September, 26 2002                   Ken Midkiff 573-256-5705

Sierra Club Profiles 25 Communities Left At Risk
By Bush Administration’s Environmental Policies

As documented in a Sierra Club report released today, these communities, while miles apart, are being left at risk by Bush Administration environmental policies that expose Americans to more asthma-triggering soot, growth-retarding lead, cancer-causing arsenic, and other contaminants.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Ken Midkiff, Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign Director. “America’s clean air, clean water, and toxic cleanup protections have led to three decades of environmental progress. Now the Bush Administration is making policy changes are putting the health and safety of families and communities at risk.”
The report, Leaving Our Communities At Risk, chronicles twenty-five communities across the country where the Bush Administration is jeopardizing family health and safety by weakening our most basic environmental protections, and includes a detailed profile of Herculaneum, MO. There are citizens present from that community, and they will be asked to tell their stories about how the emissions from this smelter have impacted their health, and the health of their families and neighbors.

Other profiles highlighted in the report include:
“Abandoning our most important environmental protections puts families and communities at risk, and only benefits corporate polluters,” said Midkiff. “Instead, our environmental protections should be strengthened and our environmental enforcement should be increased.”

The Bush Administration is weakening the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program by letting it wither due to lack of funding. Since its inception, the Superfund program has been funded by the 'polluter pays' tax, an excise tax on oil and chemical companies and a corporate environmental income tax. When Congress amended Superfund in 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the polluter pays tax into law. President George W. Bush is the first president since Superfund’s inception to oppose the polluter pays tax that prevents shifting the cleanup burden to taxpayers.
In June, the Bush administration announced sweeping new regulatory changes in the Clean Air Act's New Source Review program that would undermine 30 years of progress in cleaning up America's air. Under these new rules, some 17,000 power plants, chemical plants, steel mills and other major sources of pollution can expand or modify their facilities and increase emissions without modernizing air pollution controls.

Federal clean air protections, toxic waste cleanups and environmental enforcement initiatives have been critical in protecting American’s health and safeguarding our environment. According to one EPA study, the Clean Air Act prevented 205,000 premature deaths between 1970-1990; and in the past two decades, the Superfund law has cleaned up more than 800 toxic waste sites in communities across in the country, freeing residents from the health risks and fears that come with living next to toxic waste.

Leaving Our Communities at Risk is available online at: