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President Bush Marks Earth Day

"One of the greatest responsibilities in a free society is responsible stewardship of our natural environment," Bush said at the White House ceremony. "All of you have taken that duty seriously. You have set a clear and strong example, and you're inspiring others to do their part."

Environmentalists say Bush is not being a responsible steward by pushing for more timber, oil and gas from public lands and relying on the market rather than regulation to curb pollution.

Bush's "healthy forests" law lets companies log large, commercially valuable trees in national forests in exchange for clearing smaller, more fire-prone trees and brush. His "clear skies" proposal would give power plants, factories and refineries more time to reduce air pollution. Environmentalists call those labels deliberate misnomers.

But no one disputes that Bush likes to spend his time getting back to nature, especially during his frequent trips to his 1,590-acre Texas ranch. There he'll spend hours fishing and cutting down cedar trees with a chain saw to give the native oaks more water and light.

During a visit to the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles in August 2003, he also did restoration work by shoveling dirt for a few minutes to fix a trail.

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