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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Whitman's Positions Are Not Crystal Clear

February 14, 2003

In your Feb. 9 profile of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman, she portrays herself as an embattled figure trying to hold back the Bush administration's assault on the environment. If only it were true.

Last month, she announced a new policy that abandons Clean Water Act protection for, by her agency's estimate, as many as 20 million acres of wetlands. At the same time, she kicked off a new rule-making process that could eliminate Clean Water Act protection for an even broader category of waters, including creeks, streams and other small waterways. That would allow industry to dredge, fill or dump waste into them without a permit or notifying the public, undermining efforts to control pollution and floods as well as threatening wildlife habitat and drinking water supplies.

Whitman told The Times that she "said no" to the administration's desire to overhaul the Clean Water Act, but this new rule-making process could do just that. She should enforce our nation's fundamental water protection law, not cripple it.

Nancy Stoner

Dir., Clean Water Project

Natural Resources Defense

Council, Washington

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Among the innumerable health and environmental threats imposed on Americans in the name of "good business" by the Bush administration, the recent standout has to be its response to "Study of Toxins Says U.S. Children Are at High Risk" (Feb. 1). Apparently, the problem of putting our children at risk of cancer and other horrible diseases has little traction in this administration, as Bush has chosen to weaken controls on cancer-causing emissions from factories and other significant sources ("EPA Plans to Relax Toxic Emission Standards," Feb. 11). What does it say about a society that it will not even protect its children from harm?

Melissa Johnson

Mar Vista

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