Many Americans are
taking note of the former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who is seeking a
bid for the U.S. Presidency. Through the third quarter of this year, Dean
had raised $10 million more than any of the other Democratic contenders.
With many hoping for an environmental alternative to the pro-business Bush
administration, Dean seems like the logical choice. But hold the presses.
This presidential hopeful from the Green Mountain State doesn’t have the
most green of records.
Dean has been highly critical of Bush’s stance on the environment. In a July
speech in San Francisco Dean said, “We have a president who seems to regard
public resources as gifts to be handed out to special interests...Allowing
big timber to denude our forests, the Bush-Cheney administration calls it
the 'Healthy Forests' initiative."
And that is where Dean began inserting his foot into his mouth. What he failed
to tell the environmentally minded individuals of San Francisco was that
he himself owns an interest in timberland, valued between $100,001 and $250,000,
in Madison County, Virginia.
He also failed to mention the "Champion Lands" deal of January 28, 1999.
While governor of Vermont, he approved a state purchase of 107,000 acres,
85,000 of which would be available for the harvesting of the timber. And,
all of the property would be opened to public access. The program is very
similar to Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative, of which Dean is so critical.
Back in February, Michael Colby of Wild Matters ran an article in CounterPunch Magazine
about Dean entitled “Meet Howard Dean – The Man From Vermont is Not Green
(He’s Not Even a Liberal).” The article discussed Dean’s many blunders on
the environment as governor of Vermont.
In the article, Colby interviewed Annette Smith, the director of Vermonters
for a Clean Environment. She went toe-to-toe with Dean on many environmental
issues during his administration. One of those issues was a proposed gas
line through her hometown. It would have required massive timber clear-cuts
and radical topographical changes. Smith said, “Dean's attempts to run for
president as an environmentalist is nothing but a fraud.”
If you are looking for an environmental champion on the Democratic ticket
next November, you may be out of luck. And before you cast your ballot for
President in 2004 just remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other
George Barber, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, is a
Logistics Management Specialist in Newport News, Virginia.