The Bush administration got its way on the Clean Air Act and on missile defense today. As far as the Clean Air Act goes, the rules governing manufacturers and power producers are going to be relaxed significantly. The issue here is that when modifications were made to existing plants, they had to be reviewed by the EPA to make sure that the producers weren’t upgrading old, polluting plants without improving the pollution control. The administration spin is that plants were not upgraded with pollution-reducing equipment so that the owners could avoid red tape, so relaxing the rules enables frees the plants for upgrades. Of course, the rules already allowed pollution-reducing upgrades to plants, so the issue is that producers want to keep running old, pollution-producing plants without expensive upgrades to reduce their environmental impact. The people who run the plants are unabashedly thrilled with the rule changes, so that alone is proof that they’re not good for the rest of us.
The other big Bush administration news is that today the ABM treaty expired, clearing the way for us to waste billions of dollars rolling out a missile defense system that won’t work, and following on with even more expensive systems that probably also won’t work. We’re going to break ground tomorrow on a site in Alaska for an initial system that is going to be “better than nothing” according to the pro-missile defense crowd. Unfortunately, it’s going to cost significantly more than nothing as well — 60 billion dollars. The Pentagon is also moving to classify more information about missile defense testing so that the “enemy” (the US public and media) won’t know about our capabilities (or lack thereof). Anyway, we’re supposed to have a system fully deployed by the end of 2004, regardless of the fact that there’s no way we can implement a system that resembles something that is in any way effective by then.
I just hope that the public remembers great successes like these in the year 2004 when we have to pick our next President.