Sierran Masthead

Bob Dole's Environmental Record

Bob Dole's "On-line Campaign" includes a fact sheet on his environmental record. It brazenly asserts that "Bob Dole has been a Congressional Leader in Protecting the Environment." Nothing could be further from the truth. Former Sen. Dole had a terrible environmental record during his 27 years in the U.S. Senate. He had an average pro-environment voting score of 20% from 1970-95, according to the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters. He voted for the environment an average of 5% of the time from 1991-1995.

Sen. Dole's issue paper on the environment includes many claims that are misleading at best, and false at worst. Here are some of the claims, and the facts:

CLAIM: "Cosponsored the Safe Drinking Water Act."
FACT: This bill would have WEAKENED protection from contaminated drinking water, and was opposed by the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations. Most of the Senate provisions were dropped from the Safe Drinking Water Act before President Clinton signed it into law in early August.

CLAIM: "Played a key role in passing the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act."
FACT: He also voted against overriding President Reagan's veto of the Clean Water Act of 1987. The Senate voted to override the veto by a vote of 86-14 on February 4, 1987. Senator Dole voted to SUSTAIN the veto. Had his position prevailed, the Clean Water Act of 1987 would not have become law.
FACT: On March 16, 1995, Sen. Dole voted to suspend the listing and protection of endangered species. This left unprotected more than 100 species of plants and animals slated to be listed.

CLAIM: "Led the Clean Air Act to passage, a law that fundamentally reformed the previous law and is recognized as one of the most sweeping environmental laws ever enacted."
FACT: From January to March 1990, Sen. Dole and other Republican Senators prevented clean air legislation from coming to the floor of the Senate because they were trying to WEAKEN it. For instance, Sen. Dole inserted into the bill a provision that would have allowed chemical companies to move people away from the perimeter of chemical plants rather than reducing toxic air pollution from the plants. This "dead zone" provision was stripped from the bill thanks to Sen. Gore (D-TN). In addition, Sen. Dole inserted a provision into the Senate passed Clean Air bill that would have weakened the key enforcement mechanism used to achieve compliance with smog health standards.

CLAIM: "Played a significant role in amending the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1971 to help eliminate the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters."
FACT: The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1971 (Clean Water Act) was finally passed in 1972 by overriding President Nixon's veto of the bill. The Senate voted to override the veto by a vote of 52-12, with 36 Senators not voting. Sen. Dole missed the vote, so he did NOT vote to override the veto. Had his position prevailed, the bill that he worked on would not have become law.

CLAIM: "Introduced the Private Property Rights Act to ensure that the government justly compensates property owners for the 'takings' [sic] of private property for public use."
FACT: Sen. Dole's takings bill would require taxpayers to pay landowners to not take actions harmful to others on their property. For instance, Exxon is seeking $125 million in compensation from the taxpayers because the Exxon Valdez tanker is no longer allowed in Alaskan waters. (Anchorage Daily News, April 5, 1996). The Los Angeles Times said that takings legislation "would reverse a long-held policy under which polluters are responsible for meeting the cost of cleaning up damages they cause, with one which the government would, in effect, pay businesses and individuals not to pollute." (May 4, 1996)

CLAIM: "Has long supported funding to preserve our natural resources including the Presidio, the Florida Everglades and America's National Parks."
FACT: Although Sen. Dole supported efforts to protect the Presidio, he also supported efforts to attach an anti-Utah Wilderness provision to the bill. Dole supported Sen. Hatch's (R-UT) attempt to add a provision to the Presidio bill that would have allowed drilling, mining and grazing in vast tracts of Utah's red rock wilderness.
FACT: Sen. Dole voted against the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, which was the largest parks bill ever passed in the lower 48 states.

CLAIM: "Served as a key architect of the 1996 Farm Bill which contains one of the most significant conservation provisions ever enacted." It contains provisions on water pollution, wetlands protection, and $300 million for the restoration of the Florida Everglades.
FACT: Sen. Dole voted for an EPA appropriations bill that would have blocked federal protection of most wetlands -- including the Everglades. In addition, his takings and regulatory reform bills would significantly reduce protection for Florida's wetlands. Florida Governor Chiles wrote Sen. Dole that one cannot be "anti-wetland" and "pro-Everglades" at the same time.

CLAIM: The environmental policy paper states that "As President, Bob Dole will: Support policies that keep our environment safe and clean, protect the property rights of all Americans, and give states and local communities the flexibility they need to effectively meet real environmental challenges."
FACT: Sen. Dole's regulatory reform bill, S. 343, would block enforcement of public health and safety laws if the costs of pollution clean up outweigh the estimated health and environmental benefits by a single dollar. If the cost of a company's scrubber to reduce air pollution is $10,000, and the benefit of reduced childhood asthma due to lower air pollution is only $9500, the company would not have to reduce its pollution. The bill would require EPA to hire nearly 1,000 new bureaucrats and spend $200 million annually to conduct risk studies. In addition, special interests would have dozens of opportunities to block environmental enforcement by suing the government. Sen. Dole's regulatory reform bill passed the House, but was blocked in the Senate. He has included it in his economic plan. In 1995, President Clinton vetoed the debt ceiling extension bill because it included this provision. The New York Times said that the Dole "bill would gut the ability of Federal agencies to promulgate new health safety or environmental rules." (May 5, 1995)
FACT: Americans oppose "property rights" or takings legislation. For instance, voters in Arizona and Washington state rejected takings referenda by 60%-40%.

CLAIM: "Continue to support the development of nonpolluting electric vehicles and cleaner alternative fuels as he has done since the 1970's."
FACT: On March 20, 1990, Sen. Dole voted against a Clean Air Act amendment by Sens. Wirth (D-CO) and Wilson (R-CA) that would have significantly increased the production and use of zero emission vehicles and cleaner fuels.

CLAIM: "Continue to support reforms of the Superfund Program so that the program focuses on the cleanup of hazardous waste sites -- not on endless, expensive and ineffective litigation."
FACT: In 1994, Sen. Dole was responsible for killing a compromise Superfund reform bill that would have accomplished his goals at a cheaper price than the current program. The bill had bipartisan support, and was endorsed by both the Sierra Club and the Chemical Manufacturers' Association. The Financial Times determined that "Both supporters and opponents of the Superfund reform bill said the central role in killing the measure was the hostility of Senator Bob Dole." (October 6, 1994) The Washington Post reported that "Last summer...Dole began sending signals that Senate Republicans would not agree to pass a bill this year." (October 6, 1994)


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Fall 1996