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The Planet

The War on the Environment Playbook

1. The back-door attack.

Can't get your oil rigs into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Draw up a seven-year budget plan that assumes billions in revenue from oil-and-gas leasing in the refuge - never mind that drilling in the refuge is against the law - and hope nobody notices. By the time Clinton gets the 1996 budget, he'll have no choice but to go along. Ideal for initiatives that have previously lost on their own merits, as this one did in 1991.

2. The piggyback play.

A proven winner given a new wrinkle in the 104th Congress. Simply attach your unwanted provision to a wholly unrelated "host" bill, preferably one that authorizes spending for the president's pet programs.

Although this tactic failed when Clinton used his first veto to block the "logging without laws" provision in the so- called rescissions bill, the president's resolve wavered even before the bill reached his desk a second time.

3. The Statue of Liberty play.

Perfected in the Contract With America, this maneuver involves distracting voters' attention with a lot of Constitution-thumping rhetoric about private property, excessive government, and the like. Jump up and down about "takings," for example - while trying to take away hard-won environmental rights.

4. The bait-and-switch.

Based on a popular marketing ploy, this is a favorite of many members of Congress. As the name implies, it involves advertising a product your customers want, then sending them home with something that turns their skin green. Current examples include alleged "reauthorizations" of the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts, critically important laws that will - if some in Congress have their way - end up polluting water and endangering species.

5. The tourniquet.

Are there still some pesky environmental regulations the EPA insists on enforcing? No problem. Cut the agency's budget by a third.

Peeved that the 103rd Congress actually enacted one environmental bill, the California Desert Protection Act? Don't appropriate the money needed to implement it.

In other words: You can't always get what you want. But you can always squeeze the funding.

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