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Al Gore on Environment

2000 Democratic Nominee for President; Former Vice President


Over-representation appropriate for global warming dangers

What about all the global warming evidence presented in Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth"? In 2007, a British court ruled that teachers were required to warn students that it was a political work. Some of the major falsehoods the court identified in the film include:Gore admitted in Grist magazine: "I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous [global warming] is."
Source: Last Line of Defense, by Ken Cuccinelli, p.181-182 , Feb 12, 2013

Against mountaintop mining in WV; for less water flows in MO

Mountaintop mining was an important issue in West Virginia. It was critical to keeping WV coal competitive and West Virginians employed. We were for it; Gore wholeheartedly opposed it. IA and MO farmers, meanwhile, were concerned about efforts to withhold water flowing into the Missouri River. They depended on the water flows to ship their crops on barges. Gore, however, was held hostage to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), who preferred to keep the water penned up in reservoirs in his state. Gore said nothing; we spoke out in favor. New Mexicans were worried that environmentalists would shut down development in the state in order to save the Rio Grande minnow--a concern Bush shared and Gore seemed unaware of. And communities in the Pacific Northwest were all spun up by calls from environmentalists to destroy the region's dams, a source of jobs and inexpensive green power. We wanted the dams preserved. Banging away on these issue was vital to our efforts, even though they were never picked up by the national media.
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.159 , Mar 9, 2010

OpEd: Hurt in 2000 debates by fibbing & sighing

In the first of the 2000 debates, Gore's most troublesome fib was his claim he had "accompanied [FEMA director] James Lee Witt down to Texas" to help oversee the taming of fires in Parker County. Karen Hughes immediately spat out, "That's not true." She had been with Bush and Witt touring the fires--Gore wasn't there. Karen was sure of it. At debate's end, we made hay with his fabricated story. Gore's statement was so easily refuted that reporters explored the other untruths we gave them.

I was backstage watching the debate directly from a limited camera feed. I had missed the debate's most important message: Gore's sighing, huffing-and-puffing performance, caught on camera for ordinary viewers. He looked as if he were auditioning for the role of the Big Bad Wolf from "The Three Little Pigs." He went from unlikable for some swing voters to intensely unlikable.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.186-187 , Mar 9, 2010

Changed EPA rules about bacteria tests in bottled water

As part of his health kick, Gore arranged to have bottled water delivery and a refrigerated dispenser at the Vice Presidential residence. As part of routine security precautions, the Secret Service would test the water at the vice president's residence. "They've got this phenomenal water purification system in both the White House and the vice president's residence," says a former agent. "We would test the water once a month, samples from all the sinks and taps." But the bottled water was not being tested. So the Secret Service sent samples of the water to the Environmental Protection Agency for testing. Two days later, EPA called; a shocked technician said the water at the vice president's residence was laced with bacteria. "He said the EPA had to expand its graph to be able to count the number of bacteria," an agent recalls. "The water could cause headaches, diarrhea, and stomachaches." As a result of the test findings, the EPA confiscated huge batches of water from the bottled water company.
Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by R. Kessler, p.149-150 , Jun 29, 2009

2000: Avoided passion by avoiding talking about environment

Gore lost the 2000 election in part because he came across as a robotic candidate. After the election, Gore began speaking out on the environment with a passion that electrified audiences.

Gore's campaign consultants had advised him to avoid talking about the environment because it wasn't a first-tier issue. What they missed was that it moved Gore and allowed him to demonstrate his leadership. By depriving him of his most effective passion, they weakened him as a candidate. Gore lost the 2000 election in part because he came across as a robotic candidate. After the election, Gore began speaking out on the environment with a passion that electrified audiences.

Gore's campaign consultants had advised him to avoid talking about the environment because it wasn't a first-tier issue. What they missed was that it moved Gore and allowed him to demonstrate his leadership. By depriving him of his most effective passion, they weakened him as a candidate.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.107 , Aug 25, 2008

Sense of obligation has been replaced by individual rights

In addition to favoring science and innovation over red tape and litigation, we must reject an approach to the environment that relies on apocalyptic warnings.

In every instance the danger was apocalyptic, science and technology were major threats, and the free market was hazardous. Big government, big regulation, centralized bureaucratic controls, and higher taxes were the solution.

Former Vice President Al Gore wrote in his 1992 book "Earth in the Balance", "We have tilted so far toward individual rights and so far away from any sense of obligation that it is now difficult to muster an adequate defense of any rights vested in the community at large or the nation--much less rights properly vested in all humankind or in posterity."

