Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions
for the Bush Administration And Congress
1) Get the foxes out of the hen houses
Clean out the corruption in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and other government agencies. President Bush promised the American people he would have a clean government, yet he appointed people like Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles to high-level positions. Griles is a former energy lobbyist and is running the DOI. He is still receiving $284,000 from his former lobby firm and continues to meet with his former clients. Bush also appointed Mark Rey, a former timber lobbyist, to oversee the U.S. Forest Service. Several other top Interior officials including former DOI Solicitor William Myers and Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke are under investigation for possible violations of ethics laws. The Bush administration should clean up the DOI and protect the integrity of other federal agencies by strictly enforcing the conflict of interest laws and removing appointees who violate them.
2) Put the public back in public lands
The Bush administration repeatedly claims it is committed to working with local communities on land management policies, but in almost all cases the public has been shut out. For example, the Interior Department received over 280,000 comments to protect Yellowstone National Park from snowmobiles, yet the administration continues to push a plan to let nearly 1,000 snowmobiles a day into the park. The administration is also working to gut the U.S. Forest Service Roadless Rule to protect national forest areas uncut by roads or saws – even though over 95 percent of the 1.6 million comments on the Roadless Rule asked for these strict protections.
3) Use sound science – not pseudo science – for decision
Time and time again, the Department of the Interior, Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made decisions not based on sound science, but based on how industry would benefit. The administration did not use sound science to justify snowmobiles in Yellowstone and a dirty coal fired power plant nearby the park. They are weakening Clean Air Act regulations, and in blatant disregard of their own scientific findings, the administration is arguing for continued mountaintop removal coal mining and valley fills.
4) Create a legacy of protected natural wonders, not profit driven blunders
America’s remaining pristine and natural treasures are being chipped away by oil, logging, gas and coal development. The Bush administration and Congress should restore protections to lands proposed or being studied for wilderness protections, instead of encouraging drilling or logging in these pristine areas. In addition, the National Wilderness Preservation System should be expanded to include new areas that merit protections. Native sacred sites and cultural resource areas should be protected, as well as our national parks, which are threatened by outsourcing, air pollution and destructive roads.
5) Reduce our reliance on dirty energy
Last year Congress put together an energy bill with $60 billion in giveaways to the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. We need an energy bill that funds renewable energy and protects our pristine wild places.
7) Protect communities from forest fires instead of shielding timber industry
The administration should promote real solutions to wildfire-threatened communities and properties. But instead, it has issued new rules that completely eliminate environmental review for many logging projects and make it much harder for the public to have a say in public land management. In addition, the recently signed “Healthy Forests Initiative” goes even further in reducing environmental protections for our national forests and reducing public access to the forest planning process, and does nothing to increase protection for communities at risk from forest fires. Community protection projects need to focus on thinning areas directly adjacent to homes, removing the small trees that comprise the vast majority of the fire risk.
8) Back up promises with the necessary funds
Despite a stated commitment to fund important conservation priorities, the Bush administration has starved these critical public lands programs from the funding they need. The administration abandoned the landmark Conservation Trust Fund, a bipartisan program created to provide a dedicated stream of funding to land acquisition, open space protection, wildlife habitat, recreation and historic preservation. The administration has also backtracked on their promise to fully fund the maintenance backlog at National Parks, and has sought steep cuts to a range of other critically important programs. At the same time, they have attempted to prioritize Bureau of Land Management funding for energy exploration over conservation of public lands. The administration and Congress need to fund these key conservation programs.
9) Stop undermining the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The Bush administration should stop undermining the ESA through executive rule changes (such as the recent proposals to cut the Fish and Wildlife Service out of endangered species protection that have to do with forest projects). They should also stop standing in the way of protecting new species. Congress should provide full funding for the ESA listing and critical habitat programs.
10) Conduct your business
in the sunlight – not in the shadows
The Bush administration is one of the most secret executive branches we have ever seen. From its fight to hide who was involved with Cheney’s Energy Task Force to gutting the Freedom of Information Act to the administration’s attack on the National Environmental Policy Act, the administration has repeatedly sought to keep decision-making behind the scenes. Ours is a government by and for the people. All citizens should have the ability to find out what their government is doing and what their tax dollars are paying for.