Dossier: Air, Land, and Sea

Chlorine plants release an estimated 100 tons of mercury a year in the United States … The Centers for Disease Control has found that 8 percent of women of childbearing age have levels of mercury in their blood that could endanger their offspring … In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eliminated a 28-year requirement that set a cap on mercury emissions from chlorine plants … Swimmers experience 3,500 to 5,500 cases of “highly credible gastrointestinal illness” each year because of improper sewage treatment … According to a 2003 University of Michigan study, swimmers in waterways containing blended sewage are 100 times more likely to develop cysts or diarrhea … As of press time, the EPA is poised to allow the routine release of inadequately treated sewage into waterways as long as it is diluted with treated sewage, a process called “blending” … 1,100 coal-fired power plants account for almost 25 percent of the nation's nitrogen-oxide pollution and 70 percent of its sulfur-dioxide pollution … 30 utility companies own the dirtiest U.S. power plants … Over the last five years, those companies have given a combined $6.6 million to President Bush and the Republican Party …From 2000 to 2002, the number of warnings in which air in U.S. cities was declared unhealthy increased by 32 percent … There has been a 52-percent decrease in EPA clean-air inspections at refineries since 2001 … In the first three years of the Bush administration, EPA data document a 75-percent decline, as compared with the last three years of the Clinton administration, in the number of federal lawsuits filed against companies violating national environmental laws … Civil citations for polluters are down 57 percent since 2001 … Criminal prosecutions have fallen 17 percent in that time … President Bill Clinton designated 9.5 million acres as wilderness … Since taking office, President George W. Bush has designated 530,000 acres of wilderness … The average number of species per year that federal officials added to the endangered species list under George Bush Senior was 59; under Clinton, 65; under Bush Junior, 9.5 … 36 percent of federally protected wildlife species have a designated “critical habitat” … Between 2001 and 2003, 42 million acres of critical habitat were cut from the 83 million acres proposed for threatened and endangered species … The number of foreign species affected by a 2003 Bush administration proposal to loosen Endangered Species Act restrictions on importing endangered species from other countries is 560 … The Safari Club International, a leading proponent of the change, contributed $158,900 to Republican candidates in 2004.