Al Gore on Environment

Press gives credit to discredited ideas in name of fairness

In his second journalism class at Columbia University, Gore asked students to critique media coverage of global climate change. Gore asked his students to read [several news pieces including] a piece that questioned the “gloom-and-doom” warnings about global warming, which was ridiculed as an example of biased journalism. The prep material, also listed a few questions for students to ponder, such as, “Is it your view that scientists who are the minority on this issue and who remain unconvinced about the seriousness of the climate change problem should be given space in any and all coverage of this issue?“

In class, Gore suggested it was a cop-out for journalists to include skeptical views in reports about global warming. In the name of balance, Gore said that journalists give credit to discredited ideas. In writing a story about AIDS, for example, is it necessary to include someone questioning whether HIV produces AIDS, even though some still say it doesn’t? Gore asked his students.

Source: David Abel, Boston Globe, p. A5 Feb 22, 2001

Will protect Chicago from being as polluted as Houston

Gore said, “I’m hearing a powerful, powerful message here.” He focused on Bush’s tenure as two-term governor of Texas, particularly criticizing Texas’ problems with air pollution. “Houston is now America’s dirtiest city. As someone once said, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ You don’t want the Chicago skyline to look like the Houston skyline.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times Nov 2, 2000

Ban oil and gas drilling off Florida coast

Everyone in Tampa Bay knows that Florida depends on clean beaches and clean air. While my opponent refuses to take a clear stand on this, I will. So let me pledge to you again, I will ban all new oil and gas drilling off of the coast of Florida and California.
Source: Speech in Kissimmee, Florida Nov 1, 2000

Texas is the smoggiest state with the smoggiest city in US

Gore described his opponent as the governor of “the smoggiest state with the smoggiest city” in the country and said Bush’s “idea of environmental protection is putting big polluters in charge of our environmental laws.” Gore kept up his attack on Bush’s tax cut plan and priorities to deal with the federal surplus, but he threw in special barbs that dealt with the Republican candidate’s alliance with the oil industry in Texas. Gore accused Bush of wanting to squander the surplus on tax breaks for the “wealthiest of the wealthy” while planning to exploit a wilderness at the behest of oil interests. “He said he’ll allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Gore, describing the area as “one of our greatest environmental treasures.”

“It would take years & years of development, which would cause decades of environmental damage, to reap just a few months of increased oil supply,” he said. “I don’t believe we can build and sustain prosperity by despoiling our environment.

Source: Curtis Wilkie, Boston Globe, p. A16 Oct 31, 2000

Continue & do more cleanup of Great Lakes

Gore put special emphasis on the Great Lakes yesterday. Speaking of Lake Michigan, he said, “the lake is cleaner than it has been in years and the fish are coming back. I pledge to do more to make the lakes as great as they truly can be: to cut the mercury from power plants that makes fish dangerous to eat, to prevent fresh-water diversion, to clean up toxic hot spots, to take on invasive species, and to work with local communities to ensure that pollution never closes our beautiful beaches again.”
Source: Curtis Wilkie, Boston Globe, p. A16 Oct 31, 2000

UN report confirms global warming; Gore revives the issue

Gore revived the issue of global warming, a subject from his past that he has generally ignored this year. Seizing on a new UN report asserting that pollution appears to be raising world temperatures, Gore tried to portray global warming as a populist issue. He called the effort to stop global warming a fight against big polluters, in an attack similar to those he has made on drug companies, insurance companies, & health-maintenance organizations. “It does not have to happen and won’t happen if we put our minds to solving this problem,“ Gore said of the predicted rise in temperature and problems that would create.

Gore’s turn to global warming suggests he now thinks he can use the subject to cast an unfavorable light on Bush, who has expressed skepticism about the danger. Global warming has long been a central concern of Gore’s. But he has rarely raised environmental issues during his presidential campaign. When he has, he’s cast them as measures to reduce energy dependence on foreign sources.

Source: Bob Davis & Glenn Simpson, Wall Street Journal Oct 27, 2000

A clean environment and a healthy economy do not conflict

Q: What will you do to protect the environment?

GORE: Holding on to the old argument that the environment and the economy are in conflict is really outdated. The governor is for letting the oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Houston’s just become the smoggiest city in the country and Texas is No. 1 in industrial pollution. I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest Oct 11, 2000

Incentives for technology; but no voluntary regulations

GORE [to Bush]: He’s right that I’m not in favor of energy taxes. I am in favor of tax cuts to encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these new kinds of technologies and let me say again, Detroit is raring to go on that. We differ on whether or not pollution controls ought to be voluntary. I don’t think you can get results that way.

