The Next Hundred Years:
Forging a Strong Environmental Policy to Take Our Natural Resources Back

San Francisco, California, July 31, 2003

One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. And he asked the people of Arizona to make sure that it stayed unspoiled. "Leave it as it is," President Roosevelt said. "Keep it for your children and your children's children and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see."

It may seem odd to you that a Democratic presidential candidate would quote so approvingly something said by a Republican president. But there's a reason. When President Roosevelt made that speech, he was exhibiting something that we haven't seen in this country for a long, long time. And that is a Republican president providing leadership on the environment.

Because of President Roosevelt's leadership, when we visit the Grand Canyon, our children can see pretty much the same view he did. But what legacy is the Bush-Cheney-Norton Administration leaving for the next hundred years?

Alaska's Tongass National Forest is the largest rain forest in our nation. When our children's children visit in 100 years, what will they see?Last month, the Bush Administration said it wants to open the Tongass to more logging. If they have their way, roads will slice through what's left of the pristine forest. Loggers and their heavy machinery will cut down its old-growth trees. Natural habitats will be destroyed. That's not leadership. We can do better.

In Utah, the Administration rolled when a long-dormant lawsuit was resurrected. The "settlement" the Administration agreed to limits government's ability to protect the country's remaining wilderness. That's not leadership. We can do better.

In Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the Administration overturned a rule proposed after years of discussion with scientists and the public - a rule phasing out snowmobiles in those two parks. (There are other parks where snowmobiling is not a problem.) The Bush Administration made a deal with the snowmobile industry and blocked the rule. That's not leadership. We can do better.

Throughout the Administration, former industry representatives are now - quote - "regulating" their old bosses and friends. Before joining the Administration, J. Stephen Griles raked in the dough as a lobbyist for the oil and mining industries. Today, he is Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department, the number-two official responsible for regulating mining and other economic uses of public land. And although Griles said he would recuse himself when matters affecting his former clients came up, he remained involved despite this promise, meeting repeatedly with clients of his old lobbying firm and promoting their interests. This is a classic case of conflict of interest and breach of trust - and the Deputy Secretary should resign. I want to know why President Bush has failed to hold Secretary Norton accountable for the improper actions of her deputy. That's not leadership. We absolutely can do better.

And when an agency does manage to do its job, the Administration simply refuses to accept the work. Last month, under White House pressure, the Environmental Protection Agency deleted from its Draft Report on the Environment a section on the scientific consensus about global warming. That's outrageous. But of course we know it's not the first time something like this has happened. Whether it's uranium from Niger or global warming, the Bush-Cheney Administration is not one to let mere facts stand in the way of its agenda.

One hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt saw conservation as not only central to the national social, economic and political health, but as a reflection of basic American values. In the century since he lived in the White House, America has forged a bipartisan consensus on the importance of conservation and the responsibility each of us has to pass along a safe, healthy environment to future generations.

Today, we have a Republican president who seeks to destroy this consensus and reverse decades of responsible environmental policy. We have a president who seems to regard public resources as gifts to be handed out to special interests. Allowing Big Industry to release more pollutants into the air we breathe, President Bush calls it the "Clear Skies" program. Allowing Big Timber to denude our forests, the Bush-Cheney Administration calls it the "Healthy Forests" initiative.

This Orwellian doublespeak might be amusing if it weren't so dangerous. But it is dangerous - because environmental policy today is about far more than saving a natural habitat.

Environmental issues are national security issues. While the Administration does nothing to curb oil consumption, where does our oil money end up?It flows through governments in the Middle East to terrorist organizations who teach their children to hate the United States. Indeed, those 28 pages redacted from the September 11th report - those 28 blank pages - speak volumes about where our oil money goes.

Environmental issues are health issues. As a doctor, I know that failure to act on the environment has devastating health consequences. As President, I will urge Congress to strengthen the laws reducing pollutants in our land, water and air. I'll help our legislators to think of these environmental commitments as I do - as part of our broad vision for health care reform.

Environmental issues are economic issues. The right-wing radicals want us to believe that we must choose between having a healthy environment or a healthy economy. I believe that a healthy environment will support a healthy economy.

Ask fishermen if they need a healthy ocean to survive. Ask loggers if they need healthy, vibrant forests. Ask CEOs if they need employees who go to work rather than to their doctors. (How much productivity do we lose from preventable illnesses exacerbated by the pollutants spewing out of smokestacks and drainage pipes?)

It can be difficult to bring business interests and environmentalists together. But from my experience as a governor, I know that we make the greatest gains when we do just that.

I come from a state that, like California, has a deep respect for our environment and a strong tradition of protecting it. I'm proud that under my leadership, we protected over 470,000 acres of land - nearly 8% of Vermont - for future generations.

I ordered that emissions in Vermont be reduced to levels below those required by the Kyoto Protocol. And I played a lead role with the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers to reduce the threat of mercury pollution in the region's waters.

As a Governor I always had a five-, a twenty- and a hundred-year vision for Vermont. My five-year vision dealt with issues where an investment now could produce tangible results during one term in office.

