It's no secret the environmental community has felt wronged by President Bush, whose administration has taken huge steps to reverse, stall or water down environmental laws both fundamental and cutting-edge, from carbon caps to energy policy to endangered species protections.
Then, there are diesel fumes.
It's one area that the Bush Administration has won repeated praise from environmental groups, and last week, the Bush Administration announced its latest effort to clean up some of the dirtiest engines in America. After already having cut back on emissions from small (lawnmowers and the like) and off-road vehicles (think "bulldozers"), the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules to cut pollution by 80-90% from trains, as well as from barges, tugboats, ferries and other sea vessels by 2015.
It will mean dramatically less smog and particulate pollution, particularly in and around ports and transportation hubs.
And environmental groups stood up in a chorus of praise.
These clean air standards will mean millions of Americans will have healthier and longer lives, said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. From trains to ferries, the nation is transitioning to a bold new era of cleaner diesel engines. As today's diesel fleet turns over, diesel engines will no longer churn out suffocating black plumes of smoke.
Now that's a breath of fresh air.
But before you start thinking that Bush is off the hook, even on this issue, consider Earthjustice, which has sued to force the EPA to set rules on other classes of ships.
"This is certainly a move in the right direction," said Sarah Burt, an attorney with Earthjustice. "Unfortunately, these new regulations will only cover engines known as Category 1 and 2 engines those employed on recreational vehicles, tug boats and smaller ships. The majority of the air pollution in this sector comes from Category 3 engines used on cargo ships, cruise ships and large ocean-going vessels. If EPA is to make a significant improvement in air quality in coastal areas, it must set comparably stringent standards for the largest and dirtiest engines, and it must apply those standards to both U.S. and foreign-registered vessels when they pollute in U.S. waters."
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