The presidential candidates haven’t spent a lot of time talking about conservation or the environment. On the campaign trail, nature has taken a backseat to the economy and security. In the first of four reports on the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at the environmental record of President George W. Bush:
The presidential candidates haven’t spent a lot of time talking about conservation or the
environment. On the campaign trail, nature has taken a backseat to the economy and security. In
the first of four reports on the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham looks at the environmental record of President George W. Bush:
President Bush doesn’t often use the words “environment” or “environmental.” He prefers
“conservation.” It’s part of his philosophy. He believes we should manage resources and believes
the government has tipped the scales too far in favor of preservationists at the expense of business and agriculture. On his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush likes to exercise by cutting brush to manage nature. It’s could be a metaphor for how he sees the larger issue. It seemed that way when he talked about his approach to the environment during the second debate.
“I guess you’d say I’m a good steward of the land. The quality of the air’s cleaner since I’ve been the President. Fewer water complaints since I’ve been the President. More land being restored since I’ve been the President.”
While President Bush believes he’s striking the right balance between conserving natural
resources and not regulating business excessively, many environmentalists think the Bush
Administration’s approach to environmental issues is way out of whack.
Betsey Loyless is the Vice President of Policy for the League of Conservation Voters. The LCV
keeps track of votes and issues and grades politicians on their decisions.
“League of Conservation Voters gave George Bush an “F,” the first “F” we’ve ever given out in
modern history to a president because his policies of anti-environmentalism spread across the
board of dirty air, dirty water, degrading our public lands and jeopardizing our energy future by
focusing on 19th century energy policies that don’t meet our 21st century needs.”
President Bush largely ignores criticism from environmental groups. He sees them as extremists.
On the campaign trail, he frames the debate about the environment in terms of finding a better
balance between the protecting the environment and keeping jobs.
“If we want to keep jobs here in America and expand the job base, America must be the best place
in the world to do business. That means less regulations on our business owners.”
You would think that would make business and industry-types happy. But even there, the
President has his critics. The free-market supporters are disappointed in George Bush. They feel
he should have stuck to the ideas he had when he was running for president four years ago: Roll
back regulations that some businesses say cost a lot of money with little benefit to the
environment. The Property and Environment Research Center – self-described as the center for
free market environmentalism – gave the President a “C-minus” grade on his mid-term report card
because the free-market thinkers believe the Bush Administration compromised its original
proposals to please environmentalists and ended up pleasing no one.
Even some in President’s own party are unhappy with the Bush administration’s dealings with the
environment. The group, Republicans for Environmental Protection, backed by former Republican
EPA Administrators and other prominent Republicans say the President got it wrong. Jim DiPeso
is the group’s Policy Director. His group believes the Bush administration could have done more to
protect the environment.
“Well, our board took a look at the issue and decided that President Bush had not earned our
support based on his record over the last four years. So, because we have a policy of not
endorsing Democrats, the only alternative that we had in order to express our disappointment was
simply to withhold an endorsement for the presidential race this year.”
But the majority of Republicans say the President is making progress on environmental issues.
Lynn Scarlett is one of the architects of the Bush environmental policy. She is Assistant Secretary
of the Department of Interior’s Office of Policy Management and Budget.
“This administration has the highest dollars ever expended by any administration going towards
environmental protection whether it’s on the pollution side and pollution clean up or on the land
management and conservation side. We have a number of new programs the President initiated.
So, there is an awful lot that is occurring that is getting results on the ground.”
President Bush believes the government should be partners with private landowners and
industry… encouraging them to be more environmentally friendly instead of relying on regulations
to mandate less pollution and better stewardship of the land. Environmentalists say that leaves too much to chance and the potential cost to the planet is too dear.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.