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation.
, but because of a lack of funding allocated by Congress.

Instead of engaging in the same "blame game" they accuse Democrats of playing - and instead of seeking a blank check Blank check

A check that is duly signed, but the amount of the check is left blank to be supplied by the drawee.
 to waive environmental laws across the nation - Republicans in Congress and the administration should focus on protecting the public health in the beleaguered be·lea·guer  
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.

2. To surround with troops; besiege.
 Gulf Coast and across the rest of the nation.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; After Katrina, environmental rollback proposed
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 20, 2005
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