THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, BRENT BLACKWELDER,
DEBRA CALLAHAN, AND KAREN KERRIGAN
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 1-2, 2001
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Ecological terrorism.
Environmentalism has a new, angry face. In Europe, masked protesters destroy fields planted with genetically modified crops. In Vail, ecological arsonists from the Earth Liberation Front, ELF, burned down a ski resort building, causing $12 million in damage. Earlier this year, on Long Island, the same environmental group claims responsibility for an arson attack at a construction company, the group's 11th action in what it warns will be a continuing wave of sabotage. Quote, "all businesses, large or small, which participate in Earth-raping industries will continue to be targeted as a part of the ELF's ongoing campaign to evoke economic damage to those responsible for urban sprawl," unquote.
FBI statistics show environmental activism to be leading source of domestic terrorist incidents.
Independent analysts like Barry Clausen say that there have been more than 2,000 acts of ecological terrorism perpetrated over the past decade, ranging from deadly attacks, such as the Unabomber's, to economic sabotage, like arson at construction sites.
Question: Environmentalism -- protests within the movement, that is -- used to be rooted in civil disobedience, like anti-lumbering protesters chaining themselves to trees. Why has civil disobedience morphed into violence, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think because some sick and vicious individuals have taken up these causes, and they do so often in very intellectually incoherent ways, and it has become a kind of fashion. It's getting a lot of media coverage.
I mean, John, there's kind of a media double standard here. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, there were a lot of people in the media that were comparing his writings to the, quote, "angry white men," Newt Gingrich's Republican members of Congress. I think that was unfair. I think that it's very -- and I think it would be unfair to connect this kind of terrorism with peaceful, law-abiding environmental organizations that are just trying to advocate their point of view. So I think we need to get a very bright line between the legitimate environmental organizations of all kinds and violent terror.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the exaggerated that the world hangs in the balance gives a special intensity to the eco-terrorists? They feel unless they take some action, some species might be destroyed, and therefore they become irrational. Is that part of why it has morphed into this kind of radicalism, Brent?
MR. BLACKWELDER: No, I think what you have is a few groups that are very fringe groups and not mainstream engaged in acts of violence and so forth. But Friends of the Earth disassociates ourself with that, and in fact we do not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's your organization?
MR. BLACKWELDER: Yes. And we did not participate in the Genoa meeting because while we had important points to stress, we felt that the anarchists were going to take over. And the anarchists have hijacked the right of peaceful protest, which I think is a fundamental free-speech right we cherish. And we are in danger of losing it if that kind of activity persists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see this becoming even more extensive and deadly? You seem to think that it will remain a fringe phenomenon, but is it going to spread, do you think, Deb?
MS. CALLAHAN: Well, I think, first of all, I agree with the point; this is a small number of groups, and mainstream environmental organizations don't agree with what's going on.
Clearly, there is something going on out there. The public, the American public, the world community, is very upset about what they see as not adequately protecting our environment, our natural resources, the public's health and safety. I think that this anger is going to play out in politics.
I think there will be people out on the streets protesting -- the people on the fringe. But beyond that, we're going to see this kind of anger play out in many different ways. And I think it's up to governments to understand there's something going on out there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Deb sees this as almost being spawned at the very grass roots because of widespread dissatisfaction and anger in the populace at large. Do you share that view, Karen?
MS. KERRIGAN: No, I don't. I mean, I think really it's just a fringe -- you know, the fringe that is set aside. I think they're attracting a lot of impressionable youths, young people, into this type of movement. And the folks who train these people really are pushing the edge in terms of their training tactics. And when you have impressionable youth, people who want to rage against the machine, this -- you're going to have these type of radical actions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And --
MS. KERRIGAN: So I think it's going to continue to increase. But I think you could separate the anger of these radical individuals from just people who want a clean environment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And oddly, when they're engaged by counterforce, as they are through police and other forms of law enforcement, they seem to gain more psychological momentum. The Weather Underground used to be relatively quiet, until it encountered that kind of counterforce. Also, the anti-Vietnam movement was the same way.
