Hillary Clinton Says Bush Is Reversing Essential Regulations

July 7, 2008 - 7:29 PM

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) accused the Bush administration of attempting to "undo the 20th century" by rolling back federal environmental regulations that she believes are essential for a healthy planet.

Speaking at the League of Conservation Voters dinner in Washington, D.C., on Monday night, Sen. Clinton told a crowd of about 550 environmental activists that the Bush administration is determined to reverse more than just environmental regulations.

"When I first got to the Senate, I realized that on so many issues that I thought were important for our country and the world, that the [Bush] administration wanted to turn the clock back, and they certainly wanted to undo everything that the Clinton administration had done -- which I admit I took a little personally," Clinton said.

"Then it became clear that [the Bush administration] didn't want to just turn the clock back on the Clinton administration, they wanted to go all the way back and undo [former President] Franklin Roosevelt and were on their way to [former President] Teddy Roosevelt."

Sen. Clinton said she soon realized that the Bush administration was committed to reversing what she considers essential environmental regulations.

"And I kept asking myself, 'You know some of those things really worked.' Then I realized that we were living in an evidence-free zone and it didn't matter," Clinton said.

"This was an ideologically driven agenda to make it absolutely clear that we were going to do everything possible to try to undo the 20th century when it came to the frameworks of regulation and law," Clinton added.

Clinton's keynote address, interrupted numerous times by applause, was well received by the Washington-based League of Conservation Voters. Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) received the LCV's "2003 Environmental Leadership Award" at Monday night's event.

The LCV issues an annual presidential environmental report card, and in the run-up to elections, it also releases a "Dirty Dozen" list of federal legislators judged to have the most egregious environmental voting records. The LCV bases its ratings on a legislator's votes on issues ranging from water quality and energy to family planning and international trade.

Sen. Clinton attacked the Bush administration's record on issues ranging from air and water quality to climate change and arctic drilling. She also accused the administration of misleading the American people about environmental science.

"I also want you to know that my remarks have not been censored by either the Chinese government or the White House Council on Environmental Quality," she said, referring to the Chinese government's recent censorship of her autobiography and to accusations that the Bush administration is censoring environmental reports.

"When the facts aren't on their side, [the Bush administration] edit[s] them out. When the science is against them, they go find someone, anyone, who will say what they want them to say," Clinton said.

Sen. Clinton joked that she was communicating with deceased former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt about Bush's environmental policies. "You may know I have these conversations with Eleanor all the time," Clinton said to laughter.

"[Eleanor] is appalled," she continued. "But being the great believer in reason and education, she had a conversation with her Uncle Teddy (former President Theodore Roosevelt). But he's not so reasonable about it - he is outraged [at Bush's environmental policies]" Sen. Clinton said.

"He (Theodore Roosevelt) really can't understand how his vision about what our country should do on the environment would be so abused by someone," she added.

"So he (Theodore Roosevelt) is hoping that somewhere in this crowd tonight there is someone who might perchance see [President Bush] and in sort of buck-up Rooseveltian terms and say to the president, 'Return to your roots. The environment is not just about clearing brush,'" Clinton said to laughter and applause.

"Now if any of you should have that conversation [with President Bush] - report it to me, I'll report it to them (Eleanor Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt)," she added.

Clinton also said she believes federal environmental regulations should be guided by what is best for children. "It's about time that we recognize that our children's health should be the standard by which we judge our environmental action," she said.

Clinton described how one of her New York constituents compared environmental protections to constitutional rights. Clinton said the woman asked her, "When will people realize that I care as passionately about the air I breath and the water I drink as some people care about their guns?"

Deb Callahan, the LCV president, praised Sen. Clinton, saying, "We need more committed senators and congressman like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Callahan said Bush has "compiled the worst environmental record in our lifetime."

"[LCV] gave the Bush administration an unprecedented [grade of] F. It was a failing grade unmatched by any Democratic or Republican president before him," she explained.

GOP 'out of touch'

Republican Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, who also attended the LVC dinner, told CNSNews.com that his party is "out of touch" when it comes to environmental issues.

"My Republican Party needs to wake up to our roots. We need to recognize we are not going to have a world to live in if we continue our neglectful ways," he said. Shays was praised by event organizers for his environmental voting record.

Shays refused to defend the Bush administration when asked if he agreed with LCV's contention that the Bush administration has the worst environmental record ever.