My 20-year vision addressed the needs of the next generation. Investments in kids today that would pay off when they finish school or college, find jobs and contribute to the community.

My 100-year vision was for the environment: I wanted to be sure that we were taking steps in the present to ensure that future generations would live healthy lives in a world with the same resources, land, and natural beauty that we inherited.

Real leadership is about making investments whose payoffs might not become apparent in our lifetimes. Real leadership requires taking action today that will benefit generations yet to come. That's the kind of leadership I tried to provide for the people of Vermont when I was governor. And that's the kind of leadership I will provide for this nation and the world when you send me to Washington, DC.

The Dean Administration's environmental agenda has four elements:

     1) an environmentally sound energy policy,

     2) promoting livable communities and preserving working landscapes and open spaces,

     3) putting the "protection" back in Environmental Protection, and

     4) restoring America's world leadership on environmental issues.

The first element, my energy agenda, includes an ambitious commitment to developing renewable energy sources and fostering energy efficiency. Instead of giving Americans incentives to conserve fuel, the Bush-Cheney Administration seeks unlimited supplies of oil. All we need to do, they say, is drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, building fuel-efficient cars would save more oil by 2012 than the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge could ever produce.

Conservation - principally through efficiency improvements - has to be a centerpiece of our national energy policy. All it takes is ingenuity, and Americans have that in abundance. 

For instance, today, technology helps us keep cooler while consuming less energy. American businesses should be world leaders in building highly efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, light bulbs, industrial motors and other appliances used in homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the Bush-Cheney Administration delayed and then weakened efficiency standards for air-conditioners. We can do better.

Energy efficiency is a centerpiece of my environmental plan because I know it works.

During my tenure as Governor of Vermont, we created the nation's first state-wide energy efficiency utility.  So far, our Efficiency Vermont program has prevented one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions while generating $66.8 million in energy savings for customers. Businesses have seen an average return of 65 percent on their energy-efficiency investments.

Today, Efficiency Vermont meets 2 percent of Vermont's electricity needs. It's on track to meet 10 percent in the next eight years. If we could match that nationally - and we can, with help from the federal government - we'd need 200 fewer new power plants over the next decade. We could help with federal matching funds for state energy-efficiency programs or by creating a national Energy Efficiency Performance Standard to be met at the state level.

As key as power-generation is, it's not the largest component of our oil use - transportation is, burning two-thirds of the oil we consume in this country.

In 1975 - in the midst of the energy crisis - our government decided that automobiles should get better gas mileage.  President Carter set a standard of 27.5 miles per gallon by 1985. And it worked. Without that standard, fuel consumption would be approximately 50% higher than it is today.

Unfortunately, there was a loophole in the law, exempting "light trucks" - a loophole big enough to drive a gas-guzzling SUV through. And now, with millions of SUVs on the road, fuel economy is lower than it's been in decades.

We need to give the world's automakers an incentive to manufacture more energy-efficient SUVs. And to do that, we should close the loophole that exempts SUVs from gas mileage standards.

A Dean Administration will also direct the auto industry to work toward a fuel-efficiency standard of approximately 40 miles per gallon by 2015. Forty miles per gallon is doable - in fact, it has been doable for a long time. And it will create a brand new market for our automakers.

Japanese automakers understand the opportunity that opens up as consumers become more energy-conscious. Instead of opposing California's strict emissions requirements, they built and marketed the hybrid gas-electric cars that are on the road today.

American engineers can lead us even further, to the next generation of hydrogen-powered vehicles. A Colorado-based company has already designed a fuel cell-powered vehicle. It's about the size of a Lexus RX 300, and will achieve the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon.

Another key element of an environmentally sound energy policy is investing in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Solar-power systems are dropping in price and new technologies are emerging. And California led the way in wind power - in the early 1980s, California had more than 80% of the world's wind-power capacity. But without a national policy to support alternative energy generation, the U.S. has fallen behind other nations. Today, Europe generates nearly 75% of the wind-power used in the world.

We can do better - and you're working on it. California has taken the lead with a standard that calls for 20% of your electricity to be renewable by 2017. The rest of the country will need time to catch up to you, so my energy policy calls for 20% renewable electricity by 2020.

And we should increase our use of ethanol, a renewable fuel that can be produced from agricultural and forest waste, grasses, and other feedstocks. Ethanol can also replace MTBE, a fuel additive which has caused water contamination problems.

I originally entered politics in an effort to make my city more livable, participating in an effort to build a bike path along Lake Champlain - sort of like that bike path you've built around part of San Francisco Bay. So I know how important livable communities are. And that's item two on my environmental agenda: preserving working landscapes and open spaces - and preventing promiscuous sprawl.

Our land may be our finest natural resource in this country, but we must recognize that it's a finite resource. As our population grows, the need for housing, for industrial development and for commercial space grows with it. And we must plan intelligently. I'm very proud of what I was able to do to support livable communities while I was governor.