Well, whatever it is, let's move on to the exit question. Will eco-terrorism turn deadly? Will it get worse, do you think, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: I fear it will get worse. I think particularly these animal rights people who are a real menace in Britain and other parts of Europe, these violent people -- I think it is going to get worse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Deb?
MS. CALLAHAN: I think to the extent that governments aren't addressing international agreements to slow climate change and to do other sorts of things, you're going to continue to see citizens pushing. I think that there's a fringe and radical extreme, but also you're going to see mainstreamers continue to find a way to argue about these problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karen, will it turn deadly?
MS. KERRIGAN: Oh, I think it will, unless the mainstream environmental groups and policy leaders continue to -- and very vocally, on an ongoing basis, repudiate these types of actions to separate from them. I think this could mar mainstream environmental groups.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there also a deficiency on the part of the FBI?
MS. KERRIGAN: (Chuckles.) Well, that's another question. Probably. Probably. I mean, I think this is new for them, and I think they really need to work at finding these individuals and targeting them. They have been on the Internet trying to track these people down, but it's very difficult to do so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if there's a loss of American lives, there certainly will be.
MS. KERRIGAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now there was one loss of life over in Genoa.
MR. BLACKWELDER: Yes, but that probably was an anarchist. And governments have to move forward to deal with anarchists and violent perpetrators, but they've also got to step up to the plate to preserve space for peaceful protest. That is a tradition of free speech in the United States that has greatly benefited our democracy. And so we stand in danger of losing it as a result of the violence, which we at Friends of the Earth and, I think, most major environmental groups absolutely abhor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In those fringe groups, do you sense apocalyptic rhetoric, that the end is near unless we take action? Do you see that in their writings or in their discourse?
MR. BLACKWELDER: In some of their writings there is that. But in some scientific writings, nobody is -- really feels great about the status of ecosystems over the planet. We're losing forest. We're destroying the oceans and so forth. There's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think Al Gore taught us that, didn't he? (Laughter.)
MR. BLACKWELDER: There's a lot of recent -- there's a lot of recent --
MR. BARONE: If you want to, John, you could find similarities in the Unabomber Manifesto and some of the things in Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance." The media, which had applied a standard like that to Newt Gingrich, did not apply it to Al Gore, correctly.
But I think that -- I think it's important for organizations like Deb Callahan's to make sure that they condemn violence. And let's not just say, "Well, these people are really worried about something." Violence is wrong. It hurts people and other living things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have to get out, but you can work in an answer in the next -- in the next --
MS. CALLAHAN: Very quickly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you want to give it now? Go ahead.
MS. CALLAHAN: There are extremists on the right, there are extremists on the left, people in the middle. They're worried about these issues. We need to move forward, and we will repudiate violence at every step of the way, as the right does as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it will turn deadly, and I think it's going to expand.
When we come back: Is Bush right to insist on more research on global warming?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Throw precaution to the winds?
It's called the precautionary principle, and environmentalists want it to replace science and become the new standard for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The current framework for environmental regulation is supposed to rely on scientific risk assessment. The precautionary principle turns this procedure on its head. Instead of having to first prove something is hazardous before regulating it, the precautionary principle says it's okay to take action without any scientific certainty about the need.
Quote, "Policies must be based on the precautionary principle. Environmental measures must anticipate, prevent, and attack the causes of environmental degradation. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation," unquote.
That European Economic Commission declaration is not a fluke. At the third conference on the North Sea in The Hague, delegates pledged to, quote, "continue to apply the precautionary principle; that is, to take action to avoid potentially damaging impacts of substances that are persistent, toxic, and liable to bioaccumulate, even when there is no scientific evidence," unquote.
The precautionary principle is now codified in environmental law in the European Union, Canada, Australia, the United Nations, and all but codified in the U.S.A.
