Kerry to Make Environment Central Campaign Issue

As Earth Day approaches, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is publicizing his plan to make environmental protection a central campaign issue. This is a notable departure from Al Gore’s strategy in the 2000 election, wherein the Democratic candidate was muted on the issue, hoping to dodge the “environmental extremist” tag. Kerry’s campaign on Monday released a detailed critique of President Bush’s environmental record, attacking him on mercury emissions, MTBE pollution, drilling plans for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and changes to the Clean Air Act’s new source review rules, among other things. Rejecting what he called Bush’s efforts to boost economic growth at the expense of environmental progress, Kerry said flatly, “they’re wrong. You can have both.” Bush campaign spokesperson Steve Schmidt defended the president’s environmental policies and decried Kerry’s “campaign of pessimism.”