Protecting the Environment
President Clinton and Vice President Gore

Americans have made tremendous progress in protecting and restoring our environment. Our air and water are cleaner and safer. We have cut lead levels in our children's blood by 70 percent and toxic emissions from factories by nearly half. Yet a third of us still breathe unhealthy air, and 40 percent of our waterways are still too polluted for fishing and swimming. Development threatens open space and environmentally sensitive lands, and global warming threatens the stability of the earth's climate.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore are fighting vigorously on behalf of America's land, water, air and wildlife, as well as leading international efforts to protect the global environment. They blocked Congressional attempts to weaken more than 25 years of environmental and public health protections, and they have pioneered collaborative approaches and common-sense reforms to safeguard our environment while promoting economic growth.

Key 1998 Initiatives to Protect Our Resources, Our Communities, and Our Planet

Saving and Restoring Parks, Forests and Other Natural Treasures. Through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the President is proposing to complete the Appalachian Trail, rebuild salmon runs, provide critical winter range for Yellowstone bison and acquire nearly 100 other natural and historic treasures. A new agenda for America's 155 national forests emphasizes recreation, wildlife and water quality, while reforming logging practices to assure steady supplies of timber and jobs. The President's five-year budget proposes a 43 percent increase for land acquisitions and would provide a nearly $1 billion increase for priority maintenance and construction at national parks and other public lands.

Clean, Safe Water for America. Twenty-five years after enactment of the Clean Water Act, the President launched a major new initiative to fulfill its promise. The President's Clean Water Action Plan targets the largest remaining threat to water quality -- polluted runoff from farms and city streets. By setting strong goals, and providing states, communities and landowners the tools and resources to meet them, the Plan will protect our beaches, fish and drinking water. To carry out the initiative, the President is proposing $568 million in new resources -- a 35 percent increase -- in Fiscal Year 1999, and a total increase of $2.3 billion over five years.

Doubling the Pace of Toxic Cleanups. One in four Americans, including 10 million children below the age of 12, live within four miles of a Superfund hazardous waste site. The Clinton Administration has greatly accelerated cleanups, completing more than twice as many in the past five years as were completed in the previous twelve. To rid more communities of these toxic threats, and meet the goal of completing 900 cleanups by the end of 2001, the President is proposing a total of $2.1 billion in Fiscal Year 1999, a 40 percent increase.

Leading the Fight Against Global Warming. U.S. leadership was instrumental in achieving international agreement in Kyoto, Japan, on strong, realistic targets for greenhouse gas reductions and flexible market-based mechanisms for achieving them. To promote cost-effective steps to reduce U.S. emissions, the President is proposing a five-year $6.3 billion package of tax incentives and research and development to spur energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. Measures include tax breaks for highly energy-efficient cars and homes, solar rooftop panels, and energy-saving heating and cooling systems.

Protecting Our Natural Treasures
A Record of Accomplishment

We are blessed with magnificent natural resources. Every time our family goes on vacation in a national park, I thank God again for the good fortune of being an American and for all the blessings we've been given just by the grace of God. But I tell you, we've been given it, it's up to us to do the right things with it.

-President Clinton, 8/28/96

  • 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.
  • Yellowstone: Reached historic agreement to halt the massive New World mine three miles outside Yellowstone National Park, protecting the area from toxic runoff and other threats. Secured $65 million in the FY 1998 Interior Appropriations bill to purchase the mine property.
  • Everglades Restoration: Implementing bold new Everglades plan, committing $1.5 billion over seven years to help restore the Everglades and ensure safe, clean water for south Florida. In 1997, announced the acquisition of well over a hundred thousand acres for restoration purposes.
  • Headwaters Forest: Maintained commitment to long-term protection of the Headwaters ancient redwood forest in northern California by securing $250 million in the FY 1998 Interior Appropriations bill for its acquisition. Reached agreement on the principles of a science-based habitat conservation plan to protect threatened and endangered species.
  • National Parks: Signed legislation that creates or improves almost 120 national parks, trails, rivers, and historical sites. Created largest park in lower 48 states with California Desert Protection Act.
  • Wildlife Refuges: Signed legislation that strengthens protections for wildlife by mandating that the most important use of our nation's wildlife refuges is giving refuge to migratory birds and other animals reliant on this rich system of natural habitat.
  • Endangered Species Protection: Completed or have in progress 300 Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) covering 7.3 million acres of public and private land across the country, compared to 14 HCPs before President Clinton took office. HCPs are voluntary agreements to protect wildlife habitat while giving landowners the certainty they need to manage their land effectively.
  • Farm Conservation: Proposed and signed into law a Farm Bill that authorizes $2.2 billion in additional funding for conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve.

Ensuring Public Health
A Record of Accomplishment

I want an America in the year 2000 where no child should have to live near a toxic waste dump, where no parent should have to worry about the safety of a child's glass of water, and no neighborhood should be put in harm's way by pollution from a nearby factory.

