WASHINGTON -- One clear goal of the Bush administration's policy to decentralize environmental regulation is to diminish the courts' role in environmental skirmishes among the federal government, environmentalists and businesses that pollute or earn money on federal lands.
When announcing his power plant proposal last week, President Bush said: "It will replace a confusing, ineffective maze of regulations for power plants that has created an endless cycle of litigation."
Environmentalists have had great success using the courts to protect endangered species, limit the size of timber sales in national forests and uphold tough air and water pollution laws. "What the president has done is say, 'Let's have a ... system so nobody can tell any particular company to clean up,"' Philip Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust, said.
Bush administration officials counter that litigation also has hurt the environment by slowing the adoption of regulations to protect it.
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