President Clinton and Vice President Gore
Protecting Our Environment and Public Health

A Record of Accomplishment

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.

Protecting Our Natural Treasures

  • 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 an historic agreement to halt the massive New World mine three miles outside Yellowstone National Park, protecting the area from toxic runoff and other threats.

  • 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.

  • Headwaters Forest: Reached historic agreement to preserve the ancient redwoods California' s Headwaters Forest. Trees up to 2,000 years old will be saved, protecting critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

  • Preserving Lands: Announced a $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative to expand federal efforts to save America' s natural treasures, and provide significant new resources to states and communities to protect local green spaces. Announced intention to work with Congress to create a permanent funding stream to sustain these efforts in the new century.

  • National Parks: Signed Omnibus Parks legislation that creates or improves almost 120 national parks, trails, rivers, and historical sites. Created the largest park in lower 48 states with the 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 236 major Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) protecting 11.5 million acres and dozens of threatened and endangered species. These voluntary agreements protect habitat while providing landowners the certainty they need to effectively manage their lands.

  • Natural and Historic Sites: Preserving scores of natural and historic sites around the country by securing over $1 billion through the Land and Water Conservation Fund for acquisition of threatened lands. Priorities include completing the Appalachian Trail, protecting Civil War battlefields, and providing critical winter range for Yellowstone bison.

  • National Forests: Implementing an ambitious new science-based agenda for the national forests that places greater emphasis on recreation, wildlife and water quality, while reforming logging practices to ensure steady, sustainable supplies of timber and jobs. Announced an 18-month road building moratorium to allow a scientific review to guide decisions on the future of "roadless areas," which include some of America' s last wilds.

  • Farm Conservation: Providing farmers with new conservation tools by proposing and signing a Farm Bill that authorizes $2.2 billion in additional funding for conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve. Created new federal-state partnerships that targeted over $1 billion -- in partnership with the states of Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington -- to provide incentives for farmers and ranchers to voluntarily remove lands from production to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

    Ensuring Public Health

  • 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.

  • Clean Water: Launched a Clean Water Action Plan to help clean up the 40 percent of America' s surveyed waterways still too polluted for fishing and swimming. The initiative provides states, communities and landowners the tools and resources to target the largest remaining threats to water quality -- polluted runoff from farms and city streets.

  • Toxic Waste Clean-ups: Completed nearly three times as many Superfund clean-ups in six years as 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 on the Superfund list.

  • Community Right-to-Know: Provided communities with access to more information about chemicals released into their air and water. 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 America' s 55,000 water utility companies to provide regular reports to their customers on the quality of their drinking water.

  • 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.

    Sustainable Communities

  • Smart Growth: Launched a nationwide Livability Agenda -- spearheaded by Vice President Gore -- to help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth. The initiative proposes significant new investments to provide communities with new tools and resources to preserve green space, ease traffic congestion, and pursue regional "smart growth" strategies.

  • 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.

  • American Heritage Rivers: Designated fourteen 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.

  • Recycling: Expanded recycling in the federal government with an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to buy and use only recycled printing paper and increase efforts to buy environmentally preferable products. The order harnesses the federal government's $200 billion purchasing power to help create and sustain markets for recycled materials.

  • Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Created new ways to achieve greater environmental results at less cost. Administrative reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency alone have eliminated more than 25 million hours of paperwork a year for businesses and communities. That is the equivalent of more than a half-million work weeks -- or $800 million in savings.

    Protecting the Global Environment

  • 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.

    • Winning significant increases for clean energy research including more than $1 billion in FY99 -- a 25 percent increase -- for research investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. These investments will create jobs, enhance trade, save consumers and businesses money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Forging new partnerships with industry to develop and promote energy-saving cars, homes and appliances with the potential to save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars in electricity bills and significantly curb greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Oceans: Convened a National Ocean Conference in June 1998 that brought together government experts, business executives, scientists, environmentalists, elected officials, and the public to examine opportunities and challenges in restoring and protecting our ocean resources. Issued a directive extending the moratorium on offshore oil leasing for ten years, and permanently barring new leasing in national marine sanctuaries.

  • Phaseout of Persistent Pollutants: Leading global negotiations to phase out 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.

    April 22, 1999

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