Environmentalists are growing increasingly concerned about the influence that White House chief of staff John Sununu is said to be exerting on President Bush on issues like global warming and clean air. "Sununu is becoming the James Watt of the Bush Administration, and that's a serious problem for the environment," says Daniel Becker of the Sierra Club.
Bush's environmental record as president has been fairly good. He has listened in earnest to the ideas of Environmental Protection Agency administrator William Reilly, a former head of both the World Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Foundation, and wants the EPA to be elevated to cabinet level. Bush is vastly more sensitive to environmental concerns than was his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.
Unfortunately, Sununu, who has no special environmental expertise, has prevailed upon Bush to move slowly on environmental issues, insiders say. In recent weeks Sununu has reportedly triumphed over Reilly by persuading Bush to soften both a presidential speech on global warming and an agreement on wetlands protection. Sununu seems wary of the environmental movement and its efforts to impose pollution controls—some of them costly—on U.S. businesses.
Bush's tepid response to global warming has been a particular disappointment. Staking out a position reminiscent of Reagan's foot-dragging stance on acid rain, Bush keeps saying that more research is needed. Specifically, he wants more solid proof that the buildup of carbon dioxide and other pollutant gases in the atmosphere really is, as many scientists suggest, causing the earth to warm up dangerously. Two weeks ago some 700 scientists, including 49 Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to the President urging the U.S. to at least take a stand in favor of limiting carbon-dioxide emissions. The scientists wrote that while "more research on global warming is necessary, uncertainty is no excuse for complacency."
Sununu seems to be pushing Bush toward environmental complacency. The President would be better served by again tuning in to his environmental expert, Reilly.
THE, UH, THRILL IS GONE
One of the top trotters at the Meadowlands of late has been a 5-year-old gelding named No Sex Please.
WOOD BE SOLUTION?
Figuring that baseball's owners and players will be sitting around for quite a spell yet talking about a new contract, Bobby Owen, noted Tennessee whittler and author of Bobby Owen's Guide to Whittling, last week sent a whittling knife, an inch-thick chunk of cedar and a copy of his book to Players Association executive director Don Fehr, chief management negotiator Chuck O'Connor and commissioner Fay Vincent. Owen's book includes this bit of whittler's wisdom: "Remember that this old world has never operated to the complete satisfaction of any one individual or group and probably never will, so just do what you can to set things straight and don't be too disappointed if you don't get everything settled to your entire satisfaction."