Protecting Our Environment and Public Health An Agenda for Action
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:
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 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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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