WASHINGTON, DC, April 23, 2002 (ENS) - President George W. Bush picked up hammer and shovel on a working tour of the Adirondack Park near Wilmington, New York yesterday for the 32nd anniversary of Earth Day.
Praising private organizations, land owners, and governments in the Adirondack region for working with each other as opposed to against each other, Bush said that about 200,000 Americans lend their time to the care of our national parks and federal lands.
In remarks at Whiteface Mountain Lodge, he called on Congress to pass his proposed Clear Skies legislation which he said would do more to improve air quality than any other presidential clean air initiative.
Former Vice President Al Gore, Bush's rival in the 2000 presidential election, delivered an Earth Day address to a largely student audience at his alma mater Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Greeted by a standing ovation, he leveled criticism at Bush's environmental policies.
“Our environment is under siege,” Gore, author of "Earth in the Balance," told an audience of about 300. “There is a movement afoot by polluters to dismantle Americans’ capacity to limit their releases of dangerous waste products.”
“When it comes to energy and environmental policy, the Bush administration has brought the oil company representatives out of the lobby and into the Oval Office and let them rewrite America’s environmental laws during secret meetings,” Gore said. “Their first order of business was to withdraw from the global agreement reached in Kyoto [Japan], to begin limiting worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases.”
But Bush told his Adirondack audience that his voluntary approach to cutting the emission of three critical pollutants from power plant emissions will get results. "We will reach our ambitious air quality goals through a market based approach that rewards innovation, reduces cost, and most importantly, guarantees results. Mine is a results oriented administration. When we say we expect results, we mean it."
"We will set mandatory limits on air pollution, with firm deadlines," the President said, "while giving companies the flexibility to find the best ways to meet the mandatory limits."
"Clear Skies legislation, when passed by Congress, will significantly reduce smog and mercury emissions, as well as stop acid rain. It will put more money directly into programs to reduce pollution, so as to meet firm national air quality goals, and put less money into the pockets of lawyers and regulators," said Bush.
Gore jeered at the Bush approach. "The Bush administration's so-called Clean Skies initiative actually allows more toxic mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur pollution than if we enforced the laws on the books today," he said. "It ought to be called the dirty skies initiative."
Gore, currently a professor at Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University, slammed the President for not supporting the re-election of American climate scientist Dr. Robert Watson as head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in favor of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.
“Just as Enron needed auditors that wouldn’t blow the whistle when they lied about future liabilities, Exxon needs a scientific panel that won’t blow the whistle on the future damage that will be caused by global warming,” Gore said.
But Bush said America is in better shape environmentally this Earth Day than it has been in the past. "For three decades, we've acted with clear purpose to prevent needless and, at times, reckless disregard of the air and the water and the soil and the wildlife. This commitment has yielded tremendous progress. Our lakes and rivers are much cleaner than they were on the first Earth Day. Limits on toxic emissions have greatly improved the quality of the air we breathe," the President said.
"We have a duty in our country to make sure our land is preserved, our air is clean, our water is pure, our parks are accessible and open and well preserved. Americans must "be careful of our actions," Bush said. "Good stewardship is a personal responsibility of all of us. And it's a public value."
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