By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - When Vice President Dick Cheney comes here tonight for a political fund-raiser, he probably won't pay much attention to the group that plans to protest his appearance.
But members of the Sierra Club say they'll still deliver their message that Cheney and the Bush administration have a poor record on environmental issues.
"We want to send the message that Tristate citizens want the Bush administration to stop weakening environmental laws and start enforcing the protections that keep our communities safe and healthy," said Glen Brand of Cincinnati, the Sierra Club's Midwest regional representative.
The Sierra Club has organized a rally for 5 p.m. Friday in the Park & Ride bus lot adjacent to the Airport Hilton Hotel on Turfway Road in Florence.
Cheney is expected to arrive at the hotel sometime after 5 p.m. at a campaign fund-raiser for Kentucky U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican seeking re-election in the fall.
The Sierra Club says the Bush administration has undermined the federal Clean Air Act by relaxing regulations on coal-fired power plants. When coal is burned, it releases mercury into the air. The mercury eventually ends up in rivers, lakes and streams and accumulates in fish and shellfish.
The Sierra Club also is suing Cheney to find out who from the energy industry helped draft the administration's energy policy. The Bush administration has refused to reveal the information, and the case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The club has formally asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to step down from the case because he and Cheney recently went duck hunting together.
Bunning's campaign office would not comment on the planned protest, referring calls to Cheney's Washington office. Calls seeking comment were not returned.
Bunning said earlier this week he expects to raise $200,000 to $300,000 at the Cheney event.
"Vice President Cheney is one of the smartest and hardest-working vice presidents this country has seen in modern times," Bunning said in a statement. "He reflects Kentucky's values of hard work and integrity. I am grateful for his help with my Senate re-election."
But Cheney is seen by some as hurting Bush's re-election chances.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday showed 39 percent of respondents felt "positively" or "very positively" about Cheney, the lowest level he has ever recorded in the NBC/Journal survey.
The poll included phone interviews with 1,018 adults Saturday through Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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