Question: If one country's environmental policy is predicated on scientific risk assessment, and the other country's is predicated on the precautionary principle, how can they reach an agreement? I ask you, Debra Callahan.
MS. CALLAHAN: Well, first of all, the precautionary principle is really about common sense. And it says, "Better safe than sorry." So we're not debating whether you need a hundred percent certainty or whether you want to proceed and set policy with no scientific certainty. The point is, do we have enough science to set a public policy that protects the public health?
So, for instance, even though we're not a hundred percent sure that I am going to get cancer if there's lead in the air from automobiles, did we find there was enough science to phase out lead in automobile gas? Absolutely. That's the precautionary principle. It's common sense. It makes good sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that description of what the precautionary principle prescribes?
MS. KERRIGAN: No, and I don't think countries can reach an agreement when they have those two various approaches to -- well, in the instance of global warming. Really, the precautionary principle says that you are going to take actions, and those actions could be costly, even though you don't know whether or not there's going to be catastrophe or not.
And in fact, I would argue that when countries or government regulators use the precautionary principle, in fact there could be many risks from them moving ahead with government regulations that could work against the public welfare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brent, what's your understanding of the precautionary principle? And are you fully behind it?
MR. BLACKWELDER: We're fully behind it because it's basically the advice our mother gave us: Look before you leap. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You talk a lot, in the precautionary principle school of thinking and advocacy, that it is desirable to work with values, besides scientific assessment. The problem with working with values is that your values may be different from my values. And frequently values encourages bias, prejudice, and acquiescence to myth-making. What about that?
MR. BLACKWELDER: Well, in the first place, science is always an evolving subject. We learn more as we study more. Principles change, theorems change, and so forth. What we need to have is to see the precautionary principle as fundamentally scientifically based, with the humility that we learn more and more as we go through time. And whose right is it to take a risk?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you think of the EU's position on genetically modified foods or hormone-treated beef? They take the view that for reasons of precaution, these are bad. We take the exact opposite view, do we not, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Well, we do, and I think that -- I think what we have to keep in mind is that there are costs to taking things and there are risks in everything that we do in life. So we have to an intelligent balance here. I mean, the bans on genetically modified foods have the potential of reducing the total amount of food in this world and of reducing it -- the amount of food available for poor countries and to fight starvation where it still exists in the world. That is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you see that as a bad result from the application of the precautionary principle?
MR. BARONE: I think, on the basis of what I -- my understanding is of what we know of science right now, we are being too precautionary in this case, and some poor people around the world are paying a high price, potentially, for that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that George Bush is invoking the precautionary principle with regard to human cloning? You ban first, and you regulate later.
MS. CALLAHAN: Well, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow me?
MS. CALLAHAN: Yes, I do, and I don't think George W. Bush is doing a very good job employing the precautionary principle.
I want to go back to a second, though -- when you use the example about climate change and you talk about the precautionary principle, if you play that out, do you want to wait until we have global warming, till we have sea level rise, till we can't reverse this, or in fact do you want to stop while we have an indication that this may well happen? It's such an impending catastrophe that it doesn't make sense not to practice the precautionary principle. Why do you want to wait to see this play out?
MR. BARONE: No, sea level -- sea level --
MS. KERRIGAN: There's --
MR. BARONE: Sea level --
MS. CALLAHAN: There is enough science right now in order make this kind of a --
MR. BARONE: Sea level rise is really way off the charts. I mean, the fact is, we -- you know, we've had climate change going on now for thousands of years, and at least in some parts of the world we can find out what climate change has done and so forth.
MS. CALLAHAN: But we have --
MR. BARONE: And the fact is that the kind of changes in temperature that are projected on any reasonable model don't produce that level of harm.
MS. CALLAHAN: You're not right on them.
MR. BARONE: No --
MS. CALLAHAN: I don't think at all --
MR. BLACKWELDER: But the vast majority of -- you're not a scientist --
MS. CALLAHAN: -- the vast majority of science doesn't support that.
