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Bush in bed with energy industry

by Loren Moreno, Editor


If there were ever any doubts that the Bush administration is married to the energy industry Crimes Against Nature puts all of them to rest. In his third book on the environment, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. offers a scathing indictment of the George W. Bush’s environmental policy, or lack thereof.

In the first chapter, Kennedy outlines the hundreds of environmental rollbacks spearheaded by President Bush. Kennedy tells the tale of the dramatic undermining of the nation’s Clean Air and Clean Water Acts as EPA administrative rules and regulations reduce them almost to nonexistence. Kennedy blames the “toothless and negligent press” for allowing the Bush administration to operate under a shroud of secrecy. The revelations are sweeping and the Bush administration’s actions appalling, all of which makes Crimes Against Nature one of the most distressing books of our time.


When Kennedy, an attorney and one of the nation’s leading environmental activists, went on speaking tours to promote the book, even Republicans were applauding. At the Round Hill Club in Greenwich, Conn.—a conservative sanctuary that counts both Bushes as members and where former president George H.W. Bush’s portrait hangs high in the foyer—Kennedy reported that he “spoke for an hour…about the way President Bush is allowing certain corporations to destroy our country’s most central values. I pulled no punches, and I got a standing ovation,”said Kennedy.

Kennedy writes that Bush’s assaults began on his first day in office “when his chief of staff and former General Motors lobbyist Andrew Card quietly initiated a moratorium on all recently adopted regulations.” Bush quickly appointed high government posts to lobbyists, lawyers, and CEOs from the oil, coal, and mining industries, including Gale Norton, Jeffrey Holmstead, Spencer Abraham, Condoleezza Rice, and others. Most shocking was the appointment of the former anti-environmental governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman, as director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her EPA pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol—an international effort to combat global warming—much to the dismay of the rest of the world, including already industrialized countries.

Not only do more energy industry CEOs comprise the president’s cabinet than at any other time in history, but Bush appointed hundreds of anti-environmental judges to the federal bench. Consequently, environmental laws are being gutted and officials at the Department of Energy and the EPA are reinterpreting regulations to the benefit of Bush administration corporate clients and campaign donors. Polluting industries, such as coal mining, are being allowed to strip mountaintops and dump dangerous waste in the nation’s streams. Kennedy tells the story of Judy Bonds of Marfork Hallow, W.Va., who was “radicalized” to the environmental cause after “she saw her 11-year-old grandson standing in a creek of dead fish poisoned by mining drainage.”

How do the people responsible feel? Kennedy reports that William D. Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said to his members during their 2002 convention: “You did everything you could to elect a Republican president, [and] you are already seeing in his actions the payback.”

This is just one of many examples Kennedy gives that demonstrates Bush’s close ties to energy industry moguls. For Kennedy, however, Crimes is not just about attacks against a republican administration; it is primarily an attempt to expose policies destined to destroy the environment our children are going to inherit. “I am angry both as a citizen and a father,” Kennedy said. “Sadly, too, few children today can enjoy that quintessential American experience—going fishing with Dad and eating their catch.”

The most appalling revelation comes in Kennedy’s details of the security regulation of the nation’s nuclear power plants. The administration refuses to establish nuclear plants as no-fly zones. Federal law does not require power plant owners to protect against attacks, nor does the government provide such protection. Al Martinez-Fonts, a Homeland security official, offers more backward logic from the Bush administration: “September 11 happened, and they were airplanes that rammed into buildings. And it was no chemical plants that were blown up” (sic). Consider the consequences if al Quiada had blown up a nuclear power plant, or if they were to target one in the future.

Crimes will convince even the staunchest of Bush supporters to think twice. “This book is ultimately about more than the environment,” writes Kennedy. “It’s about the corrosive effect of corporate cronyism on free-market capitalism and democracy—core American values I cherish.” Kennedy does not rely on partisan rhetoric; rather he asserts factual documented evidence, leaving readers convinced that the Bush administration is the puppet regime of rich energy corporations, and as such, is a danger to Americans and the world.

Crimes Against Nature by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.



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