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Texas Observer EDITORIAL This Way to the Egress hile the Bush administra tion is busy turning our country into a global pari ah abroad and declaring war on low-income fami lies at home, the White House has managed largely to evade any political fallout from its radical antienvironmental policies. Karl Rove knows that surveys consistently show Americans overwhelmingly support environmental protection. So how does the administration push an agenda that trashes our natural resources, increases pollution, and makes us all more susceptible to contamination? One way is through obscure rule changes to environmental regulations that are hard to discover and even more difficult to explain. But the Bushies are more ambitious than that. They have learned as Phineas T. Barnum knewthat the louder and bolder the lie, the more believable it can be. Thus, nearly every day we are subjected to Orwellian sloganeering from the White House. A prime example is the president’s recent State of the Union address. In a glaring admission of how great a liability the administration’s environmental record could become, Bush felt obligated to make green rhetoric one centerpiece of his speech. He highlighted two initiatives: Clear Skies and Healthy Forests. The first relaxes pollution standards, frees industry from monitoring contaminants and permits facilities to duck upgrading environmentally harmful equipment. Healthy Forests allows timber companiesin a taxpayer giveawayunprecedented access to clearcut our national wildlands. Stay tuned for more aggressive attacks on the Clean Water Act, which will probably be called something like the Immaculate Rivers Initiative. When it comes to the environment, for Bush, style trumps substance every time. Time magazine recently reported on a confidential document distributed to GOP governors and congressmen before the mid-term. election that step to neutralizing the [Republican environmental] problem and eventually bringing people around to your point of view on environmental ,issues is to convince them of your ‘sincerity’ and ‘concern.”‘ Clearly it falls to every one of us to expose the reality behind the president’s flimsy green facade. In communities across the nation, Bush’s environmental policies are already having a devastating effect on actual people, but citizens seem unaware. Throughout Texas and the nation we must spread the message with patriOtic zeal how the administration’s excesses are trashing our communities. Everybody from the local chamber of commerce to the PTA is affected and a possible convert waiting to hear the truth. In the Lone Star State, White House policies are tarnishing widely used recreation destinations like Padre Island National Seashore and the Big Thicket National Preserve through the reckless promotion of drilling, logging, and road building. In major cities like Houston and Dallas, parentsparticularly those with asthmatic children would be outraged if they knew that Bush policies permit companies to pollute the air their kids breathe. The administration’s inaction on global warming dooms coastal cities like Corpus Christi as well as West Texas’ parched landscape. The White House’s unwillingness to force polluting companies to fund Superfund clean-up threatens some East Texas neighbor. hoods with a slow, poisonoui death. As Democratic Senator Ralph Yarborough wrote in these pages 40 years ago, “We must not let destructiveness and pollution wipe out a great heritage that is America’s.” JB VOLUME 95, NO. 4 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Co-Editors: Jake Bernstein, Barbara Belejack Session Reporter: Dave Mann Managing Publisher: Jim Ball Circulation Manager: Rosie Bamberger Art Director: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi,Shihah Nye Development Director: Charlotte McCann Legislative Interns: Laurie Alexander, Jessica Chapman, Amber Novak, Emily Pyle, Patrick Timmons Editorial Interns: Rachel Proctor, Emily Rapp Seitz, Allison Stuntz Contributing Writers: Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olssonjohn Ross, Brad Tyer. Staff Photographers: Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum. Contributing Artists: Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocafias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips. The Texas Observer entirecontents copyrighted 02002, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January anc1August \(24 issues . profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin,Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected]erver.org World Wide Web DownHome page: www.texasobserver.org . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. 7-1w Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants front the City of -Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Conunission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in . cooperation utith.the Texas Commission on the Arts. 2/28/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3