Photo: Oliver Fitzgerald/Bomaye

The Democratic Presidential Candidates
Debate on the Environment
Ackerman Auditorium, UCLA
Los Angeles, California
Thursday June 26, 2003

Transcript Provided by and Reprinted with Permission of the League of Conservation Voters

PART I - Introduction
PART II - "Fairly informal conversation" moderated by Warren Olney - one minute responses
PART III - Question and answers from panel of reporters - one minute responses
PART IV - Closing statements - one minute and thirty seconds

4:44 P.M.

DAVID ALLGOOD: My name is David Allgood. I'm the Southern California Director for the California League of Conservation Voters. And I'm very pleased to, on behalf of the California League of Conservation Voters and the League of Conservation Voters, welcome you to the first, and we think the most critically important, Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on the Environment.

Before I go on, I would like to thank Ruben Arona and all the people at ECO for the beautiful videos you've just seen. These and other messages put out by the Earth Communication Office have been seen by one billion people worldwide and carry a very positive environmental message and call to action.

I also need to let you know that Senator Graham has been chosen to stay in Washington to cast a critical vote, and he will not be here.

Okay. The California League of Conservation Voters and the League of Conservation Voters sponsored this debate to ensure that the candidates you're going to meet today are able to make their positions known to the voters across America and around the State of California.

I know many of you have already made up your minds who you're going to vote for and you're passionate about your choice. We ask you to be respectful to the others in the audience who came here to listen, you know, to get the information they need to make up their minds and all the people that are going to see this on TV and hear it on radio.

So if you would keep your applause to a minimum. And also turn your cell phones off because that doesn't play well on TV or on the radio.

And also in this regard, I need to tell you that if -- if you're going to heckle during the program you will be removed. We believe in free speech, but part of free speech is to be able to hear the opinions.

Of at 5:00 o'clock sharp we will begin a live television broadcast.  We ask you to be completely quiet at that time. We're going to start the countdown for the broadcast at that time.

I'd like to thank you right now for your cooperation in advance, and I want to take this opportunity to introduce my boss and colleague and friend Rico Mastrodonato, who is the Interim Executive Director of the League of Conservation Voters.

RICO MASTRODONATO: Good evening and thank you for coming. My name is Rico Mastrodonato, and I am executive director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

As David mentioned, tonight we are making history by sponsoring the first ever Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on the Environment. And it's fitting that this dialogue takes place in California the birthplace of the modern environmental movement and a key state in the presidential election.

California has long led the nation in solving pressing environmental problems. Poll after poll has shown that Americans want cleaner air and safe drinking water.

Americans want corporations to be held accountable. They want polluters, not tax payers, to pay for the cleanup of their messes. Americans don't want to risk the health of their children for the profits of corporations.

Americans want to preserve and protect our priceless national resources and for our national parks, forests and wilderness areas to remain unspoiled.

This debate is part of a series of activities sponsored by the California League of Conservation Voters and LCV to inform voters where the candidates stand on the environment.

This exchange of ideas on the environment, an issue that voters care so deeply about, will well serve our country and our shared American values.

I'd like to take this time to introduce Deb Callahan, who is the executive director of the LCV. Thank you.

DEB CALLAHAN: Thank you, Rico. Good evening, everyone. My name is Deb Callahan, and I'm the president of the National League of Conservation Voters.

The League of Conservation Voters is the national nonpartisan voice of the environmental movement. And we are proud to partner with our colleague organization, the California League of  Conservation Voters, to bring you this debate tonight.

And we are thrilled to be here at UCLA, one of the greatest educational institutions in the United States, and I might say home to a wonderful environmental studies program.

Holding this debate at a university is especially appropriate because after all, we're here to listen to the candidates and to educate ourselves on environmental issues and where these candidates stand on those issues.  So tonight at this debate we're here to listen and we're here to learn.

With that, I'd like to ask you to please hold your reactions to the comments that you're going to be hearing this evening until the end of the debate.  After the debate we want you to hoot and holler and applaud and let them know how you feel about them, but during this discussion it's important to really allow a good dialogue to occur.

At LCV and CLCV we view this event as the kickoff for what is really going to be along-running dialogue and a vigorous debate on the environmental future of this state, this nation, our world.

In other words, the debate does not start and end tonight.  It will span the entire presidential campaign through the next months, and frankly, for the rest of our lives.

Our mission is to engage the American public on environmental issues, and most critically at this time in the democratic process. That's how you shape debate.  That's how you create change.

In America we have a democratic process that allows us to choose our leaders who reflect our values, but we can only hold them accountable for their actions if we as citizens get involved.

Now I'd like to introduce you to our moderator for this evening, Warren Olney, an Emmy winning radio and TV newsman who is widely regarded as one of the most thoughtful and incisive broadcasters in the business, and certainly here in Los Angeles.

Warren is the host and executive producer of "To the Point" and "Which Way LA" on KCRW Radio Santa Monica and Public Radio International.

Will you please join me in welcoming Warren Olney.

WARREN OLNEY: Thank you, thank you very much, and thank you all for being here. We have a panel of crack reporters who are going to be taking part in this proceeding and let me just briefly introduce them.

Pilar Marrero is with La Opinion.  Next to her is Steve Curwood, who is with "Living on Earth," the NPR program.  Paul Rogers is with the San Jose Mercury News, and John North is with Channel KABC here in Los Angeles.

And let us now welcome the candidates, democratic candidates for President of the United States.Obviously you know them, and they are crowding around to see who's going to take which chair. Senator Lieberman, Governor Dean, Senator Moseley-Braun, Senator Kerry.

I find I cannot see the camera that I'm supposed to look into. Where is it?

Over there.  Okay.  And I won't be able to see the cues if they're against the door.  Okay. Cues are right there. All right.  We're going to have a program which will essentially fall into three parts.  The first part will be 20 or 25 minutes and consist of a fairly informal conversation between me and the candidates, as informal as it can be with the candidates having graciously agreed in advance to hold their responses to one minute each.

I would say I'll begin with a couple of questions, but don't wait during that period of time for me to ask questions.  If you want to make a comment, feel free to go ahead and do it.  But we will try to keep track of your time.

I wonder if you can see the signs.  The League of Women Voters is out here with signs that they are holding up.  Can you see them?  I wonder if they could sit a little closer.  Could we bring the chairs in?  I can't see them either.  The lights are pretty bright.

Pardon me?  We need water, too.  We don't have any water.  It may be a little late for the water, but I think we're seconds away here, are we not?

The second part of the program will be formal question and answers from the reporter, one reporter, one candidate.  And we'll go round robin until we run out of time.

At the end I'll have a few questions from people in the audience, and then we will go to closing statements from each candidate, which will be a minute and 30 seconds each.  >>