Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Now They're After All Your Food

Way back when I wrote about the federal assault on organic food content.   It can be seen in the archives below. The assault continues, but now it is about the content of all foods.

On this Thursday, March 2, there will be a vote on H.R.4167, the so-called National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005.  The full text is here.  The proposed legislation will do away with the regulations of individual states providing warnings and labelling.  The Toledo Blade provides a better description than I could.

The Toledo Blade:

Toledo Blade Link

DESPITE their professed disdain for "one size fits all" laws, Republicans in Congress are ganging up with potentially dangerous legislation that would require uniform food-labeling regulations in all 50 states.

Such a federal law could be misleading or pose a hazard to consumers, who are now protected by the kind of individual state regulations that, in Michigan, for example, require a warning about possible allergic reactions to sulfites in bulk food. Or an Ohio regulation that forbids the use of the word "honey" on a food label unless the product actually contains honey. ...

Such labels and warnings on store shelves and in advertising would have to gain approval of federal regulators, and might be rejected, under the disingenuously titled "National Uniformity for Food Act," sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan. The measure has 225 co-sponsors, including a few Democrats, in the House of Representatives.

Opponents contend that the real motive behind the proposal, being pushed by the food industry, is to dilute California food-labeling regulations, which were approved by voters in a ballot initiative back in 1986 and are more stringent than federal rules. This is a reasonable and not unduly alarmist conclusion. In nearly every instance pitting consumer protection against industry interests over the past five years, the Bush Administration has sided with industry.

This requires our immediate attention.  Here is a link where you can send an e-mailed message.  Or you can call 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073 and ask for your legislator.  Thank you for your help.  


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bushco Sacrificing the National Parks?

Proposed revisions to the National Park Service management plan may allow commercial activity and increased recreational useage.  The many revisions remove some of the language arising from the original 1916 legislation.


The new guidance is a "radical rewrite of management policies" that lacks "a clear statement favoring conservation," said Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, a Virgin Islands Democrat and ranking member of the subcommittee. "This reinterpretation of the National Park Service's core mission cannot be justified."

The core intent of the plan originates in federal legislation of 1916 that established the National Park Service.  Conservation was to take precedence.

Critics point to the removal of language stating that Congressional intent of the 1916 law that created the National Park Service - and subsequent court decisions - recognize that conservation is predominant when there is a conflict between conserving resources and values and providing for enjoyment of the parks.

Instead, the new language reads, "The service must balance the sometimes competing obligations of conservation and enjoyment in managing the parks."

Other changes and language in the document appear to loosen controls on noise and commercial activities within the parks and allow increased recreational activities such as snowmobiling as well as the use of off-road vehicles and personal watercraft.

Of course the management plan requires revision periodically, but this proposal goes back to an April 2002 request from then (House Parks) committee chair George Radanovich (R-California), a request arising a short time after the last revision of 2001.  Prior to 2001, the plan was revised way back in 1988.

And recent testimony before the House Parks Committee yielded this:

But one witness told the subcommittee that the Bush administration's transition team was keen on revising the document as early as January 2001 - only two weeks after its release.

During the testimony, National Park Service Deputy Director Steve Martin confirmed that there were concerns but indicated that the final version would reflect that agency's primary obligation to protect the parks.

But not all were so easily convinced.

But Martin struggled to convince Democrats on the panel that the process was not being driven by the Bush administration.

Also testifying was Bill Wade, chair of the council of the Coalition of the National Park Service.  Mr.Wade directly questioned Bush administraton motives for the changes.  He did not mince words.

The new document makes management guidelines " more vague and unclear than what is currently in use," said Bill Wade, chair of the executive council of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

Wade, a 32 year veteran of the Park Service and former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, said the broad opposition to the proposal from nearly all except the recreation industry reflects suspicion of the Bush administration's political motives.

"The basic issue is trust, and frankly we have some concerns about the trust of the current leadership of the Interior Department and the National Park Service," Wade told the subcommittee.

"They have ignored science, research and scholarly analysis in parks.  They have ignored the preferences of the American people," Wade said.  "We have little confidence that they will pay much attention to the comments currently being received from the public on the draft policies unless they are the comments they want to hear."