"This administration is so good in so many different ways, but when it comes to the environment, they don't have a great record," he said.

"Ultimately the American people are going to ask, 'What did my party do to protect the environment?' and we don't have a very good answer right at the moment," he added.

'Poisons his people'

Other participants at the event also took the opportunity to chastise the Bush administration.

Brent Blackwelder, a League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) board member and president of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, called Bush "the most anti-environmental president we have ever had."

"I think everybody here says he must go - he is not a leader. No good leader poisons his people," Blackwelder told CNSNews.com.

"Bush has appointed people to run agencies that want to simply serve their former clients, they want to serve the polluters who exploit the public lands. That's fundamentally destruction of democracy," Blackwelder added.

Another attendee, National Organization for Woman President Kim Gandy, accused Bush of "injuring not just the environment, but women's rights, civil rights and the issues that all of us care about."

"All of the allies are here working together. We share an enormous number of issues and we are dedicated to getting George W. Bush out of office in November 2004," Gandy told CNSNews.com.

Former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, the moderator of the event, lamented that the Bush's environmental policies are contrary to those of his old boss.

"On down the line, in so many ways, they have worked to reverse those things that Bill Clinton, a pro conservation president, put in place to protect our environment and protect our natural spaces," McCurry told CNSNews.com. "And the turn-back has been aggressive and belligerent," he added.

'Intensely partisan'

The LCV bills itself as a nonpartisan organization, but a spokesman for a free market environmental group opposed to the LCV's environmental agenda rejected that notion.

[The LCV's] value to the environmental cause is to give the appearance of being bipartisan while in fact being intensely partisan," said Myron Ebell, the director of international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

CEI opposes much of the activist-environmentalist agenda, insisting that more federal regulations do not lead to greater environmental quality.

"[LCV is] in fact a front-group for the Democratic Party," Ebell told CNSNews.com.

"Their long-term goal is to elect as many Democrats as possible and where possible to help green Republicans ... beat less green Republicans," he added.

In order for the LCV's political agenda to become law, Republicans must be swept from power, according to Ebell.

"[LCV has] a broad leftist agenda which depends upon having a Democratic majority if it's going to have any chance at all of being put through Congress; and it depends on a Democratic president if it is going to have much chance of being signed into law," Ebell said.

But McCurry refuted Ebell's claim that LCV was a "front group" for the Democratic Party.

"Senator Snowe (a Republican) will get an award, the organization supports Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), arguably they are more liberal-moderate Republicans, but it's not true that [LCV is] exactly in favor of Democrats," McCurry said.

However, when the audience erupted into enthusiastic applause at the mere mention of former President Bill Clinton, McCurry sarcastically quipped from the podium, "Thank you for that acknowledgment from this thoroughly bipartisan audience."

Former EPA administrator Carol Browner, who served under President Bill Clinton, also denied that LCV had a partisan agenda.

"That is just silliness. We are not a Democratic [Party] front group, the environmental movement has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support," said Browner, now chair of the National Audubon Society.

But the LCV, which has monitored the voting records of congressional candidates since 1996 and targeted for defeat candidates it considers hostile to the environment, has overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates.

A spokesman for LCV told CNSNews.com last year that the group's goal of being "bipartisan" was belied by its overwhelming preponderance of democratic candidate endorsements.

"We try to have bipartisan targets, but the reality is that we have chosen [to target for defeat] 33 Republicans and 4 Democrats since 1996," said Scott Stoermer, the LCV's former communications director in June 2002.

Jacob Scherr, the director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, defended LCV's bipartisan label and blamed Republicans for not garnering more of LCV's endorsements.

"It's a shame that concerned environmentalists in the Republican Party appear to be increasingly an endangered species," Scherr said.

'Tremendously honored'

Senator Olympia Snowe did not appear in person to accept her "2003 Environmental Leadership Award," but she sent along a statement praising the LCV and its mission.

"Please know how tremendously honored I am to be recognized with a group that is synonymous with environmental leadership," Snowe's statement said.

She expressed her views on a range of environmental issues, ranging from her opposition to arctic drilling to increasing fuel economy standards to combating climate change.

"When it comes to global climate change, we must all be willing to put measures in place that will lesson the artificial warming of our planet," Snowe said.

See Related Article:
Environmental Group's 'Dirty Dozen' Labeled Tool To 'Elect Democrats' (June 21, 2002)

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