Office of the Vice President
Remarks by Vice President Al Gore
on the Environment and the 105th Congress
As Prepared for Delivery
We're here today for one simple reason: To tell the Congressional majority that it's high time that they deliver the strong environmental protections Americans want and deserve -- instead of standing in the way.
It's high time that they commit the resources we need to clean our rivers and lakes, protect families and children from toxic waste, preserve our precious parks, and reverse the dangerous trend of global warming. And it's high time that they stop the backdoor assaults on the environment, and stop trying to attach harmful riders to important legislation that have nothing to do with the environment.
We know the American people are absolutely committed to preserving and restoring our environment. Time and time again, they have said, resoundingly, that they want clean air, clean water, healthy lands, and abundant wildlife -- for now, and for future generations.
That is why President Clinton and I have worked so hard to protect the environment. In the last five years, we've cleaned up more toxic sites than the two previous administrations combined. We've enacted the toughest-ever controls on soot and smog. We've launched an aggressive Clean Water Action Plan. We've protected the red rock canyons of Utah, Florida's Everglades, and Yellowstone Park.
Last week, at the National Ocean Conference in California, the President and I announced a host of new initiatives to protect our oceans for all time.
Now we want to do even more. We want to acquire and protect 100 natural and historic treasures around the country -- Civil War battlefields, critical winter range for Yellowstone bison, the stunning Baca Ranch in New Mexico, and the last private stretches of America's longest footpath, the Appalachian Trail. We're proposing nearly $1 billion over five years to undertake critical repairs in our national parks and other public lands, so future generations can enjoy them as we do.
We're proposing an additional $600 million in cleanup funds, so communities don't have to wait and wait and wait to be freed of toxic blight. We're proposing new resources to carry out our Clean Water Action Plan, so we can finish the job of restoring our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. And to meet the greatest environmental challenge we face -- the challenge of global climate change -- we are proposing $6.3 billion in tax and research incentives to jump-start "solution industries" and reward consumers who choose energy-efficient cars, homes, and appliances.
Those are our priorities. And Congress? I see the Republicans have formed a new group to paint themselves green.
But when it comes time to deliver, they're still invisible. Neither the House nor the Senate budget resolution provides for these critical environmental needs.
They're even trying to whittle away protections already in place. And they are resorting to stealth tactics -- coming in at the last minute, with no debate, with mischievous riders serving big polluters and other special interests. They attach these riders to critical legislation -- bills to provide disaster relief, or fund our peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. Last year, disaster relief for flood victims was held hostage to a rider that would have allowed road-building in our national parks. The President stood firm, and the rider was dropped.
This anti-environmental abuse of the legislative process must stop. Today, we are putting Congress on notice: we will not tolerate stealth tactics that do unacceptable harm to our environment or threaten the public health. In the past, such actions have led to vetoes. They've led to government shutdowns. Congress should remember these precedents before trying to rob the American people of our precious environmental protections in the dead of night.
It's time to end the antics and get down to the business of protecting our environment. Congress should fund our environmental priorities, and do so in the plain light of day -- for the environment we deserve, and for the democracy America demands. Thank you.
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