A well-connected Texas oil man needs an environmental rule relaxed. So he writes a letter to his good friend Karl Rove and, presto, the rule is relaxed. Just another example of the best government money can buy.
Reports Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten in The Los Angeles Times:
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.
Environmentalists pointed to the Rove correspondence as evidence that the Bush White House, more than others, has mixed politics with policy decisions that are traditionally left to scientists and career regulators. At the time, Rove oversaw the White House political office and was directing strategy for the 2002 midterm elections.
Angelo had been mayor of Midland, Texas, when Bush ran an oil firm there. He is also a longtime hunting partner of Rove’s. The two men first worked together when Angelo managed Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign in Texas.