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Ends Surprise Inspections & Ozone Monitoring

Austin....During his first year in office as Governor of Texas, George Bush set a course to dramatically weaken environmental protections, according to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). Soon after inauguration, Bush took a series of steps to dismantle pollution controls:

* In his first budget Gov. Bush proposed a 20% cut in the funding for the state's pollution control agency, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC); double the reduction proposed for any other agency.

* Texas ended a nearly quarter-century practice of surprise pollution inspections for regulated industries and required inspectors to announce visits in advance, in some case giving at least two weeks notice.

* TNRCC stopped publicizing ozone levels during peak pollution periods in the Houston air basin (now the dirtiest in the country) and instead lobbied to have ozone standards reduced.

Bush avoided public health and environmental professionals and instead chose business executives and representatives to fill key environmental regulatory slots.

"Not only did Bush remove environmental cops from the beat but he tied the hands of those who were left," stated Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers. "Announcing pollution inspections in advance is like giving students the answers to exams how does the public benefit from this policy?"

NOTE: More on gutting anti-pollution laws next week when we describe how, under Bush, TNRCC has been cooking the books on pollution.

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