Environmentalists decry Nader's 'spoiler' candidacy
By Brent Israelsen
The Salt Lake Tribune
To the Bush campaign, newly announced independent presidential candidate Ralph
Nader is a slow, dark horse in the race for the White House.
But to environmentalists, who generally back Democrats for
president, Nader is unsafe at any speed.
Regarded by Democrats as a spoiler in the 2000 race, Nader's
candidacy is considered more troubling this time around because
environmentalists consider President Bush a greater threat to the nation's air,
land and water than they imagined possible four years ago.
The official announcement of Nader's candidacy was barely an
hour old Sunday when one environmental advocacy group condemned the move.
"It is monumentally irresponsible for Ralph Nader, who
professes a reverence for our natural environment, to take any step that aids
[Bush's] re-election bid," said Rodger Schlickeisen, director of the newly
formed Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.
On Monday, the League of Conservation Voters chimed in with a
"Ralph Nader's sense of self-importance has again
superseded his relevance to the presidential election," stated Deb
Callahan, the league's president.
Running on the Green Party ticket in 2000, Nader, a longtime
consumer advocate, pulled 2.7 percent of the popular vote nationwide. By
garnering 97,488 votes in Florida, Nader is believed to have taken the Sunshine
State's much-coveted electoral votes away from Democratic candidate Al Gore, who
lost to Bush there by a mere 537 votes.
Nader has brushed off the "spoiler" criticism,
saying he was an alternative to both Bush and Gore because there were no
substantial policy differences between the two mainstream candidates.
Bush's actions on the environment have proved Nader wrong,
During the past three years, the Bush administration has
taken the opposite road on dozens of environmental initiatives implemented
during the Clinton-Gore administration. For example:
* The United States disengaged from international talks on
* The Environmental Protection Agency backed away from
requirements that old power plants were scheduled to meet.
* The National Park Service reversed a Clinton-era ban on
snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park.
* Interior Secretary Gale Norton, in a legal settlement with
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, took 6 million acres of public lands out of
consideration for wilderness protection.
The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Sen. John
Kerry, D-Mass., who has a lifetime environmental voting record of 96 percent.
Said Callahan, "He [Kerry] is a genuine environmental
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