Vice President's Environment Initiatives


As we enter the 21st century, Americans know that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Indeed, we today enjoy the cleanest environment in a generation and the longest economic expansion in our nation’s history.

Al Gore has long been at the forefront of efforts to protect our environment and quality of life in ways that promote strong, sustainable economic growth. Since entering public office in 1976 as member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he has fought to improve public health, preserve natural treasures, promote cleaner, energy-efficient business, protect oceans and coasts, reinvent environmental regulation, and combat global warming. His 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, is widely recognized as a passionate, penetrating analysis of the environmental challenges we face.

As a member of Congress, Al Gore helped lead the fight for stronger air and water quality protections for millions of Americans and for passage of the original Superfund law to clean up toxic waste sites. Later as a U.S. Senator, he led early calls for research and action to address the threat of global warming.

As Vice President, Al Gore has been instrumental in launching new initiatives to meet key environmental challenges. His Livable Communities initiative has helped communities across the country grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth. With his leadership, the Administration has adopted the strongest air quality protections ever, cleaned up three times as many Superfund sites as the two previous Administrations combined, and undertaken initiatives to protect more land in the lower 48 states than during any Administration since the time of Theodore Roosevelt. And he has continued fighting to protect the global environment, playing a critical role in negotiating a strong, cost-effective treaty to combat global warming.

The Vice President also has led the charge in encouraging America’s business leaders to develop innovative new technologies that strengthen our competitiveness while protecting our environment. Through the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, he has worked with auto makers to spur new technologies that promise dramatic increase in automotive fuel economy – reducing our reliance on imported oil while saving consumers money. And he has worked with President Clinton on a series of Executive Orders that establish the Federal government as a model for innovative, cost-effective environmental management.

Vice President Al Gore has an unrivaled record of action and leadership in protecting our environment. We invite you to explore recent environmental announcements made by the Vice President.

Safeguarding Our Oceans and Coasts

Marine Protected Areas and Coral Reef Protection. Following the National Ocean Conference in June of 1998, a new Executive Order was issued on May 26, 2000 directing agencies to establish a network of ocean conservation areas; authorizing the Commerce and Interior departments to develop a plan to permanently protect Hawaii’s rich coral reefs; and directing the Environmental Protection Agency to take new steps to limit the pollution of beaches, oceans and coasts.

Preserving America's Natural Treasures

California Desert Protection. On May 18, 2000, Vice President Gore secured the money needed to complete a historic acquisition of 404,000 acres of pristine desert lands in Southern California. The land will be purchased from the Catellus Development Corporation with $5 million in federal funds secured by the Administration in the fiscal year 2000 budget and a $15 million donation from The Wildlands Conservancy. The land is being preserved for future generations through a true public-private effort that could serve as a model for future cooperation

Roadless Area Protection. On May 9, 2000, the Forest Service unveiled a draft proposal to protect more than 40 million acres of roadless areas in our national forests from road construction.

Great Lakes Conservation. On April 18, 2000, the Vice President announced a new partnership with the state of Ohio to help farmers protect their lands while improving water quality. The Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will protect Lake Erie and 5,000 miles of Ohio streams by reducing soil erosion and runoff pollution in northwest Ohio watersheds.

Creation of New National Monuments. On April 14, 2000, President Clinton signed an executive order creating the Giant Sequoia National Monument on 328,000 acres in Sequoia National Forest in California. Additionally, on January 11, 2000, the President created three new national monuments - the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Agua Fria National Monuments in Arizona, and the California Coastal National Monument, and expanded the Pinnacles National Monument in California.

Conservation on the Farm. On May 19, 2000, Vice President Gore announced that the U. S. Department of Agriculture will enroll approximately 2.5 million acres of environmentally sensitive farmland in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The program encourages farmers and ranchers to voluntarily adopt long-term conservation practices.

Ensuring Safe and Healthy Communities

Pipeline Safety. On April 11, 2000, the Administration proposed comprehensive new legislation to improve the safety of oil and gas pipelines across the country, and to strengthen citizens’ right to know about pipelines in their communities.

Revitalization of Toxic Waste Sites. On May 18, 2000, the EPA awarded over $42 million in grants to more than 143 communities across the country to clean up brownfields -- abandoned, lightly contaminated properties often found in economically distressed areas -- and return them to economically thriving, community hubs.

Providing Safe Drinking Water

Arsenic Reduction. On May 25, 2000, the EPA proposed to reduce the legal limit for arsenic in drinking water by 90 percent to lower cancer risks.

Protecting Groundwater. On April 17, 2000, announced an Administration proposal to improve drinking water quality for 109 million Americans by protecting groundwater supplies from disease-causing viruses and bacteria, such as E. coli. The proposed rule -- the first to extend such protections to underground sources of drinking water -- is expected to prevent over 115,000 illnesses a year.

