Tags: Gore | Rails | Against | Engines | and | Power | Plants

Gore Rails Against Engines and Power Plants

Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM

"It is tired old thinking to accept a future of tired old engines and power plants that waste too much energy and cause too much pollution," he said.

Instead, Gore said, he will "modernize dirty old power plants" and have taxpayers fund incentives for consumers to buy cleaner-running cars.

But the rallying cry comes amid a brewing controversy over the veracity of Gore's environmental pledges on the campaign trail, with an Ohio hazardous waste incinerator at the fault line.

"I know the other side will keep on attacking me for my strong stands on this issue. ... I have a message for the other side. ... On the environment, I have never given up. I have never backed down, and I never will."

Gore said it is "tired old thinking" to accept old, polluting technologies in automobiles and factories, and "bold new thinking" to invest in new, environmentally sound technologies that will create jobs while improving the environment.

He bashed his Republican opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, on the environment. Gore said Houston is the smoggiest city in the U.S.

"Houston, we have a problem," Gore joked.

Gore pledged to ban all new oil drilling off the coasts of Florida and California, as well as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

But in testimony released Wednesday, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said Gore gave the tacit go-ahead on a giant hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, despite his high-profile pledge on the campaign trail in 1992 to shut it.

The question has dogged Gore for years, and the new testimony directly counters his public statements on the touchy issue, casting doubt on his commitment to the environment.

The votes of the environmental lobby are vitally important to Gore in swing states such as those in the Pacific Northwest. The controversy is likely to fuel doubts about Gore's trustworthiness, an issue Republicans have made much of during this hard-fought election campaign.

EPA's impartial "National Ombudsman" Wednesday released testimony from former EPA Administrator William Reilly given Tuesday. According to that testimony, shortly after the 1992 elections Gore allowed the elder George Bush's administration to grant a controversial permit for the massive Waste Technologies hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool.

Reilly served in the Bush administration until 1993.

According to the testimony, Reilly told Clinton-Gore environmental transition team chief Kathleen McGinty at a Jan. 6, 1993, meeting that he would be inclined to allow the incinerator to open despite Gore's pledge.

McGinty said that "the vice president-elect had had second thoughts about his position" since his campaign announcement, Reilly testified. Instead, "the vice president-elect would be grateful if I simply made that decision before leaving office."

McGinty testified the day before, "I don't recall having any such conversation with him."

McGinty is an environmental adviser for the Gore campaign.

In an interview with United Press International, McGinty said the Clinton-Gore transition team did not weigh in on regulatory issues that were the responsibility of the Bush administration. "Mr. Reilly's quote is not true," McGinty said.

She called Reilly's testimony politically suspect.

"I think his statement on this whole issue is suspect. Six days before the end of a hotly contested presidential campaign he all of a sudden has something to say? The timing alone casts serious doubt on the credibility of what he has to say."

EPA ombudsman Bob Martin compelled the pair to testify as a component of his investigation to see if the facility should be closed.

Gore has always said the Bush administration stripped his "legal ability" to stop the incinerator. For example, in a March 13 interview with the Pittsburgh television station KDKA, Gore said, "The last administration went ahead and did it after the election, but before the inauguration."

The Gore campaign has effectively conceded Ohio and has pulled expensive TV spots from the Ohio market, but the Bush campaign said the allegations still matter.

"I think this does resonate outside of Ohio because it gets at Al Gore's credibility," campaign spokesman Bob Hopkins said.

"Here we have a situation that a promise was made and the truth of the matter is that Al Gore is actually giving this facility the green light to go ahead and operate. Essentially, he is breaking a promise."

Residents in Ohio say the issue certainly matters.

"I think it is huge," Ohio Citizen Action's Jennifer O'Donnell said. The 150,000-member group has fought to shut down the incinerator for years.

"They have been lying all along and blaming the previous administration," O'Donnell said.

The WTI incinerator that sits on the banks of the Ohio river in East Liverpool is one of the largest in the world. It is 1,100 feet from East Elementary School, where 400 pupils attend classes. It processes 60,000 tons of hazardous waste a year and emits lead, mercury, dioxin and other heavy metals.

Ohio Citizen Action said the facility has been fined for repeated violations of environmental rules dating back to 1996. The group said cases of cancer in East Liverpool are higher than the surrounding counties, states and the country as a whole.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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It is tired old thinking to accept a future of tired old engines and power plants that waste too much energy and cause too much pollution, he said. Instead, Gore said, he will modernize dirty old power plants and have taxpayers fund incentives for consumers to buy...
Wednesday, 01 November 2000 12:00 AM
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