Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
Bob Dole's Record on the Environment


If you're trying to keep score at home, don't bother - the League of Conservation Voters has been doing it for decades. And it's not a pretty picture. According to the LCV, Bob Dole averaged a 20 percent rating - that is, he voted for the environment just once in every five opportunities - during his quarter-century in the Senate. He topped out at 49 percent in 1979-80, plummeting to just 5 percent in the 103rd Congress, and hitting a perfect zero in 1995. Specifically, Dole:

  • Was one of only 14 senators to support President Reagan's veto of the Clean Water Act of 1987.
  • Supported filibusters meant to block passage of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act.
  • Has repeatedly voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
  • Voted in favor of all the anti-environment bills vetoed by Clinton in the 104th Congress.
  • Has been a reliable supporter of subsidies for the nuclear power industry.
In addition to his votes against the environment, Dole has been a leader in efforts to block public health and environmental protection via regulatory reform and takings legislation.

The Character Issue

Of course, that was then, this is now. Responding to questionnaires as a presidential candidate - and in the wake of what Gingrich has termed GOP "malpositioning" on green issues - Dole says he supports common-sense protection of the environment. But many of his specific claims do not hold up to scrutiny. For example:

Claim: Dole says he is the only presidential candidate to have voted in favor of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Fact: He voted to sustain Reagan's 1987 veto of the Clean Water Act.

Claim: At Sen. Dole's insistence, the 1996 Farm Bill provides $300 million for restoration of the Florida Everglades.
Fact: Dole's takings and regulatory reform bills would significantly reduce protection for Florida's wetlands.

Claim: In 1995, Bob Dole co-sponsored the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Fact: This bill would have weakened protection from contaminated drinking water, and was opposed by the Sierra Club.

Claim: Sen. Dole supports Superfund reform that focuses on the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.
Fact: In 1994, Dole was responsible for killing a compromise that would have accomplished this goal, and at less cost than the current program. The reform bill had bipartisan support and endorsements from the Sierra Club and the Chemical Manufacturers Association.

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