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The Candidates on the Issues: Environment

President Bush speaks to supporters in Wells, Maine on Earth Day, April 22, 2004.
President Bush speaks to supporters in Wells, Maine on Earth Day, April 22, 2004.
Sen. John Kerry greets supporters during an Earth Day rally at the University of Houston, April 22, 2004.
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Sen. John Kerry greets supporters during an Earth Day rally at the University of Houston, April 22, 2004.

On Earth Day this year, President Bush and Sen. Kerry extolled the virtues of conservation, clean air, and wetlands. While the environment has never played a deciding role in a presidential election, these issues are often a critical part of how the candidates define themselves and each other. This election is proving to be no different.

Bush has proposed a controlled expansion of the nation's wetlands over the next five years, but he also supports a "less government is better" approach to environmental regulation. Critics have accused the current administration of reversing decades of environmental progress.

For Kerry, who blames the White House for failing to clean up toxic sites, the issue requires a delicate balancing act: he wants to look "green" enough to convince voters who might be leaning towards Nader, but not so green that he loses points with those who worry about trade-offs between the environment and jobs. NPR's Elizabeth Arnold reports.

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