aily Nam f. JFIkmy. y 10o, 19ir 1
1996 mixed bag for environment
In 1996, environmental activists
fought to protect public health.
environmental laws, and to main.
lain a balance between the caviron-
ment and greedy developers.
Attempts were made in Congress,
prticular'y by the Republicans, to
weaken the onaon's environmental
Republicans tried to replace
strong and effective environmental
laws.with Welies fooling the Ameri-
can people that big companies need
to be less regulated.
When the 104th Congress began
its session, the word environment
was never mentioned in the GOP's
"Contact of America."
But numerous proposals were
offered by Republicans to reform
the Clean Water Act. Clean Air
Act, Superfud, and other environ-
mental laws which protect the citi-
zens of the United States and its ter.
ritories. Such a bill was the "Dirty
Water Bill." introduced by House
Transportation Infrastructure Chair
Rep. Bud Shuster.
In reality, this bill was to weak.
en the Clean Water Act by allowing
companies to dump pollutants with-
out any strict environmental regula-
lion. Political fights between
Republicans and Democrats put the
environment on center stage in
1995 and 1996.
With all the political rhetoric in
Congress. President Clinton stood
firm against anti.environmental
extremists when he refused to sign
a budget agreement that contained a
number of anti-environmental bills.
These anti-environmental bills
included ending U.S. Environemn-
tal Protection Agency enforcement
on wetlands laws and cutting fued-
ing for the endangered species pro-
Clinton refused to sign the co.n
gressional agreement that twice
shut down the federal government
rather to allow the Americans pub.
lic health. safety, environmental
laws to be jeopardized by radical
Before 1996 election, the
National Wildlife Federation con.
ducted a noipardisan poll to find out
if Americans were satisfied with
current environmental policies.
The polls revealed that voters
were dissatisfied with current envi.
ronmental policies. Overall, 75 pet.
cent of the American people view
preserving and protecing the envi-
ronment as a high priority. The
American people did not allow
Republicans to fool them with this
"Contact of America" scheme.
On the local level, what were the
environmental issues that faced the
Virgin Islands in 1996? The first
issue that comes to mind is the fires
at Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas.
Toxic fumes from the landfill not
only affected residents in the sur-
rounding area. bet the entire island
community and its economy.
You see, the Bovonil landfill is
not a new environmental issue, but a
problem our government failed to
correct years ago. Another environ-
mrntal issue was the Tutu wells con-
lamination another issue that was
ignored by the government for years.
In 1996, we were blessed with
lots of rain. But heavy rain creates
many problems for residents, the
eo-nomy and damages our environ-
meat. Many homes and properties
were damage by the rain. Mean-
while, our bays and beaches water
turned and stayed brown for weeks
from soil washed down from hills
and mountain sides of the islands.
Talking about issues, many peo-
ple opposed the government's
attempt to transfer federal lands to
the local government. Historically,
our local government have a poor
record of maintaining public lands.
Can you imagine what would Ip-
pen to the national parks lands of
these islands if the local govern-
ment gotten a hold of them?
Then politics entered the picture
of Jack and Isaacs Bay and a long
environmental battle fought by citi-
zena who wanted the land to be pro-
served indefinitely. The Crequn
Dam rain forest, AT&T's cable-in
northwest St. Croix, approval of a
development above Magens Bay
and a shipment of nuclear waste
through the Caribbean waters were
some of the other environmental
issues of 1996 in the Virgin Islands.
From what we cat and drink and
how we build our homes, to what
we use and throw away, and how
we get from here to there all
make environmental decisions a
part of our daily life, Let us do a
good job in protecting these islands
environment in 1997 and beyond
the year 2000.
Olosee Davu who holds a mas-
ter of science degree in range man.
egeent and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and