MR. BLACKWELDER: Yeah. Yeah, the vast majority of scientists on the planet have said that we've got to take action. There's not any doubt whatsoever. And the Bush administration agrees.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, there is also such a thing as collective hysteria. What do you think about this? There are three states where environmentalists are trying to force policy changes that have no relationship to science: Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Minnesota. An example is the proposal in Massachusetts law which mandates state officials, quote, "to take action to prevent potential harm to health or the environment, even when the nature and magnitude of the harmful effects are not fully understood," unquote. In other words, ignore known risk assessments, ignore cost-benefit analysis, and take action on whatever values you deem are appropriate.
Do you think that's a good basis for forming public policy?
MR. BLACKWELDER: No, the environmental movement is fundamentally science-based. We want to find out what's going on. And so what we're saying is that people such as you -- maybe you want to take a lot of risks --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I want --
MR. BLACKWELDER: -- but your risk-taking stops where my family begins. I don't want to take them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe I want to see more science and you want to see more, quote, unquote, "values."
MR. BLACKWELDER: No, I want to see more science --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But when you --
MR. BLACKWELDER: -- and I want to see genetically engineered food tested. We're now eating potatoes that are really pesticides, and no one's checked out what eating those things for even a decade will do to you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to take that sitting down, Karen?
MS. KERRIGAN: No, because, I mean, there's definitely trade-offs to using the precautionary principle. I mean, you know, when there are risks involved to the public health, there are welfare losses. When we do in fact stop -- like, for -- on biotechnology and genetically modified food, if we're doing things that are going to better the public and better the public welfare, then in fact we could be harming them by using the precautionary principle.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Long, long on the range.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (administrator, Environmental Protection Agency): (From videotape.) I think the president was right in what he did and, I think, in what he's calling for, in looking at the science to see -- all right, if we agree that global climate change is occurring -- and he has said that -- do we really know how much man's activities are impacting? Where are they impacting, and what -- if we take steps, let's make sure they're the right ones.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do we know what we know about global warming and climate change? The answer is computer models, sets of variables and data created by scientists to try to predict how changes in any factor -- natural emissions from volcanoes or man-made greenhouse emissions, for instance -- will affect the global climate.
Today there are dozens of mathematical weather models in use around the world. The most ambitious, about 20 in total, are powered by supercomputers. These simulations try to encompass not only the atmosphere in oceans but other dynamic features -- shifting polar ice glaciers, forest levels -- to predict how any given change will affect the whole planet.
But with every model, no matter how sophisticated, there are problems. Scientists themselves, for example, can be, quote, "more caught up in trying to show what a great gadget they have than in showing how profound is their study of nature," unquote. So says Dr. Syukuro Manabe, who pioneered the first ocean and air model in 1969. Dr. Manabe is currently designing a $500 million supercomputing center in Yokohama, Japan, that will dwarf all existing climate research projects.
So is Bush right to insist on more research? Yes or no? I ask you, Deb.
MS. CALLAHAN: Yes, more research; however, yes, action now. The United States emits about a quarter of the world's global warming gases, yet we only have about 5 percent of the world's population. We have a special responsibility in this country, A, to address the issue. And B, as one of the innovators in terms of technology, this can be a great economic boon for this country --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you want to impose on the capitalistic system in the United States, on Americans -- why do you want to impose what could cost a trillion dollars to invoke to Kyoto treaty as it presently stands? Correct?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think it's got the potential, by some projections, to cost 4 percent of our gross domestic product by 2010 if we ban the CO2 gases in the way that the Kyoto treaty, which is all -- its terms are designed to benefit the Europeans and hurt us -- is set up. And obviously, that's not a good idea when the National Academy of Science report says: Yes, there has been modest global warming, but we don't know the extent to which human activity and CO2 gases have contributed to it. Yes, let us research that additionally.
