Environment will be top-tier issue in 2000 elections

Conservation group launches "Vote Environment" advertising effort in Austin to raise environmental issues with candidates and voters

WASHINGTON - Voters will make the environment a top-tier voting issue in the 2000 elections, according to conservationists. To make that claim a reality, the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) today announced a $7.4 million national advertising, polling and grassroots public education effort designed to encourage candidates to address environmental issues and voters to find out where the candidates stand on such issues. Television advertisements begin airing in Austin today.

Television ads launched this week in Austin, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga., highlight threats from polluted air and water and inform viewers that "Who We Elect Matters," urging them to "Vote Environment." Through early summer, the ads will also air nationally on select cable stations and in the following cities: Seattle, Wash., Columbus, Ohio, Lansing, Mich., Billings, Mont., Sacramento, Calif., and Minneapolis, Minn.

"Throughout the country, voters are paying more attention to issues that directly affect the quality of their lives, from the safety of the water they drink and the quality of the air they breathe, to suburban sprawl that is eating away at green space and increasing traffic congestion," said Deb Callahan, president of the LCVEF. "This is the year when the environment will emerge as a critical election issue-an issue that candidates seeking all levels of elective office will be well-served to address."

As a key component of the public education effort, the LCVEF also launched a www.VoteEnvironment.org Web site that houses the television ads and encourages visitors to take an on-line pledge to ask the candidates where they stand on environmental issues and to "Vote Environment."

The Web site also contains the group's extensive environmental polling data. Over the course of the year, the LCVEF is evaluating the saliency of environmental issues and how they influence voter participation. Working with state environmental groups and a variety of pollsters, the group this year will conduct 23 state and three national polls on environmental and conservation issues and their relationship to civic participation. The polling analysis, surveys and commentary will be available over the Internet.

Al Quinlan, president of Greenberg Quinlan Research Inc., conducted the first national poll. About the findings Quinlan said, "Political candidates, regardless of political party, can benefit by including environmental issues in their campaigns. Not only do environmental issues, especially clean air and water, appeal directly to the quality of life and health concerns of voters, but candidates who embrace these issues are viewed in a significantly more positive light by voters."

Margot Clarke, Texas state director for the LCVEF, added, ""The public wants and deserves to hear from candidates about where they stand on environmental issues, and especially how they propose to address the problems. The actions of those who we send to the State Capitol, Congress, and the White House will directly affect the health and quality of our children's lives."

The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about environmental issues, increasing the capacity and effectiveness of state and local environmental groups, and encouraging citizens to participate in the democratic process. For more information, please visit the LCV Education Fund Web site at www.lcvef.org.

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