The symbolism is perfectly exquisite. President George Bush, who has given out fewer pardons than any modern president, felt that he could not leave office without releasing Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in southeast Missouri. Bush is generally viewed as the most hostile president to environmental protections in modern times. His pardons seemed to reflect that profile with another pardon going to a hazardous waste violator who was given a mere probation sentence. I will be discussing the Bush pardons with Rachel Maddow tonight.
Collier is a real charmer. He explained that he was only trying to kill coyotes by lacing hamburger meat with pesticides — a trap that is widely denounced by environmentalists around the world and well-known to be a danger to bald eagles and other animals. Collier was appropriately convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
What is particularly galling is that Collier received a light sentence: two years probation, $10,000 in restitution. Yet Bush believed that even that was too harsh for an environmental crime.
Bush also pardoned Daniel Pue III, 64, who was sentenced more than 10 years ago for illegal dumping of hazardous waste.
He was convicted in 1996 on federal charges of illegal storage, disposal and transportation of a hazardous waste without a permit, according to court records. The waste was pentachlorophenol and creosote sludge. Once again, the sentence was light. Pue was sentenced to three years’ probation with six months’ home detention on each charge. The sentences were to run concurrently. He was also fined $1,000.
The pardons seem an almost gratuitous slap at even the most basic environmental protections. These men received probation but Bush felt that killing protected animals or dumping hazardous waste does not justify these sentences.
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