PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC HEALTH
"We must ask more of ourselves, we must expect more of each other, and we
must face our challenges together. . . . Our fifth challenge: to leave our
environment safe and clean for the next generation. . . . People do have a right
to know that their air and their water are safe."
January 23, 1996
President Clinton and Vice President Gore help repair flood
damage along the Potomac River, Earth Day-1996.
During the last generation, we made great progress in protecting the environment. We now
have cleaner, safer air and water. We have cut lead levels in our children's blood by 70%,
and toxic emissions from factories by half. But a third of us still breathe air that endangers
our health, and in too many communities, the water is not safe to drink. President Clinton and
Vice President Gore are committed to common sense reforms to environmental programs and
are determined to block attempts to roll back safeguards for our families' food, water and air.
A RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT:
- Community Right to Know: Issued a "Pollution Disclosure" Executive Order
requiring industry to disclose information about toxic releases to their neighbors and
nearly doubling the number of chemicals that industry must report.
- Safe Drinking Water: Proposed and signed legislation to strengthen the Safe Drinking
Water Act and ensure that our families have healthy, clean tap water. Required
drinking water systems to test for and eliminate dangerous contaminants such as
cryptosporidium, which in 1993 killed 100 and sickened 400,000 in Milwaukee.
- Meat Safety: Issued new standards to protect consumers from E. coli contamination in
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: Created a new national monument
protecting 1.7 million acres of spectacular red rock canyonlands, artifacts from three
ancient cultures, and the most remote site in the lower 48 states.
- Toxic Waste Clean-ups: Completed as many toxic waste site clean ups in three years
as were completed in the previous 12. Fought Republican attempts to gut the
Superfund law that makes polluters -- rather than taxpayers -- pay to clean up toxic
dumps. Vetoed Republican Congressional bill that cut Superfund clean ups by 25%.
- Pesticides and Food Safety: Proposed and signed bill to strengthen standards for
pesticides in food -- including special safeguards for children. Canceled dozens of
hazardous pesticides while moving safer substitutes into the market more quickly.
- National Parks: Signed parks legislation that creates or improves almost 120 national
parks, trails, rivers, and historical sites, including measures to protect the Sterling Forest
in New York and New Jersey, the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas, and the Presidio of San
Francisco. Fought attempts to close national parks. Developed "Parks for Tomorrow"
program to restore our national parks.
- Enforcement: Ensured compliance with environmental safeguards by toughening
EPA's enforcement programs. Protected enforcement programs from 25% cuts.
- Clean Air: Made the air we breathe cleaner by issuing new standards to cut toxic
pollution from chemical plants by 90% and dangerous incinerator emissions by 98%.
- Everglades Restoration: Committed $1.5 billion over seven years to help restore the
unique Florida Everglades and ensure safe, clean water.
- Yellowstone: Reached agreement to halt massive gold mine three miles outside
Yellowstone National Park, protecting the area from toxic runoff and other threats.
- Arctic Refuge: Vetoed a Republican Congressional bill that would have opened the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
- Clean Water: Vowed to veto the lobbyist-written bill to roll back the Clean Water
Act. The Clean Water Act keeps billions of pounds of toxic pollutants and sewage out
of our rivers, lakes and streams.
- Recycling: Issued an Executive Order to jump start the market for recycled goods.
- Global Phaseout of Persistent Pollutants: Led the way to a worldwide agreement to
phase out the use of 12 dangerous, persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and
- Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Changed EPA rules and procedures to
reduce paperwork requirements for businesses by 15 million hours, and are allowing
businesses to create their own management plans if they can exceed environmental
standards more cleanly and cheaply than they could with traditional regulation.
- Environmental Technology: Implemented technology programs to help American
businesses compete more effectively in the fast growing global market while creating
jobs for American workers.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD:
President Clinton will continue to support policies that protect
our health and natural resources while making common sense
reforms to environmental programs by:
- Expanding community right-to-know laws and
challenging communities to use the information
to work with business to cut pollution.
- Challenging Congress to provide true reform of
the Superfund program and to drop proposals to
force taxpayers to pick up the tab to clean up
toxic waste. Cleaning up two-thirds of
Superfund sites by 2000.
- Getting tough on criminal polluters, to
strengthen penalties for the worst
environmental criminals and ensure that courts
can secure polluters' assets in order to
restore the communities they victimize.
- Dramatically reducing paperwork and replacing
one-size-fits-all regulations with result-
- Challenging American businesses to take more
initiative in protecting the environment.
- Challenging Congress to re-examine and reverse
those policies that would endanger our health
and safety by weakening programs such as safe
drinking water and clean air.
- Continuing to work with state and community
leaders and businesses to find better ways to
protect our natural resources and provide
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