Let us also look at the things that Gregg Easterbrook suggested in a recent New Republic article where he talked about cheaper ways to reduce methane emissions, to reduce and to start emissions trading, where we use the market to reduce the total number of things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know --
MR. BARONE: This has been a success in the policies of the last administration, and we ought to do more of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, that's well stated. I'm glad you brought up Easterbrook.
But let me ask you this: The National Academy of Sciences is the report upon which a lot of our thinking with regard to global change is based, correct?
MR. BLACKWELDER: That's one of many reports.
MS. CALLAHAN: (Off mike) -- as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's the most recent, and it's one of the most -- been most widely circulated and saluted. Now Lindzen, who is one of the members of that committee, a renowned scientist -- Richard Lindzen, one of the 11 NAS scientists who wrote the report on greenhouse gas emissions -- he says, quote, "I cannot stress this enough: We are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future." One reason for this uncertainty is that as the report states, the climate is always changing. Changing is the norm. And that happens to be what the -- Dr. Manabe, who's putting together that supercomputer costing $500 million -- he believes exactly the same thing.
Now why do you want to impose a burden on any country through hysterical policymaking when you don't even know what causes the climate changes?
MR. BLACKWELDER: Well, in fact we don't want to impose a burden, we want to impose a blessing. There are obviously ways to use our brainpower and run the global economy on a more efficient and solar basis.
But in fact the president and the Congress are just now running ahead to squander $40 billion of taxpayers' money on subsidizing oil, coal, gas, and nuclear power. Now if you want to see your tax money disappear faster than David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear, watch this program in action!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would you like? Rolling blackouts all across the United States? Do you want comment on this?
MS. KERRIGAN: Sure. Well, 25 years ago, the Earth was cooling. Global cooling was the -- when I was in 10th grade Earth science --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So these are natural cycles.
MR. BARONE: The world --
MS. KERRIGAN: Well, back then --
MR. BARONE: The world was a lot hotter in the year 1200, when Thomas Aquinas was around, than it is today.
MS. CALLAHAN: That's not what the science shows, in fact.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let her go out --
MS. KERRIGAN: Let me finish. Because the same scientists who are saying that, you know, we need to do something, we need to take action now, are saying, "But if there was business as usual, the Earth's temperature would only increase by 0.1 degree Celsius over the next 100 years." So what is the need to rush to do something when there's scientific uncertainty?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Deb?
MS. CALLAHAN: You were talking about Richard Lindzen a moment ago, and he's a very well-known scientist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he a friend of yours?
MS. CALLAHAN: No, he's not, and he's a perfect --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he an enemy of yours?
MS. CALLAHAN: He disagrees with our position strongly.
But I want to go back to an economic point that you made. Since the 1970s this country's reduced their energy use by about 33 percent. We've had the best economy in the history of this country. To say that our economy is going to suffer because we are being more energy-efficient is simply false.
And this -- the science exists; also, the economic analysis shows that this can be a great economic benefit to this country. We've got to get the facts straight, so we can really make some smart decisions, and to keep --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we into conservation now? Is that what we're talking about?
MS. CALLAHAN: Well, yes, but to keep re-arguing the science when in fact the vast majority of scientists --
MR. BARONE: Well, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you taken into consideration that during that same period of time our availability of energy has also increased? But the problem today is caused by an increasing population, plus the computer and its drain --
MR. BARONE: Let's not do something --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BARONE: Let's not do something that's going to cut our GDP by 4 percent. Let us indeed do some precautionary things to study the research, and to get cheaper methods of reducing emissions is a darn good idea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a very quick answer, yes or no, on the following question. Do you think that the environmental movement today is a straight extension of the Democratic Party?
MR. BARONE: Not exactly, but there's a lot of connection there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Deb?
MS. CALLAHAN: Absolutely not. Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they in your organization?
MS. CALLAHAN: My chairman is a Republican --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the ratio of Republicans to Democrats?
MS. CALLAHAN: It's hard to say. We've probably got about a third to two-thirds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes?
What do you think?
MS. KERRIGAN: No. No, they benefit from each other.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no?
