Explaining his motivation to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent, U.S. Sen. James Jeffords (Vt.) this morning listed “energy and the environment” as two of the “fundamental issues” where he disagreed most strongly with President Bush. Jeffords is known as an environmentalist and was one of six founders of the Congressional Solar Energy Coalition. Reports are that Jeffords will be the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee under an agreement with the new Democratic leadership. If so, Jeffords, with an 81 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters in the last session of Congress (the second highest rating among all Republicans), would replace Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), who received a 6 percent rating.