MSNBC's Contessa Brewer yesterday was discussing George W. Bush's plan to let the EPA rule against cleaning up perchlorate from Americans' drinking water, even though its toxic effects are well documented.
Even John Feehery, the "Republican strategist" brought on to explain this last-minute ugliness, admitted:
Once again, I don't know the specifics of this particular one, but it doesn't really sound good, does it, Contessa?
Brewer later returns to Feehery and asks:
Brewer: John, do you think there should be some shame in a president doing something like this? It reminds me of the big scandal that erupted when Clinton was leaving office with all the pardons. You know, why are you gonna do something in your -- the very last few weeks that just ... makes you look bad?
Simple answer: Because George W. Bush doesn't care what you think. He never has.
If you want more information on Bush's vandalism of the American political landscape on his way out the door, check out the Pro Publica site with a complete rundown.
Its first entry is on perchlorate:
At Issue: Perchlorate is a chemical component of rocket fuel that can contaminate water both naturally and, more frequently, through improper disposal at rocket test sites, military bases and chemical plants. Cleaning it up would cost billions of dollars. But the contaminant has been linked to thyroid problems in young children, pregnant woman and newborns, leaving critics concerned for the developmental health of those most vulnerable to the chemical's effects.
Here's the EPA's official justification:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted extensive review of scientific data related to the health effects of exposure to perchlorate from drinking water and other sources and found that in more than 99 percent of public drinking water systems, perchlorate was not at levels of public health concern. Therefore, based on the Safe Water Drinking Act criteria, the agency determined there is not a "meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction" through a national drinking water regulation.
But as Brandon Keim at Wired reports, this is a classic skewing of methodology to achieve a predetermined outcome:
Critics accuse the EPA of ignoring expert advice and basing their decision on an abstract model of perchlorate exposure, rather than existing human data.
"We know that breast milk is widely contaminated with perchlorate, and we know that young children are especially vulnerable. We have really good human data. So why are they putting a model front-and-center?" said Anila Jacobs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. "And they used a model that hasn't yet gone through the peer-review process."
The ruling is one of dozens planned for the final days of the Bush administration. Others include a relaxing of air pollution standards for aging power plants, and a reduction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's traditional role in evaluating the impact of federal projects on endangered species.
These have received more attention than the status of perchlorate, a chemical found mostly in jet rocket fuel and detected in 35 states and 153 water public water systems. It is known to lower thyroid hormone levels in women; it poses a particular threat to pregnant women and breast-feeding children, whose long-term neurological development can be stunted by youthful hormone imbalances.
As many as 40 million Americans may now be exposed to unsafe levels of perchlorate, and the EPA's own analysis puts the number at 16 million. The most comprehensive human exposure study, which measured unexpectedly high perchlorate levels and correlated them with thyroid hormone drops, was concluded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2007.