The danger here is that private property rights & individual liberty could be taken away in favor of some collectivist & non-democratic elite's interpretation of what is needed. The level of power that this would give to international bureaucrats is almost beyond belief.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.197-198 , Dec 18, 2007

"Earth in the Balance" one reason Clinton asked him to be VP

Al Gore has been warning us of the dangers of climate change for more than 20 years. His landmark book, "Earth in the Balance" made a deep impression on me and was one of the reasons I asked him to be my running mate in 1992.

In 1993, we included as part of the Deficit Reduction Act a small carbon tax that would have led to more conservation. We convinced the House to pass it, but it died in the Senate. After that, we pursued a partnership with the US automakers to develop a very high-mileage car, took steps to increase energy efficiency in the federal government, which had the effect of taking several hundred thousand cars off the road, increased research, and negotiated the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty to howls that it would destroy the economy. Virtually the entire Senate voted for a resolution opposing the treaty even before I could submit it for ratification. In my second term, I gave what I thought was a compelling speech about climate change, which elicited a giant yawn.

Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p.154-155 , Sep 4, 2007

To let earth continue warming would be deeply immoral

In Antarctica, measurements of CO2 concentrations and temperatures go back 650,000 years. At no point in the last 650,000 years before the pre-industrial era did the CO2 concentration go above 300 parts per million (ppm). Where CO2 is now--350 ppm--is way above anything measured in the prior 650,000-year record.

There is not a single part of this 650,000-year record--no fact, date, or number--that is controversial in any way or in dispute by anybody. To the extent that there is a controversy at all, it is that a few people in some of the less responsible coal, oil, and utility companies say, “So what? That’s not going to cause any problem.”

[Does temperature follow CO2 levels?] It’s a complicated relationship, but when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature increases because more heat from the Sun is trapped.

But if we allow this to happen, it would be deeply and unforgivably immoral. it would condemn coming generations to a catastrophically diminished future.

Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p. 67 , May 26, 2006

Use market capitalism as ally of environmentalism

One of the keys to solving the climate crisis involves finding ways to use the powerful force of market capitalism as an ally. And more than anything else, that requires accurate measurements of the real consequences--positive and negative--of all the important economic choices we make.

The environmental impact of our economic choices has often been ignored because traditional business accounting has allowed these factors to be labeled “externalities” and routinely excluded from the balance sheet.

Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p.270 , May 26, 2006

Humans can impact earth’s ecology; especially the atmosphere

Many people today assume mistakenly that the Earth is so big that we humans cannot possibly have any major impact on the way our planet’s ecological system operates. That may have been true at one time, but it is not the case any more. We have grown so numerous and our technologies have become so powerful that we are now capable of having a significant influence on many parts of the Earth’s environment. The must vulnerable part of the Earth’s ecological system is the atmosphere. It is vulnerable because it is so thin. Indeed, the Earth’s atmosphere is so think that we have the capacity to dramatically alter the concentration of some o fit basic molecular components. In particular, we have vastly increased the amount of carbon dioxide--the most important of the so-called greenhouse gases.
Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p. 22-25 , May 26, 2006

Will protect Chicago from being as polluted as Houston

Gore said, “I’m hearing a powerful, powerful message here.” He focused on Bush’s tenure as two-term governor of Texas, particularly criticizing Texas’ problems with air pollution. “Houston is now America’s dirtiest city. As someone once said, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ You don’t want the Chicago skyline to look like the Houston skyline.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times , Nov 2, 2000

Ban oil and gas drilling off Florida coast

Everyone in Tampa Bay knows that Florida depends on clean beaches and clean air. While my opponent refuses to take a clear stand on this, I will. So let me pledge to you again, I will ban all new oil and gas drilling off of the coast of Florida and California.
Source: Speech in Kissimmee, Florida , Nov 1, 2000

Texas is the smoggiest state with the smoggiest city in US

Gore described his opponent as the governor of “the smoggiest state with the smoggiest city” in the country and said Bush’s “idea of environmental protection is putting big polluters in charge of our environmental laws.” Gore kept up his attack on Bush’s tax cut plan and priorities to deal with the federal surplus, but he threw in special barbs that dealt with the Republican candidate’s alliance with the oil industry in Texas. Gore accused Bush of wanting to squander the surplus on tax breaks for the “wealthiest of the wealthy” while planning to exploit a wilderness at the behest of oil interests. “He said he’ll allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Gore, describing the area as “one of our greatest environmental treasures.”

“It would take years & years of development, which would cause decades of environmental damage, to reap just a few months of increased oil supply,” he said. “I don’t believe we can build and sustain prosperity by despoiling our environment.

