Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
President Clinton on the Environment

Overview

Appointments: Named well-respected, highly qualified individuals to key environmental posts, including former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt as interior secretary and Carol Browner, Florida's secretary of the environment, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Lands Reform: Made bold proposals to reform grazing, mining and logging policies on federal lands soon after taking office. Abandoned them even more quickly in the face of opposition from special interests in the West and their allies on Capitol Hill.

Wilderness and Parks: Signed the Colorado wilderness and California Desert Protection acts into law. Withdrew lands from new mining claims to protect Yellowstone National Park. Opposes efforts to close national parks and to open Utah wilderness to development. Proposed Everglades restoration program. (Also see vetoes, below.)

Air and Water: Added 286 chemicals to those that companies must report under Right to Know rules, and opposed congressional efforts to block funding for Right to Know program. Proposed reforms of Superfund and Safe Drinking Water Act, thwarted in 103rd Congress. Opposes House-passed Clean (a.k.a. Dirty) Water, risk-assessment and takings legislation.

Key Vetoes

Clinton vetoed bills that included provisions to:
  • Allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Clearcut Alaska's Tongass National Forest.
  • Dramatically weaken protection for California's Mojave National Preserve.
  • Slash the EPA's environmental enforcement budget by 25 percent.
  • Cut funding for international family planning.
  • Block enforcement of wetlands protection standards.

Key Failure

  • Signed clearcut logging rider, a.k.a. "logging without laws," in 1995 budget rescissions bill.

Follow-Through

Below are some of the commitments Clinton made in 1992, and whether or not he kept his promise.
  • Ban offshore drilling. Yes, opposed in California.
  • Create tax incentives for renewable energy sources. Proposed, but blocked by Congress.
  • Increase funding for solar and renewable energy. Yes.
  • Boost recycling. Yes. Executive order requiring federal agencies to buy products with recycled content has stimulated markets for wastepaper.
  • Support higher fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks. No.
  • Work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20-30 percent by 2005. Mainly no.
  • Avoid increased reliance on nuclear energy. Yes. Supported efforts to cut funding for research on new reactors.
  • Ensure that free-trade pacts provide adequate environmental safeguards. No. The NAFTA and GATT agreements supported by Clinton did not include such guarantees.
  • Enforce the Clean Air Act. Yes. More than half the cities that violated smog standards in 1990 are now in compliance.
  • Work to amend the Clean Water Act to include standards on non-point source pollution, or toxic runoff. Yes. Blocked in the 103rd Congress.
  • Support wilderness designation for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yes.
  • Require federal facilities to comply with Community Right to Know law. Yes.


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