WASHINGTON – An increasingly concerned Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., denounced the Bush Administration?s decision Wednesday to suspend a Clinton-era rule to protect public lands from the toxic waste of mining companies.
The move, combined with a series of other recent actions, reflects the administration?s clear insensitivity to a range of health, safety and environmental protections, carefully developed over months and years, after public hearings and widespread comment.
Disturbed by the rapid and closed-door decisions to delay, eliminate, and possibly eliminate safety rules, Lieberman indicated his intent to investigate the methods by which the administration?s decisions are being made.
“I am deeply troubled by these efforts to roll back valuable regulations,” Lieberman said. “The administration?s effort to undo years of diligent work that serves our citizens and this beautiful land deserves closer scrutiny.”
The new mining regulation, the first change in 20 years, was published Jan. 20, 2001, after a four-year decision-making process, extensive public comment, open hearings, and consultation with local officials. It was developed in response to pollution resulting from mining activity on public lands.
“This delay is yet another effort by the Bush Administration to turn back the clock on key protections for the environment and for the essential health and safety of the American citizen,” Lieberman said. “It seems to me the administration is leading us in the direction of another ?Silent Spring.?”
The administration has already delayed a host of environment and health and safety safeguards. The list includes regulations that would have:
*supported the public?s right to know about toxic lead releases into their communities
*protected mine workers against toxic underground air pollution
*made our highways and roads safer
*protected wilderness and wildlife areas from degradation
The administration has said these delays are to allow time to decide whether to weaken or reverse the rules. Therefore, these rules are at risk of the kind of reversals we have seen recently in the case of controls over carbon dioxide (the leading greenhouse gas), the arsenic rule, and requirements that contractors abide by environmental, worker safety and other laws.
Lieberman said he plans to query relevant federal agencies about the process by which they are reviewing and turning back these regulations.