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Goldenberg reports: "Barack Obama has been just as zealous as George Bush in stripping away environmental, health and safety protection at the behest of industry, it turns out. Some environmental organisations were beginning to suspect this, after Obama over-ruled his scientific advisors and blocked stronger ozone standards. Now, a new report from the Centre for Progressive Reform has dug up some key data revealing that the White House in the age of Obama has been just as receptive to the pleadings of industry lobbyists as it was in the Bush era. And it goes far beyond ozone."

Report Details Obama's Broken Environmental Promises (photo: Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama holds energy efficient lights as he tours Orion Energy Systems, 01/26/11. (photo: Getty Images)



Report Details Obama's Broken Environmental Promises

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

29 November 11

arack Obama has been just as zealous as George Bush in stripping away environmental, health and safety protection at the behest of industry, it turns out.

Some environmental organisations were beginning to suspect this, after Obama over-ruled his scientific advisors and blocked stronger ozone standards. Now, a new report [pdf] from the Centre for Progressive Reform has dug up some key data revealing that the White House in the age of Obama has been just as receptive to the pleadings of industry lobbyists as it was in the Bush era. And it goes far beyond ozone.

Under Obama, a little known corner of the White House - known as the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or Oira - has changed more than 80% of the rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

None of these were changes for the good, the report says.

"Every single study of its performance, including this one, shows that Oira serves as a one-way ratchet, eroding the protections that agency specialists have decided are necessary under detailed statutory mandates, following years — even decades — of work."

Oira was set up by Congress with the purpose of performing a last review of government regulations to see how they would work once they were put into effect. Its current chief is Cass Sunstein, a friend of Obama from his days teaching at Harvard Law School.

In practice, critics say the office operates as a one-stop wrecking machine undoing environmental, health, and worker safety protections that could cause political problems for the White House.

When lobbying Congress and the president fails to delay or weaken a regulation, industry has learned over the years that Oira can be their last best resort, the report says.

"A steady stream of industry lobbyists — appearing some 3,760 times over the ten-year period we studied — uses OIRA as a court of last resort when they fail to convince experts at agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to weaken pending regulations."

The lobbyists were particularly obsessed with trying to undo environmental protections. Corporate executives and indusry lobbyists turned up at the White House about once a week over the last decade to try to delay or weaken EPA regulations, or more than 440 meetings.

The steady stream of oil and coal industry lobbyists to Oira did not end when Bush left office – arguably it turned into a flood. Environmental regulations made up only 10% of Oira business in Bush's time, but 36% of the office's business was meeting with outside lobbyists.

Under Obama, Oira has dedicated more than half of its meetings, 51%, to discussing pending environmental regulations with industry lobbyists, the report says.

And for industry the meetings paid off – about as much under Obama as under Bush. Following those meetings with outsiders, Oira changed 84% of EPA rules during the Bush era. Depending on how you calculate it, the change rate was even higher under Obama. Oira changed 81% of environmental rules after meetings with lobbyists. But the change rate rises to 85% once all Oira decisions on environmental regulations are factored in.

Oira does not make public records of those meetings.

Is there any chance that Obama is unaware of what Oira is up to? Rena Steinzor, the law professor at the University of Maryland who wrote the report, doesn't think so. She notes that Sunstein is a longtime friend of Obama, who has for years advocated against government regulations.

Obama will have to own those decisions – and the failure to live up to his election promises of 2008 to run a government that made decisions based on science and expertise, not political calculus.

"To us this is a sharp departure from what we were promised when this president was elected," Steinzor said. "From sound practice what we really want is for the experts to be making decisions at government agencies – the toxicologists, the pediatricians, the geologists. That's what modern government is supposed to be about, not having the decisions made by an office that is not accountable for what it does."

She went on: "What Obama meant to us, what a transformative presidency meant was that the lobbyists wouldn't control government any more. We would be transparent to a fault. We would run a transparency presidency and we would have very protective rules. We have arguably in this specific case not gotten any of this and it is disappointing."

