Polluters for Bush

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Published May 5, 2004 6:08PM (EDT)

Bush-Cheney '04 uses the terms "Rangers" or "Pioneers," honorific titles which describe the rugged supporters who've raised at least $200,000 or $100,000 respectively for the president's reelection efforts. But there's another name for 10 of these fund-raisers: "The nation's top polluters."

According to a new report from Public Citizen and the Environmental Integrity Project, called "America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Plugged into the Bush Administration," 10 of Bush's so-called Rangers and Pioneers are from the 30 biggest utility companies (or their trade group) that own 89 of the power plants that produce the most sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and mercury pollution in the country.

Since 1999, these companies have given a total of $6.6 million to Bush's presidential campaigns and the Republican National Committee. And the lobbying and law firms they've hired have given another $3.4 million, producing another 23 Rangers and Pioneers.

The two nonprofit groups link the administration's gutting of the Clean Air act to the polluters' close ties to the White House. They report that representatives from those same companies and trade groups had no fewer than l7 meetings with Dick Cheney's energy task force, helping to shape the administration's industry-friendly policies.

Eric Schaeffer of the Environmental Integrity Project, who directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Regulatory Enforcement until 2002, said in a statement: "It is no coincidence that a wholesale assault on the Clean Air Act is taking place today. This attack is part of a campaign by a White House that understands what the industry wants and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen."

Dan Riedinger, a spokesperson for Edison Electric Institute, an electricity industry trade group fingered in the report, responded: "This is a thinly-veiled public relations ploy seeking to smear industry and the Bush administration, while masking the fact that air quality continues to improve."

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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