Sunday, June 18, 2006

EPA rule loosened after oil chief's letter to Rove

WASHINGTON — "A rule designed by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones was loosened after White House officials rejected it amid complaints by energy companies that it was too restrictive and after a well-connected Texas oil executive appealed to White House senior advisor Karl Rove.

"The new rule, which took effect Monday, came after years of intense industry pressure, including court battles and behind-the-scenes agency lobbying. But environmentalists vowed Monday that the fight was not over, distributing internal White House documents that they said portrayed the new rule as a political payoff to an industry long aligned with the Republican Party and President Bush.

"In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to 'openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity.'

"Rove responded by forwarding the letter to top White House environmental advisors and scrawling a handwritten note directing an aide to talk to those advisors and 'get a response ASAP.'

"Rove later wrote to Angelo, assuring him that there was a 'keen awareness' within the administration of addressing not only environmental issues but also the 'economic, energy and small business impacts' of the rule."
LA Times

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