Crimes Against Nature
Introduction
     
    E arlier this year I was invited to speak at the Round Hill Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. If Greenwich is the Republicans’ Mecca, then the Round Hill Club is the Kaaba. In the foyer I passed beneath an oversized photograph of Senator Prescott Bush, a former Greenwich resident and the current president’s grandfather. Somebody pointed to an anteroom and commented: “That’s where George met Barbara,” referring to the president’s mom and dad. It was the club’s annual meeting — always well attended — and as I stepped to the podium I looked out over a sea of skeptical faces, the faces of affluent conservatism. I spoke for an hour — about why the environment is so important to the physical and spiritual health of our nation and its people, about how a wholesome environment and a healthy democracy are intertwined, and about the way that President Bush is allowing certain corporations to destroy our country’s most central values. I pulled no punches, and I got a standing ovation.
    A month before, I got a similar response at the Woman’s Club of Richmond, Virginia, where someone boasted that no member had voted for a Democrat since Jefferson Davis. They told me it was the first standing ovation there in 38 years.
    Earlier that week I had spoken at an oil-industry association meeting in the Northwest, and I received an equally enthusiastic response.
    I got those reactions not because I’m a great speaker (I’m not), but because I talked about the values that define our community and make us proud to be Americans — shared values that are being stolen from us. Those oil executives, Richmond Republicans, and Round Hill Club members have the same aspirations for their children as I have for mine: clean air and water, robust health, beautiful landscapes in which to play and grow and be inspired, and a community that stands for something good and noble.
    I want to be very clear here: This book is not about a Democrat attacking a Republican administration. During my two decades as an advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, and the Waterkeeper Alliance, I’ve worked hard to be nonpartisan. The fishermen and farmers whom I represent as an attorney run the political spectrum, and I’ve supported both Democratic and Republican leaders with sound environmental agendas.
    Moreover, I don’t believe there are Republican or Democratic children. Nor do I think that it benefits our country when the environment becomes the province of one party, and most national environmental leaders agree with me. But today, if you ask those leaders to name the greatest threat to the global environment, the answer wouldn’t be overpopulation, or global warming, or sprawl. The nearly unanimous response would be George W. Bush.
    You simply can’t talk honestly about the environment today without criticizing this president. George W. Bush will go down as the worst environmental president in our nation’s history. In a ferocious three-year attack, his administration has launched over 300 major rollbacks of U.S. environmental laws, rollbacks that are weakening the protection of our country’s air, water, public lands, and wildlife.
    Such attacks, of course, are hardly popular. National polls consistently show that over 80 percent of the American public — with little difference between Republican and Democratic rank and file — want our environmental laws strengthened and strictly enforced. In a March 2003 memo to party leadership, Republican pollster Frank Luntz noted: “The environment is probably the single issue on which Republicans in general and President Bush in particular are most vulnerable.” He cautioned that the public is inclined to view Republicans as being “in the pockets of corporate fat cats who rub their hands together and chuckle maniacally as they plot to pollute America for fun and profit.” If that view were to take hold, Luntz warned, “not only do we risk losing the

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