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+18 # Magars 2011-11-29 22:15
When Obama started negotiate with the same people he criticized during his presidential campaign,once he became president,was obvious that he used us to get to the White House. Sad,of course it is. But this is a reality that nobody can deny it. Now everything is a matter of principles. This is other reason to prove that reasonable people should put aside the fanaticism and pay attention to facts
 
 
+4 # Regina 2011-11-30 01:07
This is sad and bad, but to defeat his campaign for reelection and return a Republican to the presidency would be the ultimate destruction of everything America stands for (except that under the facade, it invites all the corruption and betrayal suffered under both parties' leadership). "Putting aside fanaticism" would be suicidal, not "reasonable." We must pay attention to ALL the facts, including the ultra-extremism of the ultra-right. We may have to grit our teeth this time and reelect Obama, preferably with fewer NO-sayers in the Congress, and hope that when no further election is in his sights, Obama will grow some spine.
 
 
+9 # RLF 2011-11-30 06:42
If the is no price to pay for stabbing the people who elected you in the back, then there is no reason for Dem. politicians to act any other way. Obama sucks and it is time to vote third party.
 
 
+1 # LessSaid 2011-11-30 22:40
Quoting RLF:
If the is no price to pay for stabbing the people who elected you in the back, then there is no reason for Dem. politicians to act any other way. Obama sucks and it is time to vote third party.


This is why the OWS movement needs to run their own candidates and hopefully get them elected. We need more voices to speak in the interest of the 99%. Right now most of the elected officals (Democrats and Republicans) are are brought and paid for by the 1%. Currently, I don't think a third party would take too long to establish. We need to basically take over the Democrats Party the way the TeaBagNuts tried to take over the Republican Party.
 
 
+9 # Lute 2011-11-30 00:16
This is not news. It has been apparent for 2.5 years that Obama is, in Cornel West's memorable words, simply a "black mascot" for vested interests. In other words, a House Negro -- the street slang is uglier -- for Wall Street, other corporate interests. Just look at his appointments to key advisory posts that deal with the financial sector, or at gov't policy re: mountain-top removal, etc.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2011-11-30 06:43
I think he is just another corrupt Chicago machine politician also!
 
 
+5 # mwd870 2011-11-30 07:28
Sadly, a report on Obama's broken environmental promises is no surprise at all.
 
 
+2 # John Locke 2011-11-30 08:51
I believe it's way passed time to take a real hard look at this bum we elected, he is on the payroll of the banks and big corporate interest, and should not be reelected, I believe that the system needs to completely collapse before it can be healed, and the way to speed that process up is to elect the worst Republican there is out there, and the field in that regard is fairly equal
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2011-11-30 08:58
We got changes we can believe in, not what we wanted and needed, but another sell out by a con man, this bum has broken every promise he made to get elected, blocked the investigation of Bush and Chaney over Turtore, sent in Homeland security to kill the Occupy movement, and has trashed environmental laws meant to save the planet and us from extinction, he caved in and through seniors under the bus, by agreeing to reduce or kill benefits under SS, Medicare and medicade ...and now his administration is beating a false war drum over Iran, our next planned war....Big Business as usual and Obama pockets a few million in payoffs...I ask what more can this bum destroy?
 
 
+7 # Dale 2011-11-30 09:28
After the first year or so of Obama I began to think of him as Bush-lite. As time went on and events unfurled he is worse than Bush because he tries to cover the dirtiest of deeds with slick words. He appointed Bush Hawks to Defense and CIA, Bush/Clinton financiers to the FED, Treasury, and his economic advisors... In all Obama is a washout, so a null vote is the only alternative next time around and meanwhile OCCUPY!
 
 
+3 # Magars 2011-11-30 16:50
Correct!!! What's wrong politically and intellectually with the people in denial that don't want to see and accept the sad truth?!
 
 
+1 # Magars 2011-11-30 16:52
Well the people in denial,don't want to express their opinion about this topic.
 
 
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-11-30 09:59
The black man is not Green.
 
 
+2 # Buddha 2011-11-30 10:37
Is anybody surprised by this? Obama has shown himself to be just another corrupt Centrist politician, more than happy to make a deal to get re-election campaign cash. Having his DHS and DoJ coordinate with city mayors to crush Occupy protests shows who he is really beholden to. His campaign promises at ending table-top coal mining and such were just so much smoke. The only reason he still gets my vote is that in our terrible binary choice system, he's still better than what any GOP President would do, which is repeal the entire 20th Century.
 