Elimination of Harmful Microbes. On March 30, 2000, unveiled steps to protect an additional 40 million Americans from potentially dangerous microbes, including Cryptosporidium, in their drinking water. A new standard proposed by EPA will provide the first-ever protection against these contaminants for people in small communities. This proposal is expected to prevent as many as 83,000 cases of waterborne illness each year.


Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming

New Executive Orders to Reduce Government’s Emissions. On April 22, 2000, two new executive orders were unveiled to help meet the challenge of climate change. The first order improves fuel efficiency by requiring the Federal government to reduce fuel use in its vehicle fleets by 20 percent over the next five years. The second order offers federal workers incentives to use public transportation, cutting fuel use and the pollution that contributes to climate change.

Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential Appliances. On April 19, 2000, the Vice President announced proposed new standards to improve the energy efficiency of residential water heaters that would result in consumer savings of more than $23 billion in energy over the next two decades. On May 24, 2000, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced an agreement with the washing machine industry to produce machines by 2007 that use half as much energy as most current models.

Promoting Jobs and the Environment

Next Generation Trucks. On April 21, 2000, the Vice President announced a new research partnership with several of the nation’s largest heavy-duty engine and truck companies to develop super fuel-efficient vehicles that will dramatically improve America's fuel economy while cutting greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.

Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. On March 30, 2000, Vice President Gore announced efforts to work with the Big 3 auto makers through the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles on new commitments to begin putting vehicles with significant improvements in fuel economy into volume production and into dealers’ showrooms in three to four years.

Greening the Government

Executive Order to Reduce Government Toxic Releases. On April 21, 2000, the Vice President announced a new Executive Order, part of a series of "Greening the Government" initiatives, that requires the federal government to achieve graduate reductions in toxic chemical releases, the use of toxic chemicals, hazardous substances, and other pollutants.

Progress on "Greening the Government". On April 21, 2000, Vice President Gore released a new report, "Greening the Government: A Report to the President on Federal Leadership and Progress," that highlights the progress Federal agencies have made in response to six "Greening the Government" executive orders. Those orders have directed Federal executive agencies to take concrete steps to conserve energy and natural resources, prevent pollution, reduce waste generation, eliminate usage of ozone depleting products, purchase recycled, energy-efficient, and environmentally preferable products, and reduce usage of toxic substances.

Protecting the Global Environment

China. On May 19, 2000, the Vice President released a joint statement between the United States and China pledging stronger cooperation on a range of efforts to protect the environment and promote sustainable development, including international efforts to combat global climate change.

India. On March 22, 2000, President Clinton announced an agreement to aid environmental programs in India on clean energy and climate change.

FY 2001 Budget

The Clinton-Gore Administration has proposed a record $42.5 billion in FY 2001 to protect our natural resources, our communities and families, and the global environment. The proposed environment budget represents an 11 percent increase over FY 2000 and a 36 percent increase over FY 1993.

Lands Legacy. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes a record $1.4 billion to protect land and coastal resources and will seek dedicated funding at this level each and every year to ensure continued efforts to preserve America’s natural heritage. This proposed Lands Legacy Initiative funding would provide significant new resources to states and communities to protect wildlife and local green spaces, support federal efforts to save natural and historic treasures, and expand efforts to protect ocean and coastal resources.

Climate Change. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes over $2.4 billion (a more than 40 percent increase over FY 2000 enacted levels) in funding to combat global climate change. This includes increased investments in research and development of clean energy technology, the Climate Change Technology Initiative, and offers tax incentives to consumers who buy energy efficient cars, homes, appliances and other clean energy products.

Great Lakes Restoration. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes a new $50 million Great Lakes Initiative to provide Great Lakes communities with matching grants to help them restore and protect their waterways for drinking, fishing, swimming, boating and urban redevelopment.

Global Forest Protection. The FY 2001 budget proposes a record $150 million – a $70 million increase over FY 2000 – for a new Greening the Globe Initiative to give developing countries tools and resources to strengthen their economies by protecting, not destroying, their irreplaceable forests.

Building Livable Communities. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes $9.3 billion, a 14 percent increase over FY 2000, for the Administration’s Livable Communities Initiative, which helps communities grow in ways that enhance their quality of life and ensure strong, sustainable economic growth.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Reduction. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes $165 million to launch a 10-year strategy to end childhood lead poisoning by eliminating lead hazards, strengthening enforcement, advancing research, and improving health monitoring and intervention.

Promotion of Conservation on the Farm. The Administration’s FY 2001 budget proposes $1.3 billion for conservation programs that help family farmers take steps to protect water quality and the environment and to preserve farmland pressured by sprawl. This conservation package is part of a larger Administration budget proposal to strengthen the farm safety net.

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