Seattle,WA; April 21, 2003: At a news conference held outside the Seattle office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pacific Legal Foundation today released its “Earth Day List of Top Environmental Lies,” providing factual evidence to counter false claims in five major areas.
* Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) Drivers Are Anti-Environment;
* The Endangered Species Act (ESA) Saves Species;
* “Smart Growth” Is Smart;
* President Bush Is Gutting Environmental Protections;
* Environmental Quality Is Declining.
LIE #1: SUV Drivers Are Anti-Environment
Over the past year, SUV drivers have been called everything from anti-environment to anti-American. In truth, SUV drivers are not anti-environment; rather, they are pro-family. Typically, SUVs are safer, larger vehicles and, therefore, are chosen by people to accommodate the needs of their families.
“SUVs are a tool of the American family,” said PLF Managing Attorney Russ Brooks. “SUVs offer families the choice of commuting safely and comfortably. Environmental extremists label SUV drivers as villains even though SUVs are as clean and efficient as most other cars on the road,” said Brooks.
Brooks pointed to the fact that most vehicle emissions come from old cars—not newer ones, including SUVs. In addition, Brooks raised concerns about a movement to impose new federal fuel economy standards—known as “Corporate Average Fuel Economy” (CAFE) standards—on SUVs in an effort to increase gas mileage. According to PLF, these standards will force manufacturers to make SUVs smaller, lighter and less crash-worthy.
PLF provided information from an insurance industry report that appeared in USA Today on July 2, 1999, claiming that the cost of every mile gained in fuel efficiency would result in 7,700 deaths.
LIE #2: The Endangered Species Act Saves Species
For nearly 30 years, environmental extremists have touted the virtues of the Endangered Species Act. During today’s news conference, PLF attacked the false promises of the ESA, using the government’s own data to debunk the notion that the ESA saves species from extinction.
“Although thousands of species of wildlife and plants have been given protected status over the past three decades, species are not being brought back from the edge of extinction because of the ESA,” said Brooks.
“Nevertheless, some 1,250 additional species are currently being considered for ESA listing,” Brooks said. Brooks referenced government records showing that in 30 years, only 34 of 1,851 listed species have been removed from the ESA. Of those 34, 7 were removed due to extinction, 13 were removed due to “new information,” indicating they shouldn’t have been listed to start with, and 14 are claimed to have been recovered. However, of those 14 so-called “recoveries,” 6 were not species living in the United States, and the remaining 8 were classified as “recovered” but actually were dropped from protection due to other factors unrelated to the ESA, including the banning of DDT.
“The real tragedy of the ESA is its heavy-handed, species-first approach. People have lost their homes, land, jobs and, sadly, perhaps even their lives without any lasting benefit to species,” said Brooks. “It is time for wholesale reform of the ESA,” Brooks said.
LIE #3: “Smart Growth” Is Smart
Environmental extremists claim that so-called “smart growth” is the best choice for people and for the future of urban planning because suburban development threatens the environment and destroys quality of life. According to PLF, smart growth advocates are dumb to reality.
“Smart growth advocates assume that a densely populated city lifestyle and public transportation mesh with American values,” said Brooks. “Truth be told, smart growth is not smart at all. It does not consider the needs and wants of the American public. We need to build roads—not roadblocks—to the American dream.” said Brooks.
PLF pointed to polling data showing that, given a choice, 83% of Americans would prefer to live in a detached single-family home in a suburban area rather than a condo in a city. In addition, PLF provided data from the Environmental Protection Agency to discount concerns expressed by smart growth-ers over the impact of suburban development on environmental quality.
“Over the years, air quality has actually improved as suburbs have grown,” said Brooks.
LIE #4: President Bush Is Gutting Environmental Protections
Environmental extremists contend that President George W. Bush is rolling back long-standing, essential environmental protections, putting industry and profits ahead of people, public health and quality of life.
“President Bush is righting, not rolling back, environmental policies, and the American public largely supports his efforts,” Brooks said during today’s news conference.
“The environmental policy revisions we have seen coming out of this White House are returning balance and reason to the equation. Bush is ordering his agencies to comply with the law, court rulings, sound science and commonsense. Mainstream Americans welcome this change,” said Brooks.
Brooks specifically pointed out three positive changes in environmental policy coming from the Bush Administration. They include the conducting of economic impact analysis prior to designating critical habitat, required by the ESA; efforts to comply with an important Supreme Court ruling concerning wetlands regulations; and implementation of hands-on, common sense forestry management practices.
LIE # 5: Environmental Quality Is Declining
PLF reported today that, contrary to doomsayers, air pollution and water quality are improving in the United States. Since 1970, total emissions of the six main pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have declined 64% at the same time energy consumption grew by 41%, auto travel grew 148% and the economy grew 158%. In addition, according to recent data, the concentration of carbon monoxide has decreased 28% since 1970.
PLF also provided information on water quality. Citing official data, Brooks pointed out that, as of 2002, 91% of the population served by community water systems received drinking water that met all health-based standards, up from 83% in 1994.
According to the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, the U.S. has “made tremendous progress in cleaning up our waters over the past three decades—an achievement that is even more remarkable coming alongside substantial increases in population growth and often-dramatic economic growth.”
“Since the Sixties, environmental extremists have been pushing their agenda on the American public,” said Brooks. “This Earth Day, PLF is exposing these environmental wolves in sheep’s clothing by debunking their most blatant lies,” said Brooks.
To arrange interviews on this issue, journalists and producers may contact PLF's Media Director, Denise Davis, at (916)362-2833.