||The Corporate Federal Takeover|
Help Clean The
River and Bay!
|The Bush Administration has powerful ties to the Pulp and
Paper Industry, Monsanto Corporation (the original maker of PCBs), Westinghouse,
General Electric, and other corporations facing billions of dollars in
liability for PCB sediment cleanups across the country.
Is it any wonder that Bush has pulled the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service away from supporting a strong PCB compensation settlement with Georgia-Pacific on the Fox River?
A quick review of high-level Bush appointments, and other high offices, shows a clear pro-corporate, pro-polluter bias. It's obvious who Bush is working for, and it isn't the public.
The following are key conflicts of interest:
Lee M. Thomas --- Appointed as EPA Administrator from February 1985 through January 1989, under the Reagan and Bush (Senior) Administrations. He had previously served as EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response, from 1983-85, a position which included management of the Superfund Program. Currently, Thomas is the President of Georgia-Pacific Corporation. It’s obvious that Thomas would still have strong connections within the current Bush Administration, and he would know exactly how to use his influence within the Superfund and related NRDA programs.
Gale Norton --- Appointed as Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Interior. She manages a quarter of the country’s land, and oversees several departments, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Under Clinton, the Service had been our champion for strong PCB damage compensation settlements.) Norton was a protégé of James Watt of Reagan Administration fame, and a lead attorney with Mountain States Legal Foundation, an infamous anti-environmental litigation group funded by oil and other extractive industries, including the paper industry. She was also national chairwoman of the phony “Coalition for Republican Environmental Advocates,” funded by the American Forest Paper Association (the paper industry’s lobbying group), and numerous other anti-environmental oil and chemical companies. There she worked to oppose the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and in defense of major toxic polluters. As Interior Secretary, Norton ignored a judge’s warning to improve security on the Dept. of Interior’s websites. As a result, the entire Department’s internet use was cut off for several months, crippling communication. (deliberately?) She has neutered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on our Fox River case, allowing them to do only the minimum to save face.
John Ashcroft --- Appointed as Attorney General, to head the U.S. Dept. of Justice. His staff are key negotiators with Fox River corporations for compensation settlements and sediment cleanup. For his prior Senate campaigns, he received $1.7 million from the paper industry and other polluting corporations (including $18,000 from Monsanto) because he opposed funding for environmental enforcement and other environmental programs. He has now slashed the enforcement branch of his department, which may greatly impact our Fox River case. He ordered his staff to obstruct all Freedom of Information Act requests from citizens. His recent policies violate American principles of privacy, free speech, civil liberties, etc. It’s obvious he’ll push for the smallest Fox River compensation and cleanup settlements he can get away with.
Don Evans --- Appointed as Secretary of Commerce. Formerly chairman and CEO of Tom Brown, Inc., a $1.2 billion oil and gas company. Also sat of the board of TMBR/Sharp Drilling. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which controls the country’s coastlines, falls within this oil man’s domain. NOAA is one of the key federal agencies involved in the Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and recent bad settlement with G-P. He certainly won't help us get proper compensation. Most of NOAA's damage assessments and compensation efforts involve oil spills.
Larry Thompson --- Appointed as Deputy Attorney General, under Ashcroft. Had served as Monsanto's in-house counsel.
Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture. Formerly a lawyer with a firm specializing in representing agribusiness giants and biotech corporations. In California, she encouraged policies helping giant corporate farms squeeze out family-owned farms --- so that now, for example, only four companies process 80% of American produced beef. Served on Calgene Inc. Board of Directors, a subsidiary of Monsanto (which gave us PCBs, bovine growth hormone, Terminator seeds, genetic manipulation of our food, etc.) Participated in International Policy Council of Agriculture, Food and Trade, funded by Monsanto, Cargill, Archer-Daniels Midland, Kraft, and Nestle (Perrier).
Lynn Scarlett Undersecretary of Interior despite prior actions as a global warming skeptic and opponent of stricter standards for air pollution.
J. Steven Giles Deputy Secretary of Interior despite prior history as an oil and coal lobbyist.
Linda Fisher Deputy Administrator of EPA despite prior position as a Monsanto Corporation executive. Fisher was one of Monsanto's top Washington D.C. lobbyists between 1995 and 2000. As Monsanto's Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, she represented Monsanto's interest in agriculture, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, environment, finance and trade issues, and managed the company's political action committee and political contribution funds. Monsanto spent $4 million on Washington DC lobbying in 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bennett Raley Assistant Secretary of Interior for Water and Science, though he has called for repeal of the Endangered Species Act. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which implements the Act, is under Interior.)
Mitch Daniels Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Daniels was the vice-president of corporate strategy at Eli Lilly Pharmeceutical company. Eli Lilly and Monsanto developed the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH), which now contaminates our nation's milk supply.
