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Whittled Away

U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman handed President Bush her letter of resignation yesterday, citing the desire to spend more time with her family. Whitman, who was frequently at odds with the Bush administration and constantly under fire from conservationists and industry leaders alike, did not mention political differences as a factor in her decision to step down from her post. Her resignation -- which will be effective June 27 -- comes shortly after the White House called on Cabinet members and senior staff to leave now or commit through the 2004 election. In her letter to Bush, Whitman defended the …

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Read U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman’s letter of resignation

Christine Todd Whitman sent the following communication to all U.S. EPA employees on May 21, 2003, the day after she resigned her post as EPA administrator. The communication includes her letter of resignation to President Bush, dated May 20, 2003. To All EPA Employees: Yesterday afternoon, I met with President Bush at the White House and tendered to him my resignation as Administrator of the EPA, effective June 27, 2003. Below is the text of my letter to the President, which expresses my reason for leaving along with my pride in what we have accomplished together. May 20, 2003 Dear …

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Forests Fired

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed President Bush's "Healthy Forests" initiative, which would limit environmental and judicial reviews of proposed tree-cutting projects in the name of preventing forest fires. Approval of the initiative came despite a report released last week by the General Accounting Office that found that, contrary to White House allegations, very few logging projects were subject to significant delays as a result of environmental and judicial reviews. Proponents of Healthy Forests say the initiative would enable the removal of decades' worth of highly combustible underbrush and trees from as many as 20 million acres of public …

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Neverglades

In more bad news for the environment, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) yesterday signed into law a highly controversial plan that will delay cleanup of phosphorus from the Everglades by a decade and, critics say, potentially result in the loss of $4 billion in federal funding for the massive restoration project. Bush -- who said signing the Everglades Forever Act was "the tough choice, but [...] the wise choice" -- asked the Florida legislature to draft another bill to address some of the act's weak points, including language that could dilute the restoration and help the sugar industry evade paying …

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Growl

Along with whales and pandas, grizzly bears are among the most famous and most beloved poster children of the environmental movement. But that hasn't deterred the Bush administration from consistently making land-use decisions that environmental activists say threaten the animals. The administration's actions -- most notably, the halting of a hard-won, Clinton-era plan to reintroduce grizzlies to central Idaho and the removal of some populations from the Endangered Species List -- have undermined a fragile alliance among federal experts and enviros working to protect the bears. The latest blow came last week, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined …

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The Evidence Is Thin

A new report by the federal government has found that very few forest-thinning projects have been stalled by appeals from environmentalists, giving the lie to allegations to the contrary by the Bush administration. The General Accounting Office reported yesterday that the U.S. Forest Service was able to proceed with 95 percent of thinning projects within 90 days or fewer, undermining claims by the White House that environmentalists contribute to forest fires by delaying critical wildfire-protection projects. According to the GAO, 75 percent of projects proposed in the last two years faced no administrative appeals at all, and only 3 percent …

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Pay Dirt

The "polluter pays" principle may be languishing in the U.S. under the business-friendly Bush administration, but it's alive and well in Europe, where the European parliament voted this week to strengthen rules to make companies pay for the environmental problems they cause. Spurred on by the recent Prestige disaster, in which a tanker spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil off the coast of Spain, the European parliament voted to establish common, bloc-wide rules on liability for preventing and repairing environmental damage. The new rules require companies to have insurance or other financial coverage against environmental problems ranging …

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Ban Rollover

Starting up what's likely to be an ugly trade tussle, the Bush administration yesterday filed suit at the World Trade Organization against the European Union, challenging E.U. policies that severely restrict the import of genetically modified (GM) crops. U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick contends that the E.U. has in effect instituted a ban on GM products, which has cost the U.S. agriculture industry hundreds of million of dollars in lost export opportunities. Surprised E.U. officials say there is no GM ban, noting that they have approved some GM crop varieties. The E.U. has taken a go-slow approach to genetic engineering, …

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Republicans for Environmental Protection need not be an oxymoron

In the seven years since I cofounded Republicans for Environmental Protection, officially known as REP America, I have answered two questions more often than any others: "Isn't Republicans for Environmental Protection an oxymoron?" And, "If you care so much about conservation and environmental protection, why don't you become a Democrat?" The first one is easy to answer. No, Republicans for Environmental Protection is not an oxymoron. I can rattle off a list of Republican presidents, senators, representatives, governors, and ordinary citizens who fought hard for the laws that cleaned up our air and water, protected our natural resources, and saved …

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Sonic Doom

At least half a dozen dead porpoises have washed up on beaches in Washington state and British Columbia in the last week, spurring speculation that they were killed when the USS Shoup, a Navy destroyer, used its high-intensity sonar last Monday as it traveled near the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast. Observers reported that as many as 100 porpoises leapt through the water at high speed in an attempt to get away from the sound; about 20 orcas and a minke whale were also seen fleeing. The blasts of sound could have damaged the sensitive hearing of the …

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