The Bush administration received a serious dressing-down in absentia last night over its misbegotten environmental policies, as five of the nine Democratic hopefuls aired their own green views during a League of Conservation Voters forum held in Los Angeles. Rather than detailing the differences in their own positions, most of the candidates who were present — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), and the Rev. Al Sharpton — attacked the current administration and expressed shared views on how to better protect the environment. These included calling for more use of alternative fuels, stricter fuel efficiency standards, and tougher enforcement of clean air and water regulations. Among the more interesting topics of discussion were the universal call for better environmental justice policies to protect poor people and minorities from bearing the brunt of ecological woes, and a debate over whether Americans would have to make sacrifices in their lifestyles to protect the environment.

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