Tommy Thompson Secretary of Health, was a supporter of Monsanto in Wisconsin. He received $50,000 from biotech firms in his election run, and used state funds to set up a $317 million dollar biotech zone in Wisconsin. He was one of 13 state governors who launched a campaign, funded by Monsanto, to persuade Americans that genetically modified crops were safe. As Governor of Wisconsin, Thompson was always a friend of the paper industry and obstructed Fox River cleanup and compensation for many years. Between 1990 and 1997, Thompson received direct contributions of $155,553 from the paper industry for his re-election campaigns, and much more from the insurance industry and lawfirms representing the paper industry. Hidden, soft-money contributions are unknown. (see Thompson Defends Fox River Polluters)
Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense, was President of Searle Pharmeceuticals, a company purchased by Monsanto.
Paul O'Neill Secretary of Treasury, was CEO of Alcoa, the aluminum giant, and previously CEO of International Paper Company, which owns Thilmany Paper and former Nicolet Paper plants in the Fox River Valley.
James Connaughton Chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality. Was General Electric's chief lobbyist arguing against a Hudson River PCB cleanup in New York state.
Friends in High Places
Clarence Thomas Supreme Court Justice. Was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President George Bush, Senior. Not surprisingly, the deciding swing vote giving the Presidential Election to George, Jr. was made by this former lawyer for Monsanto Corporation.
Congressman Mark Green Represents Northeast Wisconsin, as our 8th Congressional District Representative. Green received $63,628 in campaign contributions from the paper and forest products industry for his 1998, 2000 and 2002 elections. Specifically, he received $29,500 from Georgia-Pacific Corporation (formerly Fort James Corp.), $4,000 from Fort James Corporation, and $6,000 from NCR Corporation. (That's a total of $39,400 from Fox River PCB polluters.) In addition, Green received $125,711 during this time from insurance companies, several of which may be asked to cover a portion of the PCB cleanup. Green also received $23,850 from Godfrey & Kahn (a lawfirm which often represents paper company interests in Wisconsin.) Green also received donations from two accounting/consulting firms which are involved with the paper industry and in the Wisconsin DNR's Natural Resources Damage Assessment of the Fox River PCBs (which undercut the federal compensation plan): Deloitte and Touche gave $8,000 and Pricewaterhouse Coopers gave $4,500. Other related donations include $1,000 from the American Chemistry Council, $1,500 from Dow Chemical, and $1,500 from General Electric (GE is currently fighting against large PCB cleanups on the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers). 46% of Green's 2002 funding came from PACs, and 79% of this PAC money was from business sources. He also received major donations from investment firms tied to Fox River paper industries. Green has consistently defended the Fox River paper industry against enforcement of Superfund and Natural Resources Damage Assessment laws. Visit OpenSecrets for more details.
Former Congressman Toby Roth Represented our 8th Congressional District for 18 years. Now works as a Washington Lobbyist and was recently paid $295,000 to lobby for Appleton Papers Inc. and NCR Corporation on Superfund and Fox River issues. He "lobbied and sensitized Members of Congress on the impact of federal and state plans to clean PCBs" from the Fox River.
Related Actions of the Bush Administration
Eliminated EPA Ombudsman Until Bush, the federal government had it’s own version of a “Public Intervenor,” called the “EPA Ombudsman” (except this person was not allowed to sue agencies to force compliance with laws.) This one person was to independently respond to citizen complaints about EPA actions. His power lay in his in-depth investigations which disputed costs, investigated health issues, and exposed pork barrel politics, making him unpopular among EPA officials. The Bush Administration used the same slight-of-hand used in Wisconsin to eliminate the Public Intervenor. Rather than honestly eliminating the office, Bush neutralized the Ombudsman by moving him into the EPA Inspector General’s Office (similar to local Republicans’ moving the Wisconsin Public Intervenor into the DNR, where the office became instantly ineffective.) Rather than move, the EPA Ombudsman resigned in protest.
Superfund Bush cut in half the number of toxic waste sites to be cleaned up across the country. At the same time, Republican’s have consistently blocked the law’s funding source, a surcharge on chemical feedstocks and petroleum (the usual sources of hazardous waste), so the fund is running dry. The loss of the tax forces general taxpayers to pay to cleanup corporate mistakes, and eliminates a lot of the legal leverage the EPA has over polluters. Now that polluters know the agency is cash poor, they’ll be more willing to fight against cleanups and attack Superfund Law as “too slow” (because it’s out of money.) Negotiated cleanups will be much weaker and cheaper. Neighbors of sites without identifiable polluters will continue to be poisoned because no money is available.
Dioxin Report Stifled Bush has continued the years of delay in releasing important health information about dioxin. The assessment was started at the request of industry and a first draft was released in 1985. But they were unhappy with the results and called for a reassessment in 1994, which provided even more proof of harm, so they called for another reassessment which they’ve successfully blocked for several years. Due to widespread dioxin contamination in meats, the report was expected to advise reduced meat and dairy consumption. The chemical, livestock and meatpacking industries gave $1,171,000 to Bush’s campaign.
Environmental Record for more information
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CONTENT BY: Rebecca Leighton Katers
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