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Earth Day 1997 -- Accomplishments
Protecting the Environment
President Clinton and Vice President Gore
"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
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:
Ensuring Public Health
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.
Safe Drinking Water: 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.
Toxic Waste Clean-ups: Completed as many toxic waste clean-ups in
three years as were completed in the previous 12. Accelerated cleanup of toxic
waste dumps by 20% and significantly reduced cost. At Department of Energy
sites, clean-up is underway at 744 former nuclear facilities, compared to 68
cleaned up in the previous administration.
Attempts to Roll Back Protections: Blocked Republican Congressional
attempts to roll- back 25 years of environment and public health protections.
Vetoed a budget that cut EPA enforcement and Superfund toxic waste clean-ups by
25%. Blocked passage of lobbyist-written bill to dismantle the Clean Water Act.
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. Canceled
dozens of hazardous pesticides while moving safer substitutes into the market
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%.
Clean Water: Blocked 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.
Protecting Our Natural Resources
American Heritage Rivers: Announced initiative to designate ten
American Heritage Rivers this year 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.
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
National Parks: Signed legislation that creates or improves almost
120 national parks, trails, rivers, and historical sites. Created largest park
in lower the 48 states with California Desert Protection Act. Blocked
Republican attempts to close national parks.
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.
Farm Conservation: Proposed and signed into law Farm Bill that
authorizes $2.2 billion in additional funding for conservation programs such as
the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve.
Yellowstone: Reached agreement to halt massive gold mine three miles
outside Yellowstone National Park, protecting the area from toxic runoff and
Arctic Refuge: Vetoed a Republican Congressional bill that would
have opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
Endangered Species Protection: Completed 190 Habitat Conservation
Plans (HCPs) covering 4.4 million acres of public and private land across the
country, compared to 14 before we took office. HCPs are voluntary agreements to
protect open space and wildlife while giving landowners the certainty they need
effectively to manage their land.
Common Sense Environmental Reforms
Recycling: Issued an Executive Order to jump-start the market for
Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Created new ways to achieve
greater environmental results at less cost: administrative reforms at EPA alone
have eliminated more than 15 million hours of paperwork for businesses and
communities -- the equivalent of a quarter-million work weeks for the private
Environmental Technology: Helping American businesses compete more
effectively in the fast-growing global market while creating jobs for American
Revitalizing Communities: Accelerated the cleanup of brownfields --
abandoned, contaminated urban property -- clearing the way for local
redevelopment while protecting green areas outside our cities. Proposed
targeted tax incentive for investors who purchase and clean up old waste sites
in communities across the country.
Protecting the Global Environment
Climate Change: Entered into 119 agreements with electric utilities
to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. These voluntary agreements
represent real reductions of greenhouse gases through many different actions
including efficiency measures, forestry initiatives and electricity generation
from renewable energy.
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 DDT.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD:
President Clinton will continue to support policies that protect our health
and natural resources while making common sense reforms to environmental
Recognizing and restoring outstanding stretches of America's rivers by
selecting ten American Heritage Rivers this year.
Expanding community right-to-know laws and challenging communities to use
the information to work with business to cut pollution.
Cleaning up two-thirds of Superfund sites by 2000 -- 500 more in four
years. 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
Getting tough on criminal polluters by strengthening penalties for the
worst environmental criminals and ensuring that courts can secure polluters'
assets in order to restore the communities they victimize.
Protecting the global environment from climate change by negotiating a
global accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Challenging Congress to pass the President's transportation bill with a
30% increase for congestion and air quality improvements, mass transit, and
support for scenic byways and recreational trails.
Challenging Congress to provide true reform of the Endangered Species Act
to strengthen, not roll back, species protection.
Dramatically reducing paperwork and replacing one-size-fits-all
regulations with result-focused programs.
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 economic