For Senator Kerry, the environment has been a major issue throughout his years in politics, especially in the US Senate, where he chaired the oceans and environment subcommittee.
He's not hard-core about it. He favors oil drilling in some areas, just not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He's pushed for stiffer fuel-efficiency standards for motor vehicles, but he welcomes some market-based solutions. He notes flaws in the Kyoto Protocol. But the League of Conservation Voters gives Kerry a 96 percent lifetime voting record on the environment, one of the highest in Congress. And his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is very involved in the environmental movement, giving large sums to green groups.
Among activists, there's no doubt who's the greener candidate. They point to what they say is a long list of industry representatives holding senior positions in the Agriculture and Interior Departments - the two federal agencies that oversee hundreds of millions of acres of public land. They note that Bush reversed a campaign pledge to regulate industrial carbon dioxide, pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and favors a "Healthy Forest Initiative" that critics say is a giveaway to the timber industry in the name of wildfire prevention.
For his part, Bush says (in his reelection statements) that he "favors common-sense approaches to improving the environment while protecting the quality of American life." And he tends to take the long view.
"Three decades after the first Earth Day, our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our lands and natural resources are better protected," the president declared on Earth Day last year. "My administration is building on these accomplishments through new and innovative policies. We will reduce power plant pollution by 70 percent. We will restore forest health, preventing catastrophic wildfires that devastate communities, wildlife habitat and the landscape. And we will promote energy efficiency and security, and improve and protect water quality, while encouraging economic growth."