Liberal Senators Critique Bush Environmental Policy

BACKGROUND: Liberal elected officials, including Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton (NY) Dick Durbin (IL), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patrick Leahy (VT), Barbara Boxer (CA), and independent Senator Jim Jeffords (VT), have recently issued alarmist criticisms of President Bush’s environmental record. Sample statements:

Boxer: Bush is undertaking an “assault on the environment unlike anything I have seen in public life.”1

Durbin: These are “dangerous days for America.”2

Clinton: “The state of our environment is getting weaker and weaker, dirtier and dirtier.”3

Leahy: “So many environmental standards to roll back, and so little time. When it comes to the administration’s policies on the environment, every Friday seems to be Friday the thirteenth.”4

Jeffords: Democrats must protect people “who will die” if Bush is allowed to rewrite environmental policy “in the dark of the night”5 and “it truly is a matter of life and death. We need to act fast to save as many of those people as we can.”6

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: These Senators have gone over the top with their criticisms, which are long on name-calling and politics and short on the substance of the environmental issues involved.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The charges made by the environmental left and its allies against President Bush are so exaggerated, and so emotional, they betray the Senators’ political motivations. If one compares the Democratic Senators’ assessment of President Bush’s environmental record with other critiques of the President’s environmental policies, one sees not only sharp differences in conclusions, but also in thoughtfulness.

DISCUSSION: In “Mid-Term Report Card: Bush Administration’s Environmental Policy,” issued by the Political Economy Research Center’s Center for Free Market Environmentalism on January 22, the White House is given an average C- grade in sixteen separate environmental policy areas. PERC stakes out some positions that differ from those associated with the White House and much of the GOP/conservative hierarchy. Nonetheless, it manages to do so in a thoughtful manner that the Senators and any other critic would do well to imitate.

It is clear that Senate Democrats are hoping to exploit environment issues for political gain against President Bush. Their motives at this point are too transparent to succeed. These liberal Senators won’t reach their political goals, much less in make a serious contribution to the policy debate, unless they address these issues — and their audience — in a far more thoughtful and constructive manner.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: We recommend the following links:

“Senate Dems Rap Bush Environmental Plans,” Associated Press, January 16, 2003, as published on at

“Life or Death,” John McCaslin, Inside the Beltway, Washington Times, January 20, 2003 at

“Mid-Term Report Card On Bush’s Environmental Policy,” 128-page report by the Political Economy Research Center’s Center on Free Market Environmentalism grading the White House on 16 different environmental policy areas, January 22, 2003, available at

“Answers to Common Environmental Questions,” by Tom Randall and Gretchen Randall, National Center for Public Policy Research, July 2002, at

by Amy Ridenour, President

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.