Environmentalists Criticize Gore
By Charles Babington
The unusually stern and public rebuke comes from a constituency that the vice president clearly is counting on for support in the 2000 presidential campaign. Gore, who wrote a book titled "Earth in the Balance," has portrayed himself as an environmental champion and leader in combating global warming.
In a four-page letter addressed to Gore, nine prominent environmental organizations expressed "deep disappointment with the lack of an administration proposal to require significant reductions in global warming pollution. We are particularly frustrated that the administration has not sought meaningful emission reductions from either power plants or passenger vehicles."
The letter was signed by the heads of the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Izaak Walton League, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and World Wildlife Fund. Officials said they decided to go public because earlier complaints to Gore and other officials had been ignored.
Todd Stern, White House climate change coordinator, said in response to the letter: "Despite strong resistance in Congress, this administration is moving aggressively on both the domestic and international fronts to meet the challenge of global warming. We believe our common-sense strategy will achieve the necessary emissions reductions while maintaining strong economic growth."
But Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said in an interview that "repeated promises have been broken." He said Clinton and Gore in their 1992 and 1996 campaigns vowed to take "concrete measures" to reduce greenhouse gases that damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. Many such gases come from automobiles and coal-burning electrical power plants.
Clapp and the others did not close the door on supporting Gore. "The American public expects strong environmental leadership from this administration, and particularly from the vice president, and he needs to demonstrate that over the next two years," Clapp said.
The letter said the Clinton administration has not taken steps to achieve the goals it embraced in the 1992 Rio Climate Treaty, which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 levels by 2000.
Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said, "Al Gore has shown for the last six-plus years that you can balance the economy and the environment. We now have both the strongest environment and the strongest economy in a generation."
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company