Candidates Have Mixed Views on Cleaning Up Water Pollution

The League of Conservation Voters have compiled information concerning the leading Republican and Democratic presidential candidates' views on water pollution.

The next president may have to address what is becoming a disturbing trend in states and cities across the United States: a decline in the water quality of many rivers, lakes and streams.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) compiled information concerning the leading Republican and Democratic candidates' views on water pollution.

More than 40 percent of U.S. waterways are threatened by pollution, much of which can be traced to polluted runoff from farms, ranches, parking lots and city streets.

Environmentalists support efforts to strengthen the Clean Water Act and create a mandatory and enforceable program to curb such pollution.

However, opponents of a mandatory program say that flexible incentives to curb polluted runoff would be more effective in helping cities and states across the country protect their valuable water resource.

So, where do each of the candidates stand?

Arizona Senator John McCain is the only Republican presidential candidate who has vowed to address the issue of polluted runoff if elected president.

McCain supports a cost-effective program that balances the needs of the agricultural community and other land-based activities with a healthy environment.

While Texas Governor George W. Bush has not directly addressed the issue, his record in Texas suggests that water quality protections will not be one of his top priorities.

According to the Sierra Club, 27 percent of Texas's rivers are considered "swimming impaired" by EPA, while 5 percent cannot support aquatic life.

On the Democratic side, Vice President Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley have both spoken to the issue of polluted runoff.

Gore advocates strengthening the Clean Water Act and significantly increasing investments in clean water programs, while Bradley supports looking at a wide range of solutions for cleaning up runoff.

"It's clear that, as president, Bush would set back decades of efforts to clean up U.S. waterways," said LCV Political Director Betsy Loyless. "On the other hand, while their plans lack specifics, Bradley, Gore and McCain have all acknowledged that polluted runoff is a serious problem."

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