BUSH: I don’t believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I believe Washington ought to set standards, but we ought to be collaborative at the local levels.

Q: Would the federal government still have some new regulations to pass?

BUSH: Sure, absolutely, so long as they’re based upon science and they’re reasonable, so long as people have input.

GORE: I’m not for command and control techniques either. I’m for working with the groups, not just with industry but also with the citizens groups and local communities to control sprawl in ways that the local communities themselves come up with.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Invest in clean water, air, & land in “Environmental Decade”

Gore has called for making the next 10 years the Environment Decade, which would include initiatives to: protect forests, rivers and public lands so that families have places where they can hike, climb and experience nature firsthand; ensure that the nation’s air and water is cleaned up; encourage smarter growth and more livable communities; invest more in conservation, renewable energy and in technologies that combat pollution and global warming.
Source: Press Release, Focus on Environment Aug 19, 2000

Trust Fund for the Environment to foster protection & growth

    Gore has called for making the next ten years the Environment Decade, an initiative that includes six broad goals:
  1. Dedicating part of the expected budget surplus to create a new National Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund;
  2. Protecting forests, rivers and public lands so that families have places where they can hike and climb, and experience nature first hand;
  3. Ensuring that the nation’s air and water are cleaned up;
  4. Encouraging smarter growth and more livable communities so every community can grow according to its own values, in a way that preserves its own precious character;
  5. Investing more in conservation, renewable energy and in fast-growing technologies that combat pollution; and
  6. Taking steps - not just in this country, but everywhere in the world - to reverse the rise in global warming.
Source: Press Release, “Sierra Club Endorses Gore” Jul 24, 2000

No drilling in ANWR & off coasts; protect pristine areas

Source: Press Release, “Protection of America’s Last Wild Areas” May 30, 2000

Ozone protection is working; keep up diligence

Even as we seek to decrease ozone levels near the surface of the earth, where they harm us, we have made great progress in restoring the ozone layer high in the upper atmosphere, where it protects us. Our worldwide ban on ozone-depleting substances is beginning to heal the delicate stratospheric ozone layer, which acts as a shield against cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. In the last two years, we have measured an actual decrease in these substances in the stratosphere. If we remain diligent, we will be able to say in the future that because the world joined together to face this global problem head on, banning the chemical culprits and developing low-cost substitutes, the ozone hole over Antarctica will close by 2050, over the next two generations.
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xi Apr 23, 2000

Big Lie: good environment is bad economics

The argument made against this book is that “excessive” protection of the environment hurts the economy. The lobbyists’ definition of excessive is almost always the same: any measure that gets in the way of short-term gain for their clients. It’s never stated this way, but it’s often little more than an appeal to tolerate profits that depend on ignoring pollution. The big lie in this debate is that a good environment is bad economics.

We ought to seek, and we can find, sustainable growth that doesn’t undermine human health or the natural ecosystems that support life. The Clinton-Gore administration has been committed to that ideal. We have our environmental critics, but I think it’s fair to say that in these years, we’ve had the strongest economy in the world, while we’ve repeatedly strengthened environmental protections, all across the board.

The bottom line is that there is not only an environment to be saved but money to be made in reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases.

Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xiii & xviii Apr 23, 2000

Strengthen CAA; polluters pay for air cleanup

Last November, under pressure from utility lobbies, the majority in Congress sought to write dozens of loopholes into the Clean Air Act, weakening enforcement of the law against old and dirty power plants. Instead, we need tough standards for soot and smog, with reasonable flexibility but a real timetable for implementation. In the Environment Decade, polluters should pay to clean up the pollution they’ve created rather than impose the burden on taxpayers.
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xix Apr 23, 2000

Market-based goals for power plants’ air pollution

Source: Press Release Apr 22, 2000

Environmental justice and economic revival go hand-in-hand

Q: Would you protect communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by pollution?
A: I was a principal sponsor of the Environmental Justice Act. We ought to have clean air and clean water and we ought to have a president who’s willing to fight for them. And, incidentally, we can improve our economy and create millions of good new jobs if we go about building the new technologies that can help us clean up the environment.
Source: Democrat debate in Harlem, NYC Feb 21, 2000

