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EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner

Free Media
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Monday, Aug. 14, 2000; 2:45 p.m. EDT

During Al Gore's time in the Senate, Carol M. Browner was one of the Tennessee lawmaker's closest aides on one on his pet issues -- the environment. In the Clinton administration, she served with Gore again, this time as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Browner will answer your questions in a live online discussion at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 14. The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Free Media: Good afternoon, Ms. Browner, and welcome. Environmentalists have complained that Vice President Gore has not fulfilled his promises about conservation and environmental clean-up during the past eight years. How do you respond to the criticism?

Carol M. Browner: Vice President Gore has been at the forefront of every major environmental and public health fight in this country for more than a decade -- in the House of Representatives, in the Senate and as vice president. Under his leadership, the administration has cleaned up more -- 3 times more -- of the largest toxic waste dumps than the Reagan and Bush administrations together. He has led the way in fighting the Republicans in Congress who sought not once, but twice, too literally shut down the EPA, denied funds for enforcement of environmental standards for air and water pollution, toxic waste cleanups and even went so far as to adopt environmental riders that would have specifically prohibited EPA from enforcing environmental requirements on the largest polluters. Make no doubt about it, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are true environmental leaders, have been and will be.

Fredericksburg, Va.: Last year you described the decision in the American Trucking Associations case -- i.e., the NAAQS litigation -- by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as "bizarre." That case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Do you still think the decision by the court was "bizarre"?

Carol M. Browner: Later this year the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case concerning EPA's tough new air pollution standards for ozone and fine particles -- smog and soot. Many legal experts consider this to be one of the most important cases before the Supreme Court this coming session. At issues is whether or not EPA can set public health air pollution standards based on the best available science -- a provision of the Clean Air Act that has been reconfirmed by Congress more than once and relied on by the EPA for the last 25 years. After EPA set the toughest air pollution standards ever, based on 80 plus peer reviewed scientific studies, some in industry that would be required to reduce their pollution, sued EPA. The lower court relied on a constitutional principle that has not been used for more than 70 years. The court agreed that EPA had adequate science to make the decision, but said that Congress in requiring EPA to set public health air pollution standards had given an unconstitutional amount of authority to EPA. The ramifications of this case could go well beyond EPA's clean air work to any number of other environmental and public health programs.

Washington, D.C.: We met when I was press secretary to Gov. Glendening in Maryland and you attended a tree planting ceremony near the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. I also worked [in a previous life] with a current colleague of yours, Bob Perciasepe. We all know that Al Gore has a strong interest in, and concern for, the environment. What is less known is George W. Bush's environmental record in Texas. Do you know his record in the environmental area since he's been governor?

Carol M. Browner: Make no doubt about it, the differences are clear. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have consistently demonstrated their commitment to the environment for more than two decades.
A couple of facts on Gov. Bush's environmental record:
*Houston's air has gotten so dirty, it now has the worst air pollution in the country.
*Texas is 49th in the nation in per capita environmental spending.
*Texas is third worst in the country for toxic water pollution.
A few facts on Mr. Cheney's congressional votes:
*He was one of only 21 members of Congress to vote against the Safe Drinking Water Act conference report.
*He repeatedly voted against Clean Water Act Reauthorization.
*He voted against Superfund Toxic Waste Cleanup.
*He voted against the Public's Right to Know about toxic chemicals in their neighborhoods.

Free Media: That was our last question today for EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. Thanks so much to Ms. Browner, and to everyone who joined us.

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