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George W. Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency: A Midterm Appraisal

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During the first 2 years of his presidential term, George W. Bush matured as a political leader and neutralized many of his harshest critics. A glaring exception to this characterization is the area of environmental policy. The Bush administration adamantly refused to advance a meaningful strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to commit the United States to the Kyoto Protocol. At the same time, a number of highly public disputes compromised the legitimacy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This appraisal reviews the Bush administration's performance midway through its first term across three pivotal environmental concerns: air pollution, climate change, and toxics remediation. Though environmental proponents denounced the U.S. EPA's provocative policy positions, there are no indications that this criticism has had much political impact. The assessment concludes with an examination of the politics behind the Bush administration's growing anti-environmentalism and some speculation regarding its future electoral implications.

Keywords: American environmental politics; Bush administration; Clear Skies; Kyoto Protocol; Superfund; climate change; environmental policy; global warming

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Graduate Program in Environmental Policy Studies, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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