Tax credits & business incentives for energy efficiency

Q: What about federal incentives for businesses that are building new facilities or upgrading to more energy-efficient processes? A: I strongly support it. A centerpiece of my efforts has been to try to protect the environment much more effectively. Look at the companies who have agreed to be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem, and we can give those companies incentives in the form of tax credits, federal purchasing, and procurement policies.
Source: Democrat Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 28, 1999

Work with business to solve environmental problems

[Gore seeks] public-private partnerships and emphasizes voluntary measures and flexibility whenever possible to meet crucial public health and natural resource challenges. When conflict arose over the endangered spotted owl,[Gore’s] forest plan protected the species while putting the timber economy on a sound footing. Gore joined with the Big Three automakers to help industry efforts to triple the fuel-efficiency of today’s vehicles without increasing cost or reducing quality and safety.
Source: 5/15/99 May 15, 1999

If we do nothing else, save the rain forest

The most dangerous form of deforestation is the destruction of the rain forests, especially the tropical rain forests clustered around the equator. These are the most important sources of biological diversity on earth. For that reason, most biologists believe that the rapid destruction of the tropical rain forests and the irretrievable loss of the living species dying along with them, represent the single most serious damage to nature now occurring.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 116 Jul 2, 1993

The US should lead the global environmental movement

If the history of this century is any guide, it is safe to say that if we do not lead the world on this issue, the changes of accomplishing the massive changes necessary to save the global environment will be negligible. If the United States does choose to lead, however, the possibility of success becomes much greater. there would almost certainly be substantial economic and geopolitical benefits for the United States.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 176-177 Jul 2, 1993

Calculate environmental impact when measuring profit

The heavy use of pesticides may ensure that the grain we grow achieves the highest possible short-term profits, but the excessive use of pesticides poisons the groundwater reservoirs beneath the field. When we add up the costs and benefits of growing the grain, the loss of that freshwater resource will be ignored. And largely because we have failed to measure the economic value of clean, fresh groundwater, we have contaminated more than half of all the underground reservoirs in the US.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 184 Jul 2, 1993

Civilization and the earth are increasingly in conflict

The disharmony in our relationship to the earth, which stems in part from our addiction to a pattern of consuming ever-larger quantities of the resources of the earth, is now manifest in successive crises. The loss of 1-« acres of rain forest every second; the acceleration of the natural extinction rate; the ozone hole; the possible destruction of the climate balance that makes our earth livable-all these suggest the increasingly violent collision between human civilization and the natural world.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 223 Jul 2, 1993

Al Gore on Brownfields & Parks

No logging in roadless forests; protect 40M acres

ForestsOpposes ban on logging in roadless areas of national forests; supports Tropical Forest Conservation ActSupports protection of 40 million acres of roadless national forests from logging
Air PollutionLobbied to weaken Clean Air Act enforcementNew clean air standards approved under Clinton/Gore
Water PollutionBush’s position papers contain no mention of clean waterBacks federal regulations on factory-farm runoff; worked to strengthen Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act
Brownfield CleanupSupports “more flexibility” in cleanup regulations; supports liability protection for re-developersSupports existing cleanup regulations; under Clinton/Gore, three times as many toxic waste sites cleaned up as in previous 12 years
Source: Boston Globe, p. A28 Nov 3, 2000

Pass bipartisan legislation to revitalize contaminated sites

Al Gore today challenged Congress to pass legislation that would help cities revitalize former industrial sites that are contaminated by toxic waste. “There has been broad bipartisan support for the brownfields initiative - in Congress and all across the country. Unfortunately, pollution has some pretty powerful allies. There is legislation before the Congress right now that would help communities create even more success stories, but Congress has a different agenda.”
Source: Press Release “Challenge to ‘Do Nothing’ Congress” Jul 12, 2000

Transform brownfields into parks with federal investment

Source: Press Release “Challenge to ‘Do Nothing’ Congress” Jul 12, 2000

Livability Agenda proposes $1 billion for parks

Gore is committed to preserving open spaces, building and renovating parks, improving water quality, and enhancing economic competitiveness by redeveloping old factories known as Brownfields. He has proposed $1 billion in federal funds to promote smart growth policies - leaving all decisions in local and community hands. Gore encourages building new schools as centers of communities, in locations that make sense to the communities, not just to developers.
Source: 5/16/99 May 16, 1999