- President Clinton, 8/28/96

  • Clean Air: Approved strong new clean air standards for soot and smog that will prevent up to 15,000 premature deaths a year and improve the lives of millions of Americans who suffer from respiratory illnesses.
  • Toxic Waste Clean-ups: Completed many more toxic waste clean-ups in five years than were completed in the preceding 12. Accelerated the cleanup process at toxic waste sites, so that 90 percent of the worst sites have had substantial cleanup work, and final cleanup decisions have been made for more than 80 percent of the approximately 1200 cleanups funded by the Superfund.
  • Community Right to Know: Provided communities with access to more information about chemicals released into their air and water. Issued a Pollution Disclosure Executive Order requiring additional industries to inform the public about pollution. Nearly doubled the number of chemicals that industry must report to communities, while expanding the number of facilities that must report by 30 percent.
  • 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 inform their customers about the safety of the water they drink.
  • Children's Health: Signed an Executive Order to reduce the environmental health and safety risks to children. Requires federal agencies to coordinate their research priorities on children's health and to ensure that their standards take into account special risks to children.
  • Pesticides and Food Safety: Signed new food safety law -- based on principles set forth by the President four years ago -- to strengthen standards for pesticides in food, including special safeguards for children.
  • Tax breaks for polluting less: The Administration backed tax provisions that reduce pollution through tax breaks for cleaner cars and commuter's choice.

Sustainable Communities
A Record of Accomplishment

Our communities are only as healthy as the air our children breathe, the water they drink, the Earth they will inherit.

-President Clinton, 1/23/96

  • Revitalizing Communities: Accelerated the cleanup of brownfields -- abandoned, contaminated urban property -- clearing the way for local redevelopment while protecting green areas outside our cities. Secured tax incentive for investors who purchase and clean up old waste sites in communities across the country.
  • Community Right to Know: Provided communities with access to more information about chemicals released into their air and water. Issued a Pollution Disclosure Executive Order requiring additional industries to inform the public about pollution. Nearly doubled the number of chemicals that industry must report to communities, while expanding the number of facilities that must report by 30 percent.
  • American Heritage Rivers: Launched initiative to designate ten American Heritage Rivers to enhance our citizens' enjoyment of the historic, cultural, recreational, economic and environmental value of our rivers and to protect the health of our communities.
  • Preserving Local Efforts to Protect Communities: Proposed legislation to strengthen the hand of police and prosecutors in fighting local environmental crime. Opposed a bill allowing developers to side-step state and local zoning and environmental efforts, allowing them to hold state and local officials hostage to the threat of Federal court litigation when seeking reasonable limitations on land use and development.
  • Recycling: Issued an Executive Order providing Federal leadership by requiring agencies to buy recycled products. The federal governments' efforts to buy recycled products has helped to create and sustain markets for the roughly 7,500 community recycling programs in America, affecting almost 50 percent of the population.
  • Environmental Technology: Helping American businesses compete more effectively in the rapidly-growing $408 billion global market while creating jobs for American workers. Coordinating federal environmental technology programs to provide a one-stop-shop for American businesses interested in partnering with the federal government to develop and diffuse environmental technologies.
  • Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Created new ways to achieve greater environmental results at less cost. Administrative reforms at EPA alone have eliminated more than 20 million hours of paperwork for businesses and communities. That is the equivalent of a half-million work weeks -- or a $600 million savings -- for the private sector. Proposed and advocated legislation providing regulatory flexibility for companies to reduce costs and achieve superior environmental results.

Protecting the Global Environment
A Record of Accomplishment

In our era, the environment has moved to the top of the international agenda because how well a nation honors it will have an impact, for good or ill, not only on the people of that nation, but all across the globe. Preserving the resources we share is crucial not only for the quality of individual environments and health, but also to maintain stability and peace within nations among them.

-President Clinton, 6/26/97

  • Climate Change:Global warming threatens America's economic well-being, ecological systems and quality of life. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made reducing greenhouse gas emissions a top priority. Recent actions include:

      - Negotiating the historic Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that establishes a strong, realistic, and legally binding framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an environmentally strong and economically sound way.

      - Proposing a $6.3 billion package of tax cuts and R&D investments to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

      - Announcing new ENERGY STAR partnerships with industry to promote energy-saving commercial buildings, TVS and VCRs with the potential to save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity bills and significantly curb greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Protecting the world's oceans: Fought for creation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an area of more than 12 million square miles off the coast of Antarctica. Worked hard to secure a historic, legally binding treaty to protect migratory fish stocks. Led the world in calling for a global ban on ocean dumping of low-level radioactive waste.
  • Phaseout of Persistent Pollutants: Leading global negotiations to phaseout 12 of the most dangerous, persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and DDT that threaten health and safety around the world.
  • Stratospheric Ozone: Successfully completed phaseout of CFCs and other major ozone depleting substances.
  • Advancing Environmental Interests Worldwide: From climate change to rapid population growth to the spread of ocean pollution, the Administration is putting global environmental issues where they belong - in the mainstream of U.S. foreign policy.

April 21, 1998

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