George W. Delivers

When it comes to government policies, George W's administration tells us that "everything changed" on September 11. But not quite ... one thing that remains constant is Bush & Co.'s enthusiasm for doing special governmental favors for greedheaded polluters.

The latest is a terribly sweet goodie that Bush's interior department slipped to mining industry executives in late October. While the media and the public were focused on the terrorist attacks and anthrax threats, the department's bureau of land management quietly altered its rules so global mining corporations that extract lead, zinc, copper, and gold from our public lands can do so without the fuss of having to worry about the severe contamination that their mining causes to the land, water, surrounding communities, and people.

These corporations, have a nasty record. They've been able to take billions-of-dollars worth of our publicly-owned minerals out of our public lands without even paying royalties or fees to us. Worse, they make a deadly-toxic mess, then walk away from the damage they cause. So a rather modest rule was adopted last year that simply said the interior secretary could veto any permit for mining on our public land if the mine could cause "substantial and irreparable harm" to the community.

Oh, squealed mining executives, this is unduly burdensome, this is excessive, this is not what we want! They needn't have worried though, because, lucky for them, Bush was put in the White House this year, thanks to the help of big campaign contributions from ---- guess who? ---- the mining industry.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Almost exactly nine months after taking the oath of office, George W. delivered for these contributors. An interior department spokesman explained the policy reversal by declaring that it was "not fair" to hold these poor corporations to such a tough standard. Under Bush's new rule, these global mining giants are free not only to do harm to our environment and communities ... but to do "irreparable harm."


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