Source: Curtis Wilkie, Boston Globe, p. A16 , Oct 31, 2000

Continue & do more cleanup of Great Lakes

Gore put special emphasis on the Great Lakes yesterday. Speaking of Lake Michigan, he said, “the lake is cleaner than it has been in years and the fish are coming back. I pledge to do more to make the lakes as great as they truly can be: to cut the mercury from power plants that makes fish dangerous to eat, to prevent fresh-water diversion, to clean up toxic hot spots, to take on invasive species, and to work with local communities to ensure that pollution never closes our beautiful beaches again.”
Source: Curtis Wilkie, Boston Globe, p. A16 , Oct 31, 2000

A clean environment and a healthy economy do not conflict

Q: What will you do to protect the environment?

GORE: Holding on to the old argument that the environment and the economy are in conflict is really outdated. The governor is for letting the oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Houston’s just become the smoggiest city in the country and Texas is No. 1 in industrial pollution. I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest , Oct 11, 2000

Incentives for technology; but no voluntary regulations

GORE [to Bush]: He’s right that I’m not in favor of energy taxes. I am in favor of tax cuts to encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these new kinds of technologies and let me say again, Detroit is raring to go on that. We differ on whether or not pollution controls ought to be voluntary. I don’t think you can get results that way.

BUSH: I don’t believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I believe Washington ought to set standards, but we ought to be collaborative at the local levels.

Q: Would the federal government still have some new regulations to pass?

BUSH: Sure, absolutely, so long as they’re based upon science and they’re reasonable, so long as people have input.

GORE: I’m not for command and control techniques either. I’m for working with the groups, not just with industry but also with the citizens groups and local communities to control sprawl in ways that the local communities themselves come up with.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University , Oct 11, 2000

Invest in clean water, air, & land in “Environmental Decade”

Gore has called for making the next 10 years the Environment Decade, which would include initiatives to: protect forests, rivers and public lands so that families have places where they can hike, climb and experience nature firsthand; ensure that the nation’s air and water is cleaned up; encourage smarter growth and more livable communities; invest more in conservation, renewable energy and in technologies that combat pollution and global warming.
Source: Press Release, Focus on Environment , Aug 19, 2000

Trust Fund for the Environment to foster protection & growth

    Gore has called for making the next ten years the Environment Decade, an initiative that includes six broad goals:
  1. Dedicating part of the expected budget surplus to create a new National Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund;
  2. Protecting forests, rivers and public lands so that families have places where they can hike and climb, and experience nature first hand;
  3. Ensuring that the nation’s air and water are cleaned up;
  4. Encouraging smarter growth and more livable communities so every community can grow according to its own values, in a way that preserves its own precious character;
  5. Investing more in conservation, renewable energy and in fast-growing technologies that combat pollution; and
  6. Taking steps - not just in this country, but everywhere in the world - to reverse the rise in global warming.
Source: Press Release, “Sierra Club Endorses Gore” , Jul 24, 2000

Ozone protection is working; keep up diligence

Even as we seek to decrease ozone levels near the surface of the earth, where they harm us, we have made great progress in restoring the ozone layer high in the upper atmosphere, where it protects us. Our worldwide ban on ozone-depleting substances is beginning to heal the delicate stratospheric ozone layer, which acts as a shield against cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. In the last two years, we have measured an actual decrease in these substances in the stratosphere. If we remain diligent, we will be able to say in the future that because the world joined together to face this global problem head on, banning the chemical culprits and developing low-cost substitutes, the ozone hole over Antarctica will close by 2050, over the next two generations.
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xi , Apr 23, 2000

Big Lie: good environment is bad economics

The argument made against this book is that “excessive” protection of the environment hurts the economy. The lobbyists’ definition of excessive is almost always the same: any measure that gets in the way of short-term gain for their clients. It’s never stated this way, but it’s often little more than an appeal to tolerate profits that depend on ignoring pollution. The big lie in this debate is that a good environment is bad economics.

We ought to seek, and we can find, sustainable growth that doesn’t undermine human health or the natural ecosystems that support life. The Clinton-Gore administration has been committed to that ideal. We have our environmental critics, but I think it’s fair to say that in these years, we’ve had the strongest economy in the world, while we’ve repeatedly strengthened environmental protections, all across the board.

The bottom line is that there is not only an environment to be saved but money to be made in reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases.

Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xiii & xviii , Apr 23, 2000

Strengthen CAA; polluters pay for air cleanup

Last November, under pressure from utility lobbies, the majority in Congress sought to write dozens of loopholes into the Clean Air Act, weakening enforcement of the law against old and dirty power plants. Instead, we need tough standards for soot and smog, with reasonable flexibility but a real timetable for implementation. In the Environment Decade, polluters should pay to clean up the pollution they’ve created rather than impose the burden on taxpayers.
Source: New foreword to Earth in the Balance, p. xix , Apr 23, 2000

Market-based goals for power plants’ air pollution

Source: Press Release , Apr 22, 2000

Environmental justice and economic revival go hand-in-hand

Q: Would you protect communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by pollution?
A: I was a principal sponsor of the Environmental Justice Act. We ought to have clean air and clean water and we ought to have a president who’s willing to fight for them. And, incidentally, we can improve our economy and create millions of good new jobs if we go about building the new technologies that can help us clean up the environment.
Source: Democrat debate in Harlem, NYC , Feb 21, 2000

Work with business to solve environmental problems

[Gore seeks] public-private partnerships and emphasizes voluntary measures and flexibility whenever possible to meet crucial public health and natural resource challenges. When conflict arose over the endangered spotted owl,[Gore’s] forest plan protected the species while putting the timber economy on a sound footing. Gore joined with the Big Three automakers to help industry efforts to triple the fuel-efficiency of today’s vehicles without increasing cost or reducing quality and safety.
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/environ.html 5/15/99 , May 15, 1999

If we do nothing else, save the rain forest

The most dangerous form of deforestation is the destruction of the rain forests, especially the tropical rain forests clustered around the equator. These are the most important sources of biological diversity on earth. For that reason, most biologists believe that the rapid destruction of the tropical rain forests and the irretrievable loss of the living species dying along with them, represent the single most serious damage to nature now occurring.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 116 , Jul 2, 1993

The US should lead the global environmental movement

If the history of this century is any guide, it is safe to say that if we do not lead the world on this issue, the changes of accomplishing the massive changes necessary to save the global environment will be negligible. If the United States does choose to lead, however, the possibility of success becomes much greater. there would almost certainly be substantial economic and geopolitical benefits for the United States.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 176-177 , Jul 2, 1993

Calculate environmental impact when measuring profit

The heavy use of pesticides may ensure that the grain we grow achieves the highest possible short-term profits, but the excessive use of pesticides poisons the groundwater reservoirs beneath the field. When we add up the costs and benefits of growing the grain, the loss of that freshwater resource will be ignored. And largely because we have failed to measure the economic value of clean, fresh groundwater, we have contaminated more than half of all the underground reservoirs in the US.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 184 , Jul 2, 1993

Civilization and the earth are increasingly in conflict

The disharmony in our relationship to the earth, which stems in part from our addiction to a pattern of consuming ever-larger quantities of the resources of the earth, is now manifest in successive crises. The loss of 1-« acres of rain forest every second; the acceleration of the natural extinction rate; the ozone hole; the possible destruction of the climate balance that makes our earth livable-all these suggest the increasingly violent collision between human civilization and the natural world.
Source: Earth in the Balance, page 223 , Jul 2, 1993


Al Gore on Brownfields + Parks

No logging in roadless forests; protect 40M acres

 BushGore
ForestsOpposes ban on logging in roadless areas of national forests; supports Tropical Forest Conservation ActSupports protection of 40 million acres of roadless national forests from logging
Air PollutionLobbied to weaken Clean Air Act enforcementNew clean air standards approved under Clinton/Gore
Water PollutionBush’s position papers contain no mention of clean waterBacks federal regulations on factory-farm runoff; worked to strengthen Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act
Brownfield CleanupSupports “more flexibility” in cleanup regulations; supports liability protection for re-developersSupports existing cleanup regulations; under Clinton/Gore, three times as many toxic waste sites cleaned up as in previous 12 years
Source: Boston Globe, p. A28 , Nov 3, 2000

Pass bipartisan legislation to revitalize contaminated sites

Al Gore today challenged Congress to pass legislation that would help cities revitalize former industrial sites that are contaminated by toxic waste. “There has been broad bipartisan support for the brownfields initiative - in Congress and all across the country. Unfortunately, pollution has some pretty powerful allies. There is legislation before the Congress right now that would help communities create even more success stories, but Congress has a different agenda.”
Source: Press Release “Challenge to ‘Do Nothing’ Congress” , Jul 12, 2000

Transform brownfields into parks with federal investment

Source: Press Release “Challenge to ‘Do Nothing’ Congress” , Jul 12, 2000

Livability Agenda proposes $1 billion for parks

Gore is committed to preserving open spaces, building and renovating parks, improving water quality, and enhancing economic competitiveness by redeveloping old factories known as Brownfields. He has proposed $1 billion in federal funds to promote smart growth policies - leaving all decisions in local and community hands. Gore encourages building new schools as centers of communities, in locations that make sense to the communities, not just to developers.
Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/livable.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

