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  Features:
How to Stop the Bush Administration? Start Talking.
Going Beyond Green
  Partnerships Program Builds Bridges
Victories to Savor
Is Your Relationship In Trouble?
The Energy Plan That Could Be
  (If only they’d allow some environmentalists to help write the rules.)
How to Protect National Forests When Your President Won’t
Family Planning Yields Results In Ecuador
2003 Year in Review Calendar
   
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One-Minute Activist
 
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The Planet
Is Your Relationship In Trouble?
Seven Danger Signs.

by John Byrne Barry

It’s a new year, time to take stock of your relationship with your president. What’s ahead? A ring—or couples’ counseling? How did it feel seeing him over the holidays? What do your friends think?
Check out our seven warning signs and see how your relationship stacks up.

1. He says one thing, does another.

He tells you he is going to reduce air pollution, but his administration allows old, dirty power plants and refineries to expand without installing modern pollution-control technology. He tells you he is going to protect communities from forest fires, but it’s actually a ruse to open up national forests to logging. He warns you about high mercury levels in fish, but won’t recommend tighter controls on mercury emissions.

2. He won’t introduce you to his friends.

Actually, he won’t even tell you who his friends are. His energy task force,chaired by Vice President Cheney, drafted a national energy plan in secret in 2001. Lobbyists from the fossil fuel industry participated in these meetings, but consumer and environmental groups were shut out. And two years later, despite lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and others, we still don’t know who the task force members were.

3. He lets his friends make a mess and not clean up after themselves.

He allows polluters to break the law and go unpunished. For example, in November, in what was essentially a presidential pardon for polluters, the administration announced it would drop cases involving 50 plants and refineries that had violated the Clean Air Act. The administration also refused to reauthorize the "polluter-pays" provision of the Superfund toxic-waste cleanup, forcing taxpayers to pay cleanup costs. He is the first president in history not to put a Superfund trust request in the budget.

4. He spends your nest egg and plunges you into debt.

And of course, this means cuts in natural resource spending, cuts in enforcement of environmental laws, and so on. One small example: The EPA cut by one-third the operating budget of Energy Star, its highly touted energy conservation program, that gives a federal government seal of approval for energy-efficient refrigerators and other appliances. And he gives no incentives for existing technologies that would clean up power plants or make cars more fuel efficient.

5. He tells you everything is fine when it isn’t.

After 9/11, the White House instructed the EPA to hide potential health risks in Lower Manhattan from the World Trade Center collapse. The EPA said the air at ground zero was safe to breathe, despite the presence of high levels of benzene, lead, mercury, PCBs, and asbestos.

6. He doesn’t believe in using birth control.

Domestically, he’s pledged to increase funding for abstinence-only sex education programs, where contraception is only discussed in terms of failure rates. On the international level, the administration rescinded $34 million for family planning programs abroad. It also brought back the Reagan-era "global gag rule," which bars international family planning organizations that receive U.S. funds from using their own money to provide abortions or even talk about abortions with their patients.

7. You want a hybrid; he wants a Hummer.

Not only that, his administration gave a $100,000 tax deduction to small-business owners who purchase sport-utility vehicles, including Hummers.


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