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A Chronology of Environmental Destruction

Even before his inauguration, President Bush began filling critical administration posts with people who had significant ties to polluting industries, people who regard the environment as a resource to be exploited.

In President Bush's inaugural year - as we witnessed a systematic attempt to dismantle many of our nation's fundamental environmental protections - we thought we had seen the worst. But in 2002, our "polluter in chief" was busy again!

What's ahead for 2003? 2004?

Please help Friends of the Earth fight back against even more harmful and regressive tactics from the Bush administration.

Bush Year One:
The Onslaught Begins

Inauguration Day, January 2001
Within hours of becoming president, Bush freezes action on former President Clinton's "roadless" policy, which would have protected 58.5 million acres of national forests from encroachment by cars, trucks and off-road vehicles.

February 2001
President Bush nominates Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior. Norton formerly worked with one of the most anti-environmental organizations in the country, the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

March 2001
Bush abandons his campaign promise to regulate power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that scientists consider a major cause of global warming. The administration also calls for "more study" of safe amounts of arsenic allowed in drinking water, and later ignored the study results.

April 2001
The Bush administration enters into negotiations with the snowmobile industry about reversing a ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. At the same time, the administration announces it will weaken the requirement to make air conditioners, which are a huge consumer of electricity, more energy efficient.

May 2001
Bush releases his energy plan, calling for increased reliance on oil, coal and nuclear power, and cutting the budget for energy efficiency research and alternative power sources by nearly a third.

June 2001
Interior Secretary Norton abandons plans to reintroduce grizzly bears in the Selway-Bitterroot Ecosystem of the Northern Rockies in favor of an official position of "no action."

July 2001
EPA Administrator Christine Whitman goes to federal court to seek an 18-month delay on the Clinton-era ruling under the Clean Water Act requiring states to develop plans for pollution runoff. The administration says they intend to change the rules and have since been taking input from industry sources.

August 2001
The House of Representatives passes the Bush energy proposal, including plans to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Interior Secretary Norton, an ardent drilling supporter, "mistakenly" asserts that local caribou herds breed primarily "outside the refuge."

September 2001
Bush presses Congress for an enormous ($15 billion) bail-out package for the airline industry, but lets more modest proposals for energy efficient rail projects languish by the wayside.

October 2001
The administration takes away the Interior Department's power to veto mining permits, even if the mining would cause "substantial and irreparable harm" to environmental, cultural or scientific resources. The department itself reverses key Clinton-era requirements for mining operations, including environmental performance standards.

November 2001
The Army Corps of Engineers unilaterally issues guidelines that allow developers to severely undermine a national policy of "no net loss" of critical bogs, swamps and coastal marches around the country, a policy set out under the first President Bush.

December 2001
Bush and Republicans in Congress fight to pass an "economic stimulus package" that proposes $2.4 billion worth of tax breaks, credits and loopholes for General Electric, Chevron, Texaco and Enron.

Bush Year Two:
The Onslaught Continues

January 2002
Bush fast tracks a disastrous plan for oil and gas exploration that gives a green light for 26-ton "thumper trucks" to begin rolling through Utah's Dome Plateau desert.

February 2002
Bush proposes a deceptively labeled "Clear Skies" plan that ditches regulations governing emissions of three major pollutants—mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—in favor of setting voluntary targets. This feeble answer to the Kyoto Protocol doesn't even require industry to reduce outputs of carbon dioxide.

March 2002
The head of regulatory enforcement at EPA steps down on the grounds that the EPA is now "fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce."

April 2002
The Senate passes a version of the Bush energy plan that scuttles an increase in fuel efficiency standards and supports more domestic production from coal and other polluting sources.

May 2002
The administration clears legal hurdles so mining and construction companies can dump waste into streams and rivers, including waste generated after coal mining companies literally rip the tops off mountains.

June 2002
The Bush administration announces a plan that would gut a key part of the Clean Air Act that requires America's oldest, dirtiest power plants and refineries to install pollution control equipment when they expand.

July 2002
The White House admits the greenhouse gases that cause global warming will increase under their approach but still refuses to force industry to cut emissions of those gases.

August 2002
Bush proposes logging legislation that would waive environmental analysis, appeals and judicial review of timber sales. The administration claims the bill is needed to combat wildfires, even though it will focus on remote logging operations, not areas near at-risk communities.

September 2002
Bush administration officials announce plans to rewrite Clean Water Act regulations in order to remove many wetlands, streams and other "isolated" waters from protection under the law.

October 2002

Data from the EPA reveals a sharp decline in enforcement of environmental laws under Bush's watch. The agency has initiated nearly 50 percent fewer enforcement actions against polluters than it did under President Clinton.

November 2002
The Bush administration overturns a ban on snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park. In a public comment period during the Clinton administration, thousands of Americans expressed support for the ban, which was scheduled to begin in 2003.

December 2002
Bush announces a new rule that would gut the National Forest Management Act, the primary law governing management of our national forests. If implemented, the proposed rule would limit public participation, relax environmental assessment requirements and weaken measures protecting fish and wildlife - all easing the way for the timber and mining industry to exploit national forests.

Bush Year Three:
And the Onslaught Continues

January 2003
Bush announces plans to weaken standards used to determine whether tuna is caught in a way that harms dolphins. Under the administration's plan, fish caught by encircling dolphins with dangerous "purse seine" nets would be deemed Dolphin Safe, rendering the Dolphin Safe tuna seal meaningless.

February 2003
The president's 2004 budget slashes funding to the EPA for clean water infrastructure by nearly 40 percent.

March 2003
The Bush administration finalizes a rule overturning a Clinton-era decision to phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, despite acknowledging the adverse effects on wildlife, air quality, noise levels and human health.

April 2003
Interior Secretary Gale Norton signs a deal with the state of Utah allowing the development of thousands of "rights of way" on public lands. This land grab effectively opens the door to the paving of roads in national parks, refuges and wilderness areas across the country.

May 2003
The administration releases a long-awaited assessment of the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. The study predictably concludes that mountaintop removal devastates the environment, but the administration's response is to further loosen restrictions on the coal industry.