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Commentary: Bush weakens environmental safeguards while he can

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

If the mischief as one administration in Washington gave way to another were limited to a few iffy pardons and the random whoopee cushion, the country could live with that. The reality: Expect the iffy pardons, maybe even a whoopee cushion to embarrass a pompous new deputy assistant secretary or two. Expect as well – in fact, it's already under way – an effort to trash environmental rules and practices loathed by the Bushians and their big-business allies.

Make that some Bushians. Others are appalled.

Consider the reaction of the National Park Service's top official in Utah when he found out that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was planning to auction off 51,000 acres for oil and gas drilling close by three parks – Arches, Dinosaur and Canyonlands. "We find it shocking and disturbing," the Associated Press quoted Cordell Roy as saying.

Note to BLM: People visiting the spectacular red-rock national parks of Utah do so largely for the view. Who wants to peer through a scenic arch only to find the vista marred by a field of drilling equipment? The Department of the Interior, parent to both the Park Service and BLM, called for a compromise, but at last report the "drill, baby, drill" contingent was holding firm. Will it be up to Congress to jerk a knot in them?

The national parks, it seems, can't get no respect. If the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency has its way, the parks might also have to put up with such neighbors as coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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