Supports “livability” agenda

The main environmental program that Gore will push is “livability,” a grab-bag of measures to fight urban sprawl, preserve open space and battle traffic congestion.
Source: Time Magazine, p. 65-67 , Apr 26, 1999

Control clean air in National Parks

Gore will announce [today] a new federal push to bring air quality over national parks -- some of which now choke in summer smog -- back to pristine, pre-industrial levels. States [must] adopt pollution controls that steadily improve air quality in each of the next six decades with a goal to eliminating man-made pollution by 2064. For the first time, the government will force states to assess the sources of park air pollution and require some sources to install more sophisticated control technology.
Source: Boston Globe, Sunday April 25, 1999, p.A27, by H. J. Hebert , Apr 25, 1999


Al Gore on Mass Transit + Suburban Sprawl

Replace sprawl with “smart growth”; $7.8B on Everglades

“Rescue of the environment,” insisted Gore in his 1992 book, must become “the central organizing principle for civilization.” This work put him firmly in the green camp, but in this campaign he has been playing down his greenery. His present proposals, which have disappointed many greens, essentially reaffirm the command-and-control approach of the past. Gore:
  • takes credit for the creation of the Superfund, and promises more cooperative efforts by all layers of government to clean up all brownfield sites
  • thinks that government can replace sprawl with “smart growth”
  • wants to help cities finance their revival with “Better America” bonds and tax credits
  • promises massive investments in public transportation
  • vows to push for better regional cooperation among governments on such issues as crime, traffic and air pollution
  • supports a strong government-led approach to dealing with air and water pollution
  • backs a $7.8 billion scheme to clean up and restore the Everglades.
    Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special , Sep 30, 2000

    Major commitment to build high-speed Amtrak rail systems

    Q: Should the federal government be spending more to help Amtrak expand intercity rail travel and develop high-speed corridors??

    A: With growing congestion on our highways and airports, it’s time to give the American people a fast and efficient alternative for traveling between our communities. High-speed rail reduces highway and airport congestion, improves air quality, stimulates the economy, and broadens the scope of personal choice for traveling between our communities. That is why, as part of my Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund, I am proposing a major commitment to build high-speed rail systems in major transportation corridors across the nation. As president, I will fight for new grants to Amtrak and the states for improving and expanding passenger rail routes and corridors. And I will work to secure funding to help communities improve rail stations - to help rebuild these vital economic centers in cities and small towns across America.

    Source: Associated Press , Sep 17, 2000

    Both gas & public transit should be affordable & available

    The Vice President announced new investments in light rail systems, cleaner buses and high-speed trains that would help cut traffic, reduce smog and end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Gore also called for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hearings so the public can hear directly from oil company executives. He said: “You deserve the independence to get in your car and drive anywhere you want to go, on your own schedule, without emptying your wallet at every filling station. You should also have the choice to park your car at a light rail station and be moved swiftly into a newly-thriving downtown -- without having to worry about gridlock, a parking lot or rush-hour traffic. Transportation choices mean real freedom.“
    Source: Press Release, “Energy policy” , Jun 29, 2000

    Clean up and improve existing bus & rail systems

    Gore would help make city buses & school buses safer and cleaner. His plan would reduce traffic congestion by building light rail, adding new lines or stops; or modernizing existing rail systems. Financial incentives would encourage revitalization of neighborhoods around rail stations. New high-speed rail systems and improvements to existing routes would help people travel between communities. Finally, the plan would provide grants to Amtrak and communities to improve rail stations across the nation.
    Source: Press Release, “Energy policy” , Jun 29, 2000

    Gore proposes $2B to counter suburban sprawl

    Al Gore proposed spending $2 billion over ten years to set aside more parkland and combat suburban sprawl. The money would come from a mining industry fee. “All working families deserve easy access to parks and open space, whether they live in the inner city or on the growing edge of suburbia,” he said.
    Source: Boston Globe, p. A8, “Political Briefs” , Nov 15, 1999

    Mass transit to fight suburban sprawl

    By investing in mass transit and light rail, and by helping communities develop alternatives to clogged highways, Gore believes we can reduce traffic and air pollution, and build the stronger sense of community that walkable, bikeable neighborhoods foster. [Gore encourages] regional cooperation on issues like traffic, air pollution, and jobs [which] don’t recognize defined borders, and neither should our solutions.
    Source: www.AlGore2000.com/issues/livable.html 5/16/99 , May 16, 1999

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    Other past presidents on Environment: Al Gore on other issues:
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    Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
    George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
    Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
    Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
    Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
    Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
    Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
    John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
    Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
    Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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