Democrats' US presidential platform emphasizes environment

The Democratic National Convention's platform for the 2000 US presidential campaign stresses environmental protection and takes the energy industry to task. In direct conflict with the Republican Party platform, the Democratic document would bar oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge east of Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska.


WASHINGTON, DC�The Democratic National Convention's platform for the 2000 US presidential campaign stresses environmental protection and takes the energy industry to task.

In direct conflict with the Republican Party platform, the Democratic document would bar oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge east of Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska.

The platform said, "We have worked for 8 years to produce the cleanest environment in decades: with cleaner air, cleaner water, and a safer food supply; a record number of toxic waste dumps cleaned up; new smog and soot standards so that children with asthma and the elderly would be able to live better lives; and a strong international treaty to begin combating global warming�in a way that is market-based and realistic, and does not lead to economic cooling."

The Clinton administration has worked to protect millions of acres of public lands, said the party, and, "We stopped development in America's last wild places.

"The Republicans have tried to sell off national parks; gut air, water, and endangered species protections; let polluters off the hook; and put the special interests ahead of the people's interest. They are wrong. Our natural environment is too precious and too important to waste."

The platform said Democratic nominee-apparent Albert Gore is committed to "protecting the coasts of California and Florida and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling."

"With regard to public lands," it said, "Democrats believe that communities, environmental interests, and government agencies should work together to protect our public resources, critical habitat areas, and wild lands while ensuring the vitality of local economies.

"Once Americans were led to believe they had to make a choice between the economy and the environment. They now know that this is a false choice. But there is a real choice to make in 2000: whether we will protect our environment in ways that are practical and achievable or go back to the policies that led to generations of environmental devastation and degradation."

Alternate energy
"Democrats believe we must give Americans incentives to invest in driving more fuel-efficient cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles; living in more energy-efficient homes, and using more environmentally sound appliances and equipment," said the party.

It said the US should invest in a diversity of transportation methods to that the nation will not be "held hostage to foreign oil."

Democrats "are committed to improving fuel economy in a way that preserves and creates jobs for American workers, and delivers products that consumers want to buy. To further this kind of progress, we now need the oil industry to join us in producing much cleaner fuels that will allow automotive environmental equipment to achieve the maximum possible reductions in emissions."

The platform said, "Today, technology has advanced to the point that we can drive the kind of cars we like and live in the kind of houses we like�while being kind to the earth. We should use some of our budget surplus to help Americans take advantage of these new opportunities. With the right investments, these new environmentally friendly technologies can create new jobs for American workers.

"America is blessed with abundant, low-cost sources of coal, petroleum, and natural gas, but we must use them wisely and ensure that changes in the energy sector promote a workforce whose skills are expanded, utilized, and rewarded. Democrats believe that, with the right incentives to encourage the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, we can make all our energy sources cleaner, safer, and healthier for our children."

Global warming
The party platform argues that the US also should encourage other nations to "dramatically reduce climate-disrupting and health-threatening pollution," particularly emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming.

It said, "Environmental standards should be raised throughout the world in order to preserve the earth and to prevent a destructive race to the bottom wherein countries compete for production and jobs based on who can do the least to protect the environment."

It said those goals to reduce global warming could be achieved with "no new bureaucracies, no new agencies, no new organizations."

"The earth truly is in the balance�and we are the guardians of that harmony. Eight of the 10 hottest years ever recorded have occurred during the past 10 years.

"Scientists predict a daunting range of likely effects from global warming: much of Florida and Louisiana submerged underwater; more record floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires; diseases and pests spreading to new areas; crop failures and famines; melting glaciers, stronger storms, and rising seas.

"These are not Biblical plagues. They are the predicted result of human actions. They can be prevented only with a new set of human actions," the Democratic platform said.

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