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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 2, 2002
11:57 AM
CONTACT:  US Public Interest Research Group
Liz Hitchcock (202) 546-9707
New U.S. PIRG Report Documents Summer Vacations At Risk
 
WASHINGTON - July 2 - As Americans fight bumper to bumper traffic, long lines at airports and other holiday hurdles, they may find that their 4th of July plans are at risk from much more serious obstacles, according to a new report released today by U.S. PIRG. America's Environment at Risk details how big polluters have convinced the Bush administration to support policies that will degrade the country's favorite vacation spots, and threaten public health and the environment.

"Americans swimming and fishing at beaches and lakes around the country, hiking in our national parks, and picnicking and playing sports at their local parks this weekend are at risk of losing these simple pleasures and more," said U.S. PIRG Legislative Director Anna Aurilio. "The polluters' assaults on the environment and public health don't just threaten our vacations; they promise to darken our skies, choke our lungs, and pollute our waters," she continued.

U.S. PIRG's report shows that behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny, the Bush administration has allowed polluters like the oil companies, electric utilities, the nuclear, coal and auto industries to water down or completely gut the cornerstone laws designed to protect America's environment and public health. The report documents 16 different ways in which the Bush Administration has allowed the polluters to degrade the environment and compromise public health in states across the country. Specifically, the report finds:

  • The Bush administration recently announced a significant weakening of the Clean Air Act, long-lobbied for by the electric utilities, that could allow dozens of power plants, refineries and other facilities in the Washington, DC metro area to actually increase their emissions of smog- and soot-forming pollution and toxic mercury. Dirty power plants within fifty miles of Washington DC cause an estimated 260 premature deaths and thousands of asthma attacks each year.
  • The Bush administration, at the behest of the timber industry, has failed to implement a rule that would permanently protect the 394,000 acres of forested areas in Virginia that are untouched by roads, including areas in the George Washington National Forest.
  • The nuclear power industry and the Bush administration are pushing through a plan to transport highly radioactive nuclear waste through 44 states, including Washington DC on its way to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. More than 289 rail shipments of deadly nuclear waste will travel alongside commuters and through our neighborhoods in the DC area.
  • Industrial polluters have convinced the Bush administration to weaken the Clean Water Act's program designed to clean up the DC area's impaired waterways. More than 98 miles of Washington DC-area rivers, including the Potomac River, are chronically polluted with sediment, pathogens, and toxic chemicals.

The U.S. PIRG report draws from and expands on reports from a coalition of environmental groups including Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Wilderness Society.

"These are just a few examples of how America's environment and public health are threatened by this unprecedented assault by the polluters," said Aurilio. "This Fourth of July, we are asking the American public to send a loud and clear message: Tell the Bush Administration to stop helping big corporations trample our environmental laws. At a time when the Bush Administration is beginning to talk about corporate irresponsibility, they should remember that their first responsibility is to the American public, and stop letting polluters off the hook."

U.S. PIRG is the national office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy groups.

The report can be found on the web at www.uspirg.org.

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