Editorial: Partners in crime

“Money doesn’t talk,” Bob Dylan observed. “It swears.” Those words are certainly true for the Bush administration and its attitude toward the environment.

Philip Cooney, a senior official at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, resigned June 10 following a New York Times exposé of the latest wrinkle in the long-standing Bush policy of ignoring science to increase corporate profits.

Cooney got caught editing reports on global warming to downplay concerns raised by the scientists that emissions from fossil fuels such as oil and coal are being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, creating a “greenhouse” effect. Before taking the job in the White House, Cooney served as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the chief representative of the oil and gas industry. Now Exxon Mobil has announced he’s going to work for them.

Exxon Mobil is a leading opponent of the Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has refused to ratify. The protocol aims to reduce the level of greenhouse gases created by industrialized nations to 1990 levels over the next decade.

Then there is CHEERS, the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study. The Environmental Protection Agency “partnered” with — took $2 million from — the American Chemical Council to study exposure to pesticides among children under 2 years of age.

CHEERS offered to pay low-income parents in Florida $970 to videotape their toddlers playing around pesticides. The families would also receive a T-shirt, a “bib for your baby” and a calendar.

The appointment of Stephen Johnson as EPA administrator was delayed until he agreed to cancel the CHEERS study, which he did April 8. He was sworn in as administrator on May 2.

In response to public outcry around CHEERS, the House of Representatives voted in May to bar the EPA from doing any studies that test pesticides on humans. President Bush had overturned a Clinton administration ban on such testing but was forced to reinstate it, again after loud public protest. He charged the National Academy of Sciences with developing protocols for human testing but then ignored its recommendations.

“Out of control” does not begin to describe this administration’s despicable, criminal treatment of human beings and the planet we all share.