Corporate polluters pay Bush for job well done

HOUSTON – One day after weakening clean air protections on more than 1,700 old power plants, refineries and other polluters, George W. Bush travelled to one of America’s smoggiest city to raise money. Home to a number of energy giants, including Enron, Houston is currently violating Clean Air Act limits for asthma-causing ground level ozone. In the last three years, Houston residents have been exposed to ozone smog more often and at higher concentrations than residents of any other city in the United States.

Sierra Club members joined with other concerned citizens June 14 in front of the downtown Houston Hyatt Regency to demonstrate their opposition to this weakening of clean air protections that will have a profoundly negative effect on Texas’ air.

“It’s incredibly ironic that one day after weakening the Clean Air Act, President Bush returns to the center of the energy industry to collect more money,” said George Smith of the Sierra Club. “To let polluting energy companies off the hook one day, and then raise money two blocks from Enron headquarters the next, sends a disturbing message to the thousands of Houston children with asthma and other respiratory diseases.”

Bush’s June 13 announcement will weaken “New Source Review,” an important Clean Air Act program that requires antiquated power plants and factories to install modern pollution-control equipment when they expand. Today’s announcement creates loopholes, so that some old facilities will be able to increase pollution without installing modern pollution-fighting technology.

“If anything, Houston is the perfect example for why the Clean Air Act should be strengthened, not weakened,” said Marshall Stair. “Houston residents want nearby industrial plants to clean up their act. But while the Bush administration courts Houston energy executives, they are turning their backs on the health of our children.”