Lieberman Slams Bush Environmental Policies

Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) called George W. Bush "the worst president for the environment in America's history."

Speaking to a small group of supporters and environmentalists on a deck outside the New Hampshire Conservation Center Sunday, the Democratic presidential hopeful accused Bush of Orwellian double-speak on the environment.

Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative (search) would increase air pollution and his "Healthy Forests" initiative allows more logging in national forests, Lieberman charged.

"So it's 'War is peace,'" Lieberman said, quoting one of the political slogans in George Orwell's novel "1984 (search)."

Lieberman, who ran as Al Gore's vice presidential candidate in 2000, touted his history of environmental activism, focusing on his latest effort: a bill to curb global warming that he is co-sponsoring with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona (search).

The McCain-Lieberman amendment to the energy bill would require that by 2010, U.S. industry cut back the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere to what it was in 2000, reversing a trend of annual increases. To reduce costs, industry could use a market-based emissions trading system.

Julie Teer, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Republican Party (search), said Lieberman's legislation "is a tax, a tax on energy. His plan is going to hurt our competitiveness ... workers and stockholders."

She said Bush "has put together a strong bipartisan environmental policy, and this president has gone further than any administration, including Bill Clinton's."

Lieberman said Bush's decision early in his administration to reject the Kyoto Protocol (search) on global warming was not only an environmental mistake, but hurt international relations.

"It complicates everything we've done with the rest of the world" since then because America, which emits more greenhouse gasses than any other nation, turned its back on international efforts to address the problem, Lieberman said.

While the McCain-Lieberman amendment is not as stringent as the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, it would "put us back on the side of responsibility with the rest of the world," he said.

Lieberman and McCain have acknowledged it will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass the amendment. Many in Congress oppose restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, saying they would be devastating to industry and are not justified by current science on global warming.

Lieberman and McCain argue the restrictions would hurt the U.S. economy far less than continued increases in global warming, and would stimulate technological innovation.

Lieberman said Sunday the amendment has the support of some Republican senators besides McCain, but declined to identify them, saying he did not know whether they were willing to oppose the Bush administration publicly yet.

Lieberman said he believes that among voters, the environment is a nonpartisan issue, but that the Bush administration is responding to an ideological agenda promoted by a small segment of the Republican Party.