Bush strips for coal industry executives

Although President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and invasions have been highly publicized and debated, his all-out war on the environment has gone largely unnoticed. On nearly a bi-weekly basis, Bush proposes a weakening of environmental rules to the cold-hearted glee of special interests. This is occurring at such a rapid-fire pace that it is difficult for even the most diligent citizen to keep track.

The latest Bush attack, to the benefit of the coal industry, is a proposal to weaken laws governing mountaintop strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. The mining involves dynamiting mountains and dumping the wastes into nearby valleys and streams.

As one would expect, the effects of such a technique are devastating. Already, mountaintop removal has leveled 1,200 miles of fertile Appalachian landscape into a parking lot wasteland. Current law forbids such practices within 100 feet of a stream. In many instances, the law has been the last resort in protecting Appalachian streams and valleys.

Bush wants to create a loophole in the rule to allow mountaintop strip mining near streams, provided mining companies prove they have made some attempt – no matter how lame – to respect the buffer zone.

Self-government is rarely effective in protecting the environment. Weakening mountaintop mining regulations grants free reign to coal companies, which would allow irreparable harm to the streams and valleys of the Appalachians.

Bush’s latest environmental proposal would be another grave mistake. It might be easy to overlook the carnage the president has wreaked upon environmental laws, given the static atmosphere of terrorist-baiting and class warfare, yet this does not make his actions less deplorable.