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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 7, 1998
                President Clinton and Vice President Gore:
        Defending Our Environment Against the Congressional Assault

While President Clinton proposes significant new investments to protect our environment and public health, Congress works behind closed doors to roll back protections already in place. The last Congress tried a direct assault on the environment. But the President -- and the American people -- wouldn't stand for it. So this Congress is trying a different tactic: the sneak attack. While refusing to fully fund the President's priorities, Congress is loading up budget bills with special-interest "riders."

Congress Shortchanges Environmental Priorities....

Clean, Safe Water for America. House and Senate budget bills fall $350 million short of the funding requested by the President for his Clean Water Action Plan, a five-year initiative to help communities and farmers clean up the almost 40 percent of America's surveyed waterways still too polluted for fishing and swimming.

Protecting our Natural Treasures. Congress is not only withholding $171 million appropriated last year to acquire fragile lands, but also denying the full increases sought by the President to protect other natural treasures, preserve endangered species, and maintain overburdened national parks and public lands.

Leading the Fight Against Climate Change. Congress refuses to fully fund research investments and tax incentives proposed by the President that would reduce greenhouse gases, save energy and save consumers money through improved energy efficiency and new clean energy technologies.

Doubling the Pace of Toxic Cleanups. Once again holding communities hostage to polluters' demands, Congress is attaching strings to the President's request for an additional $650 million for Superfund cleanups. Without the funding, cleanup could be delayed at up to 171 sites nationwide.

....And Launches a Special-Interest Sneak Attack

Overcutting America's Forests. Substituting politics for science in the management of national forests, several riders would force overcutting of timber, accelerate logging of Alaskan rain forest, and block the Forest Service from updating forest plans as new science becomes available.

Despoiling Parks and Wilderness. One rider would carve a $30 million road through an Alaskan refuge -- the first road ever in designated wilderness. Others would allow intrusive helicopter landings in Alaska wilderness and sanction an unnecessary airstrip within Denali National Park.

Crippling Wildlife Protections. Riders would hinder salmon restoration in the Pacific Northwest, allow continued commercial fishing in wilderness waters of Glacier Bay National Park, and block reintroduction of endangered grizzly bears in remote areas of Idaho and Montana.

Ripping Off Taxpayers. One rider would cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $64 million a year by blocking rules requiring oil companies to pay fair-market royalties for oil from federal lands. Another would block rules that would improve environmental standards for hardrock mining on federal lands, thereby avoiding the need for costly taxpayer-paid cleanups.