Chris Bathurst, director of the Northampton chapter of Clean Water Action, a national environmental group, believes the Bush administration's record on environmental protection is so dismal that if its full scope can be revealed to the public, "The environment could be a major campaign issue next year."
..."That's a real worry, although we do hear concern from people when we [fund raise] door to door," says Christopher Bathurst, director of the Northampton chapter of Clean Water Action, a national environmental group.
...Bathurst, of Clean Water Action, notes that his group helped lobby a few years ago for regulations in Massachusetts to force older utilities, like the Mount Tom power station in Holyoke, to clean up or shut down.
At the time, advocates claimed six older power plants in the state were responsible for as much as 65 percent of some airborne contaminants in Massachusetts.
"I think this change [to New Source Review] is a big step backward," says Bathurst
."We now have state laws on the books that would supersede it, but it still leaves us hostage to whatever dirty air drifts in across our border."In fact, Massachusetts and eight other Northeastern states have filed lawsuits to try to block the Bush administration's proposed new rules on older power plants.
"This really has to be looked at as a public health issue," says Bathurst
, who notes that there are growing incidences of respiratory problems - particularly soaring asthma rates - across the country, which many doctors and health specialists link to air pollution.
..."There's a real effort underway here to shut out the public and stifle debate, to let industry call the shots," says Bathurst, director of the Northampton chapter of Clean Water Action.
group intends to make the environment a campaign issue.