 
0 # KittatinyHawk 2011-11-30 12:01
Yes, Mrs O seems to not have the brains of most of the First Ladies who worked to actually do things.
The phony Feed the children...was never thought thru if feeding them GMO's is the plan. What kind of water are we going to have, is that safe for the Children? Did she once look at the Air Quality that the plants are grown in or the Children are breathing.
She is very poor first lady and I am not giving Barbie or Sr Bush any credits nor Hilary for that matter. A lesson from the Carters on real caring. A lesson from Gore on Realities. Good read would certainly bring their intelligence level up. But as a Clinton listener, Bush Follower....Mr O doesnot care about the People, the Animals or the Earth, he is a money taker and that is all.
Third Party, or no vote for pres. that simple for me. I will not vote for the lesser of two evils. Satan is Satan, their is no lesser Satan. He like the GOP/TP is a One Percenter, that means he gets no vote.
 
 
+1 # Electricrailwaygod 2011-11-30 19:50
One little known fact: During the Obama campaign, his ONLY campaign visit to San Francisco (which supposedly is a democratic stronghold) He met with his constituents 0 times! NO campaign speeches, NO shaking hands, none of that whatsoever! Instead in his bulletproof limo he went right over to Pacific Heights which is the wealthiest neighbourhood in San Francisco, to some super wealthy corporate CEO for a dinner fund raising party! Only those fortunate to have been in that vicinity at the moment only got a glimpse of Obama! And he is the President "of the People"!? I have my serious doubts! (Still better than Mc Cain, but NOT GOOD ENOUGH)!
 
 
+1 # wrodwell 2011-12-01 12:31
Obama was the last best hope for our irredeemably corrupt political system to justify its existence. Since he and most of the other Washington politicians are products of that system, inculcated in its nefarious ways and means, what can one realistically expect but more of the same? Wake up America! He may be kinder and gentler than the mad-dog Republiscum but his low-key policies in many crucial areas have quietly made him into nothing less than the Brown Bush. Enough already; time to jettison the entire system. Hopefully, hundreds of thousands of protesters will march on Washington and go the needed extra mile by throwing the bums out - all of them - BEFORE the next election. Say goodbye to Congress, the Supreme Court and Obuma. What have we got to lose?
 
 
+2 # MainStreetMentor 2011-12-01 19:31
The truly sad part ...? The Dems are so wrapped up in their political machine that they refuse to put forth another Democrat candidate to run against Obama in the Democrat primary. (I have NO idea who that might have been - Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ... Elizabeth Warren (soon to be D-MA) ...?) Such a vote in the Primary would NOT have split the ticket in the main election - and it would have given voters a choice.
 
 
0 # fobsub 2011-12-02 04:08
A few protesters aren't going to accomplish a thing. How difficult would it be to set out a million strong to blockade wall street, effectively clogging access and shutting it down in the interest of the economic safety of the majority of Americans (the 99%)? Then a couple million to surround the Capitol, again, in the interest of perhaps public safety. Play their game, shut the bastards down. Sure it will mean some sacrifice on our part, maybe a shortage of dog food, corn chips and some electronic gadgets but it will instantly cripple them and we will have their attention. The 99% has all the power, start using it!
 
 
0 # LAellie33 2011-12-05 06:14
Well, well, so many people on the firing squad! If I had to guess, I'd swear I was reading comments from tbaggers on Fox. If you guys REALLY think you have it soooo bad now.......vote for the extremists and watch the earth slip out from under your feet -- destroying America by torture, piece by piece for GREED! But, hey, let's blame EVERYTHING on Obama, even though he's had one of the, if not THE worst evil, divisive, obstructionist presidencies handed to him -- Except maybe for Franklin Roosevelt - when a lot of it wasn't his fault. Who knows what he's planning if he can get a filibuster-proo f democrat congress to "get good things done." We have NO choice -- we must reelect Obama along with tons of Democrats. Let's do what the tbaggers did -- get into office. Except they immediately attacked working class Americans, created voter suppression, stripped unions, prevented jobs from happening, further destroying the economy to defeat the president, refused all of Obama's appointees, refused to even bring up common sense, good bills that Obama wanted, said NO to everything, degraded and smeared his very existence, and that's just for starters! Use your head America, get to the polls and Vote in all Democrats, INCLUDING Obama. Sorry Fox people!
 

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