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Howard Dean: Champion of the Environment?
by Jerald George Barber

17 October 2003Howard Dean

You may be surprised to learn that Howard Dean does not have a squeaky-green record.

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 side.

Jerald George Barber, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, is a Logistics Management Specialist in Newport News, Virginia

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