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The Environment

"Because of its importance to our air, our water, and the fabric of life itself, I believe that we have an obligation to protect the environment for future generations."

- Al Gore

Gore and the Environment
From his leadership in the House to protect air and water quality and pass the original Superfund legislation to clean up dangerous toxic waste sites; to his pioneering House and Senate efforts to fund research into global warming, long before it was widely recognized as a serious threat; to his best-selling book about the environment, "Earth in the Balance" -- Al Gore has been a leading champion of environmental protection for more than two decades. It is a commitment that began when he was a young boy, learning the importance of preventing soil erosion on his family farm in Carthage, Tennessee. And it is a commitment he has carried to the White House, working with President Clinton to produce the cleanest environment in decades -- with cleaner air, cleaner water, and a safer food supply; a record number of toxic waste dumps cleaned up; millions of acres of precious natural lands protected; and a strong international treaty to begin combatting global warming -- in a way that is market-based and realistic, and does not lead to economic cooling.

Al Gore knows that choosing between the economy and the environment is a false choice; in the long run, we can never have one without the other. That is why he has worked to protect the environment in ways that are realistic and achievable -- while helping America to seize the lead in the estimated $400 billion worldwide market for new technologies that clean up the environment.

Protecting Children and Families

One of the greatest obligations of national government is to ensure clean air, clean drinking water, and safe food. That is why the Clinton-Gore administration has enacted 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 with respiratory illnesses; new measures to protect drinking water; aggressive toxic waste clean-ups; and new steps to give communities more information about chemicals released into their air and water. In addition, Vice President Gore fought Congressional attempts to weaken more than 25 years of critical environmental and public health protections.

Protecting the Environment While Creating Jobs

Al Gore believes it is essential to protect the environment in ways that also create jobs and protect economic growth -- by working closely with industry in a spirit of collaboration, not conflict; by forging creative new public-private partnerships in areas such as fuel-efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and tourism and recreation; and by emphasizing voluntary measures and flexibility whenever possible to meet crucial public health and natural resource challenges.

For example, when conflict arose in the Pacific Northwest over the endangered spotted owl, Vice President Gore worked to craft a forest plan that protected the species while putting the timber economy on a sound footing. Al Gore joined with the Big Three automakers to create the Public/Private Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles -- to help industry efforts to triple the fuel-efficiency of today's vehicles without increasing cost or reducing quality and safety. At the same time, through his Reinventing Government initiative, Al Gore has eliminated more than 25 million hours of paperwork a year for businesses and communities seeking to comply with environmental regulations. That is the equivalent of more than half a million work weeks.

Al Gore has also led several successful initiatives to create jobs directly through environmental protection. These includes the cleanup of abandoned, contaminated urban property -- to clear the way for new development and jobs. It also includes the American Heritage Rivers initiative, to enhance the recreational, economic, and environmental value of cherished and historic rivers.

Protecting Natural Treasures

The Clinton-Gore Administration has worked hard to protect precious natural lands and resources, so they can be enjoyed by future generations of Americans. This includes the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, protecting 1.7 million acres of spectacular red rock canyon lands; an agreement to protect Yellowstone National Park from mining, toxic runoff, and other threats; a bold, $1.5 billion plan to help restore the Everglades and ensure safe, clean water for South Florida; an agreement to preserve California's Headwaters Forest, the largest privately-held grove of old-growth redwoods; and the creation and improvement of nearly 120 national parks, trails, rivers, and historical sites.

Click here to read Al Gore's remarks at the 125th anniversary of Yellowstone Park.

Protecting the Global Environment

In the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Al Gore became a recognized expert and leader on global environmental challenges. In particular, he focused on the need to combat global warming, which can lead to serious public health consequences, the loss of desperately-needed crops, and extreme weather -- similar to the kind that has been causing such large losses in the past few years. And 1998 was the hottest year in recorded history. Gore has worked to raise awareness of the problem while forging solutions that are achievable and bring more jobs and growth to America. In fact, many leading corporations are now pledging voluntarily to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this effort, Gore has:

  • Spurred negotiations toward an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an environmentally strong and economically sound way;

  • Helped win significant increases for research in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. These investments will create jobs, enhance trade, save consumers and businesses money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Forged 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.

Click here to read Al Gore's address to the Kyoto Climate Change Conference.

Building More Livable Communities

This January, Al Gore launched a new livability initiative -- 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 help communities preserve green space, ease traffic congestion, and pursue regional "smart growth" strategies.

Click here to read Al Gore's livability address to the American Institute of Architects.

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