Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
One entrenched idea is beginning to weaken: The public does not consider President Bush the archenemy of the environment, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.
"The environmental movement and sympathetic politicians have painted the administration as anti-environmental. Given the administration's refusal to reverse course, there was reason to expect that its opponents would generate a backlash against its environmental policies similar to the one that hit the early Reagan administration," noted Gallup environmental analyst Riley Dunlap.
But there's "little evidence of a comparable backlash ... despite intense efforts by environmentalists and political supporters," he continued.
The poll of 1,003 adults conducted March 3-5 reported that 53 percent said Mr. Bush had maintained environment-protection policies, up from 48 percent in 2001. The fraction of Americans saying the administration has weakened these policies is almost unchanged it stands at 35 percent, up just a point from 2001.
Sierra Club spokesman Allen Mattison is not impressed.
"Gallup took this poll when the U.S. was at war, when Americans were rallying behind their commander in chief," he said yesterday. "They're not going to tell a pollster something negative. The timing of the poll has dictated the results."
Mr. Mattison said the Bush administration continues to leave public comment out of its environmental equation, spends too much time "settling lawsuits" rather than upholding environmental law and "sides with industry rather than public health."
He said the Sierra Club was "relieved" that a potential environmental disaster caused by Iraqi oil fires was averted by U.S. military efforts. The hazard was heavily forecast by the United Nations and many pundits in late March.
Meanwhile, the entire environmental debate has changed, according to Mark Pfeifle, spokesman for Interior Secretary Gale A. …