President Clinton and Vice President Gore:
Protecting Our Environment and Public Health
An Agenda for Action

President Clinton and Vice President Gore are leading the fight for a clean, healthy environment. They blocked Congressional attempts to weaken more than 25 years of environmental and public health protections, and they are pioneering collaborative approaches and common-sense reforms to safeguard our environment while promoting economic growth.

Key priorities in 1999 include:

  • Expanding federal efforts to preserve our lands legacy, and creating a permanent funding stream to sustain these efforts in the 21st century.

  • Providing new tools and resources to state and local governments to preserve green space, ease traffic congestion and build more livable communities.

  • Spurring clean, efficient energy technology, and voluntary efforts by industry, to help meet the challenge of global warming.

  • Strengthening efforts to protect public health by updating air quality standards, restoring rivers and lakes, combating childhood asthma, and cleaning up toxic waste.

Saving Our Natural Treasures

At the start of this century, President Theodore Roosevelt called on Americans to save the best of our natural endowment for all time. President Clinton has continued to fulfill this vision by protecting Yellowstone Park from mining, creating a 1.7 million-acre national monument in Utah's spectacular red-rock country, and forging a historic agreement to save ancient California redwoods. New initiatives to protect our land, oceans and wildlife resources include:

Preserving America's Lands Legacy. President Clinton's $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative -- the largest one-year investment ever proposed for the protection of America's land and coastal resources -- charts a new conservation vision for the 21st century. Its goal: preserving irreplaceable pieces of our natural legacy within easy reach of every citizen.

While continuing the Administration's commitment to saving America's "crown jewels," Lands Legacy also provides significant new resources to state, local, and tribal governments to help preserve natural wonders in our very backyards that grow scarcer every day. This FY 2000 initiative, a 124 percent increase over FY 1999, would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million for the first time. And to sustain these efforts through the next century, the President will work with Congress to create a permanent funding stream beginning in FY 2001. Lands Legacy includes $183 million to protect ocean and coastal resources (see below), as well as:

  • $413 million for federal acquisition of key natural and historic sites across the country. Priorities include critical lands in the Mojave Desert and Florida's Everglades, Civil War battlefields, and the Lewis and Clark Trail.
  • $434 million to state and local governments to preserve local green spaces, including $150 million in land acquisition grants, $50 million for open space planning, $100 million to protect threatened farmland and forests, $44 million for urban parks and urban forests, and $80 million for innovative endangered species protections.

Restoring Salmon and Other Endangered Species. The Clinton-Gore Administration has pioneered the use of flexible, collaborative tools to protect threatened and endangered species. For instance, some 400 habitat conservation plans forged over the past six years or now under development will protect habitat and species across 9.2 million acres while providing landowners the certainty they need to effectively manage their lands. Eleven species were removed from the endangered species list last year -- the 25th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act -- and several others will be proposed for delisting in 1999. To strengthen these efforts, the President is proposing:

A New Partnership for Salmon Recovery - The President's FY 2000 budget includes $100 million for a new Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund to help state, local and tribal governments restore thriving runs of wild chinook, steelhead, sockeye and coho salmon. The funds, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by state or local contributions, can be used to purchase conservation easements, plant trees and other vegetation, rebuild culverts, map watersheds, stabilize stream banks, and undertake other projects to restore salmon habitat and spawning grounds.

Increased Funding for Species Protections - The budget also includes $181 million, a 40 percent increase, for endangered species programs. The increases would support habitat conservation planning and other collaborative efforts with landowners, states and local governments to restore ailing species and keep others from being declared threatened or endangered.

A New Century for America's Forests. America's 155 national forests are our leading source of outdoor recreation -- visited more than twice as often as our national parks -- and the source of 80 percent of the nation's fresh water. An ambitious new science-based agenda for the national forests places greater emphasis on recreation, wildlife and water quality, while reforming logging practices to ensure steady, sustainable supplies of timber and jobs. Key elements include:

Road Building Moratorium - An 18-month road building moratorium announced on February 11 will allow a scientific review to guide decisions on the future of "roadless areas," which include some of America's last wilds. The proposal is part of a broader science-based strategy to better manage forest roads by deciding where new ones can be built, which existing ones should be maintained, and which can be decommissioned.

Sustaining Rural Communities - To ensure steady federal support for rural roads and schools, the Administration is proposing to substitute fixed funding levels for the present system, which links county revenues to timber harvests that may rise or fall.

Protecting Our Oceans and Coasts. At the National Ocean Conference last year in Monterey, President Clinton extended for 10 years the moratorium on offshore oil leasing and launched several new initiatives to explore, protect and restore ocean resources. To fund these initiatives, the President's FY 2000 budget includes $52 million for a state-of-the-art ocean research vessel and -- through the Lands Legacy Initiative (see above) -- $29 million for national marine sanctuaries, $90 million to help coastal states develop "smart growth" strategies, $25 million to restore declining fisheries, $10 million to research and protect coral reefs, and $19 million to expand the National Estuarine Research Reserve system.

Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century

Across America, there is growing recognition that a healthy environment helps sustain economic growth and strong communities. Through efforts like brownfields cleanup and redevelopment and the American Heritage Rivers initiative, the Clinton-Gore Administration is helping communities restore the environment while creating new jobs and economic opportunity. Initiatives to help communities grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth include:

Livability Agenda. The President's FY 2000 budget includes an additional $1.3 billion, plus tax incentives, to provide new tools and resources to help states and local communities preserve green space, ease traffic congestion, and pursue collaborative "smart growth" strategies. Key elements include:

Better America Bonds. A new financing tool generating $9.5 billion in bond authority over five years for investments by state, local, and tribal governments to preserve green space, create or restore urban parks, protect water quality, and clean up brownfields. The Bonds would be supported by tax credits totaling almost $700 million over five years.