Supports “livability” agenda

The main environmental program that Gore will push is “livability,” a grab-bag of measures to fight urban sprawl, preserve open space and battle traffic congestion.
Source: Time Magazine, p. 65-67 Apr 26, 1999

Control clean air in National Parks

Gore will announce [today] a new federal push to bring air quality over national parks -- some of which now choke in summer smog -- back to pristine, pre-industrial levels. States [must] adopt pollution controls that steadily improve air quality in each of the next six decades with a goal to eliminating man-made pollution by 2064. For the first time, the government will force states to assess the sources of park air pollution and require some sources to install more sophisticated control technology.
Source: Boston Globe, Sunday April 25, 1999, p.A27, by H. J. Hebert Apr 25, 1999

Al Gore on Global Warming

For Kyoto; for national parks; against drilling ANWR

Climate ChangeOpposes Kyoto agreement; wants more research on causes & impact of global warmingSupports Kyoto agreement; believes human-induced global warming is a real threat and must be remedied
Arctic Wildlife RefugeSupports opening 8% of refuge area to oil explorationOpposes opening the refuge to oil exploration
ConservationSupports Land and Water Conservation Act; opposes new national monuments; backs tax breaks and incentives for private conservationSupports Land and Water Conservation Act; Clinton/Gore created 13 new national parks
EnergyBacks increased domestic exploration of natural gas & oil; more research on clean-coal technologySupports tax credits & incentives for renewable-energy or efficiency improvements in homes, cars, power plants; backs aid for cleaner mass transit
Source: Boston Globe, p. A28 Nov 3, 2000

Carbon dioxide causes global warming and we should act

Q: What about global warming?

BUSH: It’s an issue that we need to take very seriously. I don’t think we know the solution to global warming yet and I don’t think we’ve got all the facts before we make decisions.

GORE: But I disagree that we don’t know the cause of global warming. I think that we do. It’s pollution, carbon dioxide and other chemicals that are even more potent. Look, the world’s temperatures going up, weather patterns are changing, storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. And what are we going to tell our children?

BUSH: Yeah, I agree. Some of the scientists, I believe, haven’t they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming? There’s a lot of differing opinions and before we react I think it’s best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what’s taking place.

Source: (X-ref Bush) Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Global Warming is a clear & present threat; but preventable

Global warming is no longer a distant threat; it’s as real, as clear and present an issue, with profound effects on people’s lives, as war and peace or recession and poverty--and the effects are only just beginning to be felt.
There are still some scientists--a shrinking but vocal minority, invariable invoked by special interests--who deny or doubt climate change or its relationship to carbon dioxide pollution. The flaw in the argument this time is that if the skeptics are as wrong as it appears, and if we do not act now, the crisis of global warming will inflict enormous, even irreversible damage. And it is preventable if we act now, wisely and boldly.
It is worth remembering that big changes can occur quickly. There will probably be some climate surprises. Melting of the arctic tundra could release huge quantities of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, which would greatly amplify climate change. Who can afford to wait?
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xiv-xvi Apr 23, 2000

Kyoto goals are an indispensable first step

As record floods alternate with record ice-storms, as record-breaking hot months are followed by even hotter months a year later, who can afford to wait? The US took the lead in convincing other nations that a voluntary international agreement to reduce carbon pollution was no longer enough--that we needed to negotiate a binding timetable to meet specific goals. When I led the US delegation to the Kyoto Conference in 1997, we worked with 180 other nations to put the world on track to reduce the carbon pollution pouring into the atmosphere. The Kyoto agreement isn’t the final answer to global warming, but it is the indispensable first step.

Our next step is to seek meaningful participation from developing nations and submit the Kyoto agreement to the Senate for ratification. I will stay and fight on this issue until we overcome the special-interest opposition, abroad and at home, that threatens to extend and worsen global warming. The Kyoto goals are both practical and economically beneficial.

Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xvii Apr 23, 2000

Avoid “out of tune” unachievable CO2-reduction proposals

Last August, Gore was presented with options to cut CO2 emissions from the two biggest sources, cars & coal-fired plants. Gore turned down the proposals. “We lost that fight in 1993,” he observes, referring to the defeated ‘BTU tax’ on fuels. “We’re not yet winning the fight for the proposals we have now. Impractical proposals that are completely out of tune with what is achievable do not advance your cause.” Stronger policy proposals, Gore argues, have to go with public awareness & political support.
Source: Time Magazine, p. 65-67 Apr 26, 1999

Global Marshall Plan: Five strategic goals

    In my view, five strategic goals must direct and inform our efforts to save the global environment:
  1. stabilizing of world population
  2. the rapid development of environmentally appropriate technologies
  3. a comprehensive change in the economic “rules of the road” by which we measure the impact of our decisions on the environment
  4. negotiation & approval of a new generation of international agreements
  5. a cooperative plan for educating the world’s citizens about our global environment.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 305-307 Jul 2, 1993

Al Gore on Mass Transit & Suburban Sprawl

Replace sprawl with “smart growth”; $7.8B on Everglades

“Rescue of the environment,” insisted Gore in his 1992 book, must become “the central organizing principle for civilization.” This work put him firmly in the green camp, but in this campaign he has been playing down his greenery. His present proposals, which have disappointed many greens, essentially reaffirm the command-and-control approach of the past. Gore:
  • takes credit for the creation of the Superfund, and promises more cooperative efforts by all layers of government to clean up all brownfield sites
  • thinks that government can replace sprawl with “smart growth”
  • wants to help cities finance their revival with “Better America” bonds and tax credits
  • promises massive investments in public transportation
  • vows to push for better regional cooperation among governments on such issues as crime, traffic and air pollution
  • supports a strong government-led approach to dealing with air and water pollution
  • backs a $7.8 billion scheme to clean up and restore the Everglades.
    Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special Sep 30, 2000

    Major commitment to build high-speed Amtrak rail systems

    Q: Should the federal government be spending more to help Amtrak expand intercity rail travel and develop high-speed corridors??

    A: With growing congestion on our highways and airports, it’s time to give the American people a fast and efficient alternative for traveling between our communities. High-speed rail reduces highway and airport congestion, improves air quality, stimulates the economy, and broadens the scope of personal choice for traveling between our communities. That is why, as part of my Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund, I am proposing a major commitment to build high-speed rail systems in major transportation corridors across the nation. As president, I will fight for new grants to Amtrak and the states for improving and expanding passenger rail routes and corridors. And I will work to secure funding to help communities improve rail stations - to help rebuild these vital economic centers in cities and small towns across America.

    Source: Associated Press Sep 17, 2000

    Both gas & public transit should be affordable & available

    The Vice President announced new investments in light rail systems, cleaner buses and high-speed trains that would help cut traffic, reduce smog and end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Gore also called for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hearings so the public can hear directly from oil company executives. He said: “You deserve the independence to get in your car and drive anywhere you want to go, on your own schedule, without emptying your wallet at every filling station. You should also have the choice to park your car at a light rail station and be moved swiftly into a newly-thriving downtown -- without having to worry about gridlock, a parking lot or rush-hour traffic. Transportation choices mean real freedom.“
    Source: Press Release, “Energy policy” Jun 29, 2000

    Clean up and improve existing bus & rail systems

    Gore would help make city buses & school buses safer and cleaner. His plan would reduce traffic congestion by building light rail, adding new lines or stops; or modernizing existing rail systems. Financial incentives would encourage revitalization of neighborhoods around rail stations. New high-speed rail systems and improvements to existing routes would help people travel between communities. Finally, the plan would provide grants to Amtrak and communities to improve rail stations across the nation.
    Source: Press Release, “Energy policy” Jun 29, 2000

    Gore proposes $2B to counter suburban sprawl

    Al Gore proposed spending $2 billion over ten years to set aside more parkland and combat suburban sprawl. The money would come from a mining industry fee. “All working families deserve easy access to parks and open space, whether they live in the inner city or on the growing edge of suburbia,” he said.
    Source: Boston Globe, p. A8, “Political Briefs” Nov 15, 1999

    Public/private initiative to triple auto fuel efficiency

    Source: Associated Press, “Environmentalists Endorse” Oct 7, 1999

    Mass transit to fight suburban sprawl

    By investing in mass transit and light rail, and by helping communities develop alternatives to clogged highways, Gore believes we can reduce traffic and air pollution, and build the stronger sense of community that walkable, bikeable neighborhoods foster. [Gore encourages] regional cooperation on issues like traffic, air pollution, and jobs [which] don’t recognize defined borders, and neither should our solutions.
    Source: 5/16/99 May 16, 1999

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