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CONSERVATIONISTS SAY THEY READ EMPTY PROMISES ON BUSH'S LIPS

President Bush's pledge to be the environmental president "seems to have followed the path of `read my lips, no new taxes,' " the League of Conservation Voters said Thursday.

The nonpartisan group rated the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets and found the Democrats more in tune with environmentalist views.Bill Clinton has acknowledged choosing short-term job creation over long-term environmental protection during his tenure as Arkansas governor, in his state, but the Democrat says he has changed his philosophy in recent years.

The league praised Clinton for environmental moves during the past few years, for commitments he has made to fight pollution and promote conservation if elected president, and for choosing Tennessee Sen. Al Gore as his running mate.

"Sen. Gore is an environmentalist with a long, consistent and proven record," the group said.

Bush got credit for helping move the 1990 Clean Air Act through Congress. But the league said the president's moratorium on pollution regulations this year undermined the act, as have actions by the White House Council on Competitiveness headed by Vice President Dan Quayle.

In addition, Bush was credited for increasing funds for the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the league also noted the agency's budget was severely cut during the Reagan administration and said the increases under Bush did little more than restore lost money.

Bush was criticized for an appointed panel's decision to allow logging in northwestern forests that are home to the endangered spotted owl; for reneging on a 1988 campaign promise to ensure no net loss of wetlands; and for being "the single biggest obstacle" to an international treaty cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

Clinton won plaudits for his answers to a league questionnaire, in which he said what he would do as president. The group said Bush had not responded.