Easing Traffic Congestion. $1.8 billion for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, which supports state and local efforts to simultaneously ease congestion and reduce air pollution; and $566 million for Environmental Enhancements, which supports projects such as renovating historic rail stations and creating bicycle and pedestrian paths.

National Town Meeting. The President's Council on Sustainable Development, in partnership with business and community leaders from across the country, will convene the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America on May 2-5 in Detroit. Thousands of citizens, elected officials, and industry representatives will share experiences and strategies for building more livable communities. The Meeting also will showcase cutting-edge technologies that will be the foundation of sustainable goods, services, and business practices in the 21st century.

American Heritage Rivers. To encourage community-based efforts to restore and protect rivers and riverfronts, President Clinton last year designated 14 rivers across the country as American Heritage Rivers. Federal agencies are now working with communities along these rivers to help them tap federal resources to carry out their economic and environmental revitalization plans.

Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming

The last two years were the warmest on record and the extreme weather of the past year -- heat waves, floods, ice storms, and drought -- are a taste of what future generations may endure if we do not meet the challenge of global warming. The Administration's climate change strategy promotes common-sense, market-based efforts at home and abroad to achieve cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. leadership was critical in achieving a strong, realistic climate change protocol in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, and agreement a year later in Buenos Aires on steps to make the promise of Kyoto a reality.

In the coming year, the United States will continue its diplomatic efforts to secure meaningful participation by developing countries in meeting this global challenge. At the same time, the Administration is committed to stepping up efforts to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases:

Clean Air Partnership Fund. The President's FY 2000 budget includes $200 million to provide grants to state and local governments for projects that achieve early reductions in both greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants such as soot and smog.

Climate Change Technology Initiative. The budget also proposes $3.6 billion in tax credits over five years for renewable energy and for the purchase of energy-efficient homes, cars and appliances; and $1.4 billion in FY 2000, a 34 percent increase, to research, develop and deploy clean energy technologies and energy-efficient practices.

Credit for Early Action. The Administration is committed to working with industry and Congress to pass legislation to reward companies taking early, voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration.

Safeguarding Air, Water and Public Health

A clean, healthy environment is critical to the health of our children and our communities. Over the past six years, the Administration has launched major efforts to improve air quality, curb water pollution, protect children's health, expand communities' right to know about toxic threats, and speed the cleanup of toxic waste sites. Tough enforcement of our nation's environmental laws has been a top priority. Efforts over the coming year include:

Restoring Rivers, Lakes and Coastal Waters. President Clinton last year launched the Clean Water Action Plan to help clean up the 40 percent of America's surveyed waterways still too polluted for fishing or swimming. This five-year interagency initiative provides new tools and resources to states and communities to restore wetlands and prevent the contamination of beaches, fish and drinking water sources. For FY 1999, the President secured $1.6 billion, a 14 percent increase, to begin carrying out the Plan.

For FY 2000, the President is proposing $2 billion in discretionary spending -- a 20 percent increase -- and $300 million in mandatory spending to continue this effort. This includes:

Assistance to States and Communities. To provide communities flexibility to meet their most pressing clean water needs, the budget provides states the option of setting aside 20 percent of their clean water revolving loan grants -- $160 million in all - to combat polluted runoff and protect coasts and estuaries.

Restoring California's Bay-Delta. $75 million to continue ecosystem restoration activities in California's Bay-Delta watershed, and a $20 million increase to help improve water use efficiency, water quality, and watershed management.

Restoring the Everglades. $312 million, about a 40 percent increase, to continue federal, state, local, and tribal efforts to restore Florida's Everglades, the most extensive ecosystem restoration ever undertaken in the United States.

Incentives to Farmers. $300 million, a 72 percent increase, for the mandatory Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps farmers prevent polluted runoff.

Fighting Smog and Other Harmful Air Pollutants. Two years ago, the Administration adopted tough new 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. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a flexible, market-based strategy to help states and industry meet the new standards as cost-effectively as possible.

Cleaner Cars for the 21st Century. To continue making progress toward cleaner air, EPA is assessing the need for stricter tailpipe emissions standards and lower-sulfur vehicle fuels. The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act direct EPA to review tailpipe standards and, if necessary to achieve federal air quality goals, to issue revised standards taking effect no sooner than 2004.

Protecting Children from Environmental Health Threats. In 1997, President Clinton issued an Executive Order requiring federal agencies for the first time to ensure that the standards they set take into account special risks to children. New steps to protect our children include:

Reducing Childhood Asthma. The President's FY 2000 budget proposes a new $68 million interagency initiative to reduce the incidence of childhood asthma through a comprehensive national strategy of research, education, outreach, and Medicaid asthma management grants.

Ridding Our Communities of Toxic Waste. Nearly three times as many Superfund cleanups were completed in the past six years as in the previous twelve. Despite Congress' denial of a proposed $650 million increase in cleanup funds, administrative reforms have greatly accelerated the pace and reduced the cost of cleanup. The President is proposing $1.5 billion for Superfund in FY 2000 to continue progress toward the goal of 900 completed cleanups by the end of 2002.

Footer bar icon

White House Button Help Desk Button CEQ Front Page Button

To comment on this service,
send feedback to the Web Development Team.