Here is a link to a site with Wade's testimony as well as other relevant  materials. Link

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bush Seeks $1billion Selloff of Public Lands

President Bush's proposed 2007 budget includes provisions for the sale of almost $1 Billion worth of public lands. The proposal is intended to raise funds for the federal treasury, or more specifically, to replace funding for rural roads and schools eliminated from the 2007 budget. If Congress approves, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management would have mandatory sales targets, something never seen before.


The proposed numbers are truly staggering.

The administration has set its sights on selling over 300,000 acres of Forest Service land in 32 states and more than 500,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands in the West.

While the sale of public lands is not without precedent, looking to such sales as a source of substantial revenues breaks new ground.

The FY 2007 budget gives the BLM a $182 million revenue target over the years from 2007 through 2011. Then, in the years 2008 through 2016 the BLM's mandatory revenue target is an additional $351 million.  

Leshy said lands approaching the size of the state of Rhode Island would have to be sold off to meet the 2007-2011 targets. "It's bad policy," said Leshy. "Federal lands are our natural heritage and they should not be used as a cookie jar. It is clear that Americans want more land conservation not less."

In the past, sales of public lands have been done on an as needed basis in the interest of making agency management easier.  Typically it was done with cooperation at the local level. But that is not so here.

At a press conference Tuesday organized by the Wilderness Society a former solicitor with the U.S. Department of the Interior, and professor of law at University of California-Hastings said the BLM routinely makes adjustments in land holdings, buying and selling small parcels in consultation with local communities. But John Leshy said the FY 2007 budget mandates a different process, "not locally driven, but driven by money targets." "This process is top down, and it doesn't cut local communities in," he said.

So, tax cuts will be made for the rich while federal agencies will be made to sell the very thing they protect, for want of adequate funding.

The list of potential sale parcels is here.

This outrageous proposal requires our input.  Please call your Congress Critter at (888) 355-3588 and state your ample disgust.

Wilderness Society Link  

Detroit News Link

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Amnesia is Bliss / SOTU? What SOTU?

Remember this?

Beware White House Link

...Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest.

I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. ...

If you do remember this portion of last week's SOTU, you cleary have far better recall than fearless leader. In the 2007 budget, Mr.Bush abandons his statements above. Apparently he figures that the average American has the attention span of a spoon, and likely isn't taking note of the 2007 budget anyway. After all, SOTU was a whole week ago.

Instead, the 2007 budget goes in the opposite direction, adding to expenditures that were to be reduced according to SOTU statements.


The Wilderness Society stated that the President had abandoned a decade-long commitment to protecting public lands.

Despite the President’s acknowledgement of America’s "addiction to oil," in his State of the Union address, the budget assumes the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge will be leased to oil companies for $7 billion, the conservation group said.

The budget also proposes an unprecedented $46 million boost in funding for the Bureau of Land Management oil and gas program – from $88.9 million appropriated in FY 2006, to $135 million requested for FY 2007 - $12.4 million of the increase is for Alaska North Slope activities, both in the Arctic Refuge and elsewhere. The BLM estimates that it will process nearly 12,000 drilling permit applications in 2007, up from 3,892 processed five years ago.

Even some Republicans were disappointed by the budget. The group Republicans for Environmental Protection stated its dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms.

Republicans for Environmental Protection said President Bush’s inclusion of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling revenues in his proposed 2007 budget "grossly contradicts the call in his State of the Union speech to reduce America's addiction to oil."

"The administration's speedy retreat from the president's oil addiction statement and the assumption of Arctic Refuge oil drilling in the president's budget make it clear that when it comes to oil, this White House is more about getting a fix than fixing our energy problems," said REP Government Affairs Director David Jenkins. "The rhetorical bait-and-switch illustrated just how much control that big oil interests have over the president's agenda."

Whew, somebody better get these guys a copy of the relevant Republican talking points. These contrary Republicans go further and actually look to the best interests of the country. < gasp >

"Let's hope that in a challenging election year, Congress will reject the president's special-interest energy agenda and actually pursue the public's best interest," Jenkins said. "To retain control of Congress, our party must move beyond a shortsighted energy agenda designed to prop up oil industry profits. It must pursue more forward-thinking energy solutions that protect the American people."

REP Link

Special interest agenda?!!! Best interests of the public?!!! Radical language from Republicans.