Democrats say that President Bush’s recent moves to roll back environmental protections have given them their first rallying point since Bush took office. “We believe that George W. Bush has declared war on the environment,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) last week. Mark Mellman, a leading Democratic pollster, said, “I think Bush is in the process of creating a political disaster for himself.” Environmental groups are beginning to run radio and TV ads around the country criticizing Bush’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and calling attention to the president’s broken promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and his decision to rescind a rule lowering the allowable amount of arsenic in drinking water. For his part, Bush seems to be betting that he can successfully portray environmentalists as extremists, responsible in part for the country’s current energy problems.

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