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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Clinton Administration Takes a Stand

Air Date: Week of November 3, 1995

Vice President Gore recently announced that President Clinton will veto any bill that includes provisions for oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wilderness Refuge. Terry FitzPatrick reports on the tough new talk coming from the White House on the Alaskan oil drilling question.

Transcript

CURWOOD: This is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. As House and Senate Republicans begin reconciling their different versions of the Federal budget, the Clinton Administration is toughening its stance on cuts affecting the environment. Vice President Al Gore is predicting that the Republicans don't have the votes to enact many of the changes they're proposing. And the Vice President is pledging that the White House won't cave in to Republican demands for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Living on Earth's Terry FitzPatrick has more.

FITZPATRICK: President Clinton has threatened to veto a wide range of Republican-backed bills involving the environment, including measures to scale back the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service. Now, he says he'll veto the entire Federal budget, because it contains a rider opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. However, Clinton has backed down on the only environmental veto of his administration. Earlier this year, he rejected a budget measure that allowed logging of trees damaged by forest fires. Then, Clinton turned around and approved the salvage logging bill with only minor changes. Vice President Gore says that won't happen again. He says Clinton will not give in when it comes to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWAR.

GORE: Any reconciliation bill that opens ANWAR to drilling, he will veto. Period. Doesn't matter what else is in the bill. If they satisfied us on 100% of every single, of every other item in that bill, and they opened ANWAR to drilling, he will veto it.

FITZPATRICK: Gore's tough rhetoric came in a speech before the Society of Environmental Journalists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It reaffirms the Administration's belief that the Republican revolution is foundering on issues concerning the environment, and that there is political ground to be made by the Democrats. Congressional leaders have seen growing defections of GOP moderates on bills relaxing pollution regulations. Gore says the Republicans know they're vulnerable on the environment. As proof, he quoted a recent memo advising GOP members of Congress to shore up their environmental image by attending a tree planting or cleaning up a park. "The time to act is now," the memo says, "before your opponents can label your efforts craven election-year gimmicks."

GORE: It then proceeds to list a menu full of craven election-year gimmicks. This document, and the approach it represents, is breeding ground for cynicism. It describes in some detail how elected officials can hoodwink their constituents to pretend that they're in sync with public concerns for safe and clean water, fresh air, and sustainable lands.

FITZPATRICK: Gore claims the political tide is turning on environmental issues. But it's unclear if the Administration can get its way through a veto showdown with Congress. But winning the Congressional debate may not be the Administration's only concern. Both sides seem to sense the power of environmental issues with voters, and are jockeying for position as they look ahead to the '96 elections. For Living on Earth, I'm Terry FitzPatrick in Boston.

 

 

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