EPA holiday tips: Sprinkle organic nutmeg on your eggnog, avoid plastic cups

Officials at the Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), often maligned for undermining the Clean Air Act and refusing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, are clearly dreaming of a soot-gray Christmas as they head off into an increasingly hazy sunset.

The EPA, already being blasted for 11th-hour attempts to loosen air-quality standards for coal-fired power plants (including in and around the country’s National Park system), is now facing ridicule for apparently being oblivious to the irony of issuing a press release entitled, “U.S. EPA Highlights Ways that Everyone Can ‘Go Green’ During the Holidays.”

The release, which has suggestions such as, “Avoid using disposable dishes and utensils when entertaining friends and family,” was seized upon by salon.com blogger Alex Koppelman, who pointed out that, “It’s pretty rich to hear the EPA lecturing citizens on how they can save the earth by not using plastic forks when that same federal agency is actively thwarting efforts by states to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation, which makes up one of the nation’s largest contributions to global warming.”

Meanwhile, speculation on an Obama administration replacement for current EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, who is considered by many to be no more than a Bush administration yes man, centers on Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection; Mary Nichols of California’s Air Resources Board; Ian Bowles of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; and environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr.

McGinty looks like an EPA frontrunner because of her experience with renewable energy, a big push for the Obama administration, at least according to Pennsylvania environmental reporter Ann Murray, who’s followed McGinty’s career over the years.

Murray also told the Allegheny Front public radio program that there may now be a renewed push to give the EPA more teeth by elevating it to a full cabinet-level department.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.