MR. BLACKWELDER: All segments of the American public are concerned about the environment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to the question is no, not quite.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the Kyoto Treaty be ratified by the 55 nations necessary, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Never.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Deb?
MS. CALLAHAN: Before the midterm this-year elections in the U.S., and it's going to be a big election issue for these members of Congress.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karen?
MS. KERRIGAN: Never.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brent?
MR. BLACKWELDER: By the end of 2002.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Probably never, unless they change the treaty.
I want to thank Debra, Karen, and Brent for being with us today. You've been superlative in your performances. Thank you so much.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Arsenic and old politics.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency): (From videotape.) The previous administration came out with a standard, and they claimed the National Academy of Sciences had set it. What the National Academy of Sciences said was 50 parts per billion of arsenic in the water was too much. That's all they said.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty parts arsenic per billion as the federal drinking water standard is too much arsenic. So pronounced the National Academy of Sciences, the NAS. So President Clinton fixed his EPA level at 10 parts per billion. Bush has been widely criticized for allowing unsafe levels of arsenic in drinking water. In point of fact, Bush's EPA has yet to set the revised limit, somewhere between, presumably, 10 and 50.
Also, in fact, as noted by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman's sound bite above, NAS has never established the precise level below 50 parts per billion that is unhealthy. Instead, the NAS left that scientific risk assessment to the EPA. The Clinton administration, says Whitman, simply set an arbitrary number, 10. There is it is -- the precautionary principle in practice.
New EPA studies are currently under water to determine to safe arsenic levels. Moreover, says Administrator Whitman, there will be trade-offs in implementing any new regulations. Some small rural water suppliers would have had to raise water rates to their customers by as much as $1,000 a year to meet Clinton's 10-parts-per-billion threshold. Whitman thinks that level is unfairly high. The threshold is harshly onerous, especially on farmers, and totally unnecessary, say some observers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Bush get a bum rap on arsenic? I ask you, Brent.
MR. BLACKWELDER: Bush set the wrong standard, because what Clinton --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he didn't set any standard.
MR. BLACKWELDER: Well, what happened was that the World Health Organization has a standard of 10. The U.S. has been living with a World War II standard from 1942.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is what?
MR. BLACKWELDER: Which was 50 parts per billion. And Congress for three decades had ordered EPA to get up the courage and set a better standard, because we know it causes -- arsenic causes skin cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer; affects the nervous system. This is a well water poison.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why didn't Jimmy Carter do that? He was a Democrat in the White House.
MR. BLACKWELDER: Carter failed to do it. Reagan failed to do it in '86, when Congress wanted to set a new one. And in 1996 Congress ordered again something to be set. The National Academy was commissioned. They came out and said, "This is a serious problem. There are serious health concerns here. We've got to set a new standard." A good one was the World Health Standard, which all of our European trading partners adhere to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael, do you think the Sierra Club is nonpartisan?
MR. BARONE: Do I think the Sierra Club is nonpartisan? Well, technically, but obviously a large majority of its backers would vote for the Democratic candidate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we get some information from this distinguished group on the Sierra Club? Did they have an internal upheaval, so that the old line -- what we used to call conservationists and ecologists are now out, and the new --
MR. BARONE: Oh, I think that took place a long time ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the new environmentalists are in, who base their thinking, their philosophy, their behavior, and their recommendation on the principle of -- the precautionary principle, and they're now in, and they are moving increasingly to the left, becoming more radicalized? Is that true about the Sierra Club?
MS. CALLAHAN: No, I don't think so. It's quite a scenario you paint. But in fact, I mean, conservationists, environmentalists -- they agree on a lot of things, and you know, they're people all the way across the spectrum.
But what environmentalists and conservationists do seriously agree on is that we ought to have a common-sense standard that protects public health and protects the environment.
Going back to the arsenic standard, 10 parts per million (sic), the National Academy of Science has said -- the European Union, others, National Academy of Sciences -- this is the standard that's common sense. That's what Bush ought to set.