Jeffords appalled by Bush environmental policy

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(Host) Senator Jim Jeffords has accused the Bush administration of sacrificing the country’s environment to the demands of special interest groups. Jeffords says recent policy actions taken by the administration represent an unprecedented assault on the environment.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Jeffords’ criticisms of the Bush administration’s environmental policies are the harshest comments that he’s made on this subject.

Jeffords, who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Environmental committee, was appalled when the administration last week granted an exemption to the Clean Air Act that allows older power plants in the Midwest to increase their generating capacity without installing new pollution control equipment. Jeffords says the exemption is not an isolated incident, but accurately represents the Administration’s horrible record on the environment:

(Jeffords) “I just can’t believe it. It’s like talking to somebody a century ago as far as the problems that we have. They don’t just seem to understand anything or that all of the things that have occurred with the environmental pollution are at that matter. I’m just astounded by the direction they’re taking. I can’t believe that they’re going to try to do the things they’re going to try to do.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he’s very concerned that the administration is refusing to recognize the dangers of greenhouse gases and is cutting money for the national Superfund clean up program. Jeffords says there is no doubt in his mind that the Bush environmental policies will result in the premature death of thousands of people:

(Jeffords) “When you get down to the terms of life, you’ll have 20,000 more people dying each year and you’ll have 400,000 additional asthma attacks each year, about 12,000 additional cases of chronic bronchitis each year. Those are real things and you have to deny the ability of all the science we’ve used to measure these things in order to come to any other conclusion.”

(Kinzel) Jeffords says he plans to raise many of these issues when the Senate Environment Committee holds confirmation hearings on the appointment of former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt as the new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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