The Election, the Environment, and Natural Resources

October 30, 2000
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With all of the recent news concerning the environment, the upcoming presidential election has focused on the candidates’ abilities to discern what the problems with the environment are and determine what can and should be done to correct or prevent them.

As with the first installment, which appeared in the October 2, 2000 edition of The News, this article will focus on the Republican candidate for president, Governor George W. Bush (Texas) and the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore. This article will touch on an aspect of their campaigns that could affect the hvac contractor tremendously — the environment.

With potential energy problems looming this winter, the environment and the nation’s natural resources are on the minds of many. The following summarizes the candidates’ positions on environmental issues.



Gore’s Environmental Plan

Gore asserts that choosing between the economy and the environment is a false choice because in the long run, we can never have one without the other.

Gore plans to make sure the environment is able to function long after we are gone by curtailing global warming and making sure there are clean and reliable sources of energy. In order to strengthen the nation’s power infrastructure, Gore’s plan would:

Offer tax credits for producing electricity from renewable and alternative sources of energy;

  • Enhance the reliability of the electricity transmission grid through mandatory standards and support for technological upgrades of transmission infrastructure to improve efficiency;
  • Promote expanded exploration for cleaner-burning natural gas;

  • Offer tax incentives to encourage electrical generation assets serving commercial and residential sites;
  • Promote new energy-efficient technologies (Gore believes that smart use of tax credits will ensure that people can afford energy efficient cars, trucks, building equipment, homes, and household appliances);
  • Promote the “Keep America Moving” initiative, proposed by Gore himself, that would expand the transportation choices available to the American people by investing in alternatives such as light rail, high-speed rail, and leaner, safer buses;
  • Ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which includes a legally-binding emission reduction target for the United States of 7% below 1990 levels by the years 2008-2012;
  • Support new technologies that would curtail climate change;
  • Fight for strong environmental standards that would prevent up to 15,000 premature deaths a year and improve the lives of those suffering respiratory illnesses; and
  • Protect the ozone layer (Gore believes that its depletion poses a strategic threat to the ecological fabric because the ozone layer keeps people safe from ultraviolet rays).
  • In addition, Gore would fight to preserve public lands and national treasures, such as the national parks. Wildlife protection, wildlife-area protection, and preventing deforestation are all goals he wants to accomplish during his tenure if elected President.

    Gore pledged to put a stop to all new oil drilling off the coasts of Florida and California. Gore will fight to prevent drilling in federal waters off all states where the public clearly opposes it, even if companies have been granted offshore leases.

    Gore’s plan to clean up and redevelop abandoned, contaminated industrial facilities, known as brownfields, includes:

  • Calling on Congress to pass legislation that would build on the Clinton-Gore Administration’s brownfield program;
  • Increasing the number of sites that would be cleaned up and redeveloped;
  • Providing revolving loan accounts, grants, and appropriate liability relief to assist communities, developers, and businesses to clean up brownfields; and
  • Calling on Congress to permanently extend the brownfields tax incentive, which allows environmental cleanup costs for properties to be written off in the year they are incurred.
  • The right of the people to know about environmental provisions is also something Gore supports fully. According to Gore, under the Toxic Release Inventory, the number of chemicals that have to be reported and the number of businesses that have to report in the U.S. has been expanded. With the access now provided by the Internet, Gore believes information should be easily accessible to anyone who wants to find out whether or not businesses are complying with federal regulations.



    Bush On the Environment

    According to Bush, the current regulatory system has produced immense benefits, but it also encourages Americans to do the bare minimum, fails to reward innovation, and breeds wasteful litigation.

    In addition, he “believes that the prosperity is meaningless without a healthy environment.” But, he says, problems arise when leaders rely solely on the power of Washington and its regulators. Therefore, he says he will “set high environmental standards, and work to build conservation partnerships between the federal government and state governments, local communities, and private landowners in order to meet standards.”

    Bush’s environmental proposals include cleaning up brownfields. In order to do this, he says he will:

  • Direct the Environmental Protection Agency to establish high standards for brownfield cleanups that provide more flexibility than the current standards and fully protect human health and the environment;
  • Remove significant obstacles to brownfield cleanup and redevelopment by giving redevelopers protection from federal liability at brownfields cleaned up under state programs that meet federal standards;
  • Focus the efforts of the federal government on developing hazardous waste cleanup techniques and new cleanup technologies;
  • Reform the ineffective Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund by cutting red tape and providing block grants to the states; and
  • Extend permanently the brownfield cleanup tax incentive that is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2001.
  • In addition, Bush wants to promote conservation by providing the necessary resources for land and wildlife preservation, and encouraging local and private conservation. He says he will:

  • Bring the Land and Water Conservation Fund up to its authorized level of $900 million and provide 50% of the fund for state and local conservation efforts;
  • Establish a $50 million Landowner Incentive Program for states to help private landowners protect rare species while engaging in traditional land management practices;
  • Establish a $10 million Private Stewardship Grant Program to provide federal funding for private conservation initiatives;
  • Establish the President’s Award for Private Stewardship to recognize and honor the best examples of private conservation; and
  • Create a tax incentive to provide 50% capital gains tax relief for private landowners who voluntarily sell their land for conservation purposes.
  • Bush wants to implement a federal environmental compliance that would direct active federal facilities to comply with all environmental protection laws and hold them accountable. Bush says “it is time to end the double standard that has the federal government acting as enforcer of the nation’s environmental laws, while at the same time causing pollution that violates those laws.” Like Gore, Bush believes that deforestation and wildlife are two important issues that need to be addressed. Bush supports continued research into the causes and impact of global warming and the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Bush opposes the Kyoto Protocol because he says it is ineffective, inadequate, and unfair to America. He says it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance.

    Part of Bush’s plan focuses on offshore drilling and his support of the moratorium against new leases for oil and gas drilling off the coasts of California and Florida. He says he will work with these states, their leaders, and effected communities in order to determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not drilling should go forward on existing leases.



    Differences, Similarities

    Much has been made in the last few months of the differences between Bush and Gore on environmental issues. However, it appears the candidates have many similar priorities when discussing the environment. The key differences may well reside in how they want their respective ideas implemented.

    The only thing that is certain is that the environment needs help.

    With the energy problems that have been cropping up over the last year threatening to continue, the American people may need relief as well. It will be an interesting next four years, no matter who wins the election.

    More information on the candidates is available on their official websites,www.bush2000.com and www.algore2000.com



    Sidebar: AZ Contractors Fight Prop. 202

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Proposition 202 in Arizona. Many ACCA members in the state are working together with the construction industry, economic councils, government officials, developers, and labor concerns to defeat the proposition on Nov. 7.

    In the eyes of Karen Krause, chair of the ACCA Government Relations Committee, Proposition 202 will enact strict, 10-year growth boundaries for Arizona communities. According to Krause, industry experts are predicting heavy job losses, curbs on business expansion, reductions in state revenue, and slower economic growth.

    “The grim forecasts may include a certain amount of scare tactics, but the experts agree that Proposition 202 will make sweeping changes to Arizona development and construction,” wrote Krause. “The Sierra Club initiative may have curtailing urban sprawl as its main objective, but the end results may be devastating to the mechanical contracting industry.”

    For more information on the above and events in the West-Pacific region, visit our website at www.achrnews.com.

    Publication date: 10/30/2000

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