I established a "Development Cabinet," bringing together the heads of our transportation, natural resources, commerce, and agriculture agencies.

I signed the Downtown bill, granting funding to towns that devise specific plans for economic development centered in urban areas. Almost all of the new state government buildings built in Vermont over the last decade were situated in town centers and downtowns.    New federal buildings such as courthouses and post offices can anchor new development and provide leadership for others involved in planning efforts, and the Dean Administration will lead a national effort to support that.

The federal government can be a better partner to state and local governments by sharing information about what works. You know, over half of our states are still using planning statutes written during the Hoover Administration or earlier. With just a small investment, the Federal Government could help states update these important laws.

We also need to address the cleanup and safe redevelopment of polluted land.

We need to improve the Superfund program. Superfund, which exists to pay for critical cleanups, was designed to be funded by special corporate taxes and by fines paid by polluters. But the legislation authorizing Superfund to collect these monies expired in 1995 and a Republican-controlled Congress refused to reinstate it. As a result, the level of funds in our so-called Superfund is now at a 20-year low. Fully half the cleanup money this year and nearly three-quarters next year will have to come out of the Treasury's general fund. As President, I will revive Superfund by re-establishing a simple rule that every shopper understands implicitly:"You break it, you bought it. "In the world of pollution, this is called the "polluter-pays" system - if you create the pollution and its attendant health risks, you pay to clean it up.    It's only common sense.

We also need a reinvigorated effort to address the challenge of brownfields - abandoned industrial properties that lie fallow in our cities and towns because there's no clear way to establish responsibility for cleanup. I'll propose a system to clean more brownfields faster, helping EPA work with states and local governments by giving them increased funding and technical assistance. Through my brownfields program, we will ensure that communities have the opportunity to rebuild wisely - returning our cities and towns to the vibrant places they once were, and turning back the tide on urban blight and the sprawl that's chewing up our landscape.

Responsible development also means protecting the wilderness that surround and support our towns and cities.

Here in California, parks and forests, fire, and water are on everybody's minds. I'm committed to the National Park System and to the National Park Service.  I will support the Park Service in doing its job, and I will defend that professional process against the lobbyists and special interests. And I'll work to protect our National Forests and reestablish the Roadless Rule as it was put in place by President Clinton, so we can keep our wilderness wild.

Parks and forests are not just beautiful, they're also the watersheds from which we get much of our water. We'll fight for cleaner water, addressing the challenge of runoff as we did in Vermont, where the business community came together with conservationists to improve our watersheds. And a Dean Administration will get serious about a national fire policy.  I'll provide a real approach to fighting forest fires, not an environmentally damaging bill mislabeled as the "Healthy Forests Initiative."

The third item on our agenda is putting the "protection" back in the Environmental Protection Agency and other enforcement agencies. 

We will finally make the EPA a cabinet-level agency - with a Secretary, not an Administrator, who will have not just the symbolic support of the Administration, but the actual support as well. And we'll ensure that the agencies created to oversee our precious environmental and natural resources aren't co-opted by the very forces they're supposed to be guarding against.

We'll place tighter controls on air pollution immediately. New legislation will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, mercury and carbon dioxide. We'll strengthen New Source Review requirements to undo the damage done by the Bush Administration. And I'll ask Congress to close the loophole in federal law that allows old, polluting power plants to continue to foul our air.

We'll address the crisis in our oceans and we'll provide adequate funding so that the Fish and Wildlife Service will never again have to say - as it did in May - that it would halt designations of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act because the Service is, and I quote, "out of money."

The Dean Administration will restore funding for enforcement efforts and put the environmental cop back on the beat.

The United States must lead the world in addressing the serious long-term challenges facing the planet. The unilateralism practiced by the Bush Administration must end. The U.S. must re-establish our leadership on the environment and begin to work with other nations on these and other critical challenges in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. 

Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressing a joint meeting of Congress just two weeks ago, talked about the interconnection among various global security threats, including environmental degradation.

"We must show the world we are willing to step up to these challenges around the world and in our own backyards," Blair said. "America must listen as well as lead."

Doing that, we have to work toward a version of the Kyoto Protocol that we can adopt. Sure there are issues with Kyoto - it must be strengthened significantly - but nothing that can't be solved if we engage other nations directly in dialogue. We need to work with the community of nations, including both developed and developing countries, to meet this challenge.  Other global challenges facing us that we must address together with the world community include resource conservation, rain forest management and preserving our ocean's ecosystems.

The U.S. must pursue an environmental agenda as an essential element of international trade agreements.  In the future, all of our trade agreements should have strong and enforceable environmental protections built in. And, where possible, I will work as well to reform anti-environmental provisions in existing treaties.

But the current Administration has an allergic reaction to international agreements. It has even come to light that the Bush Administration worked to undermine efforts to create an international agreement to address mercury pollution in the world's waters. They even opposed establishing voluntary limits!

One hundred years from now, our children's children will read about the challenges that faced early 21st century America. It will be either a tale filled with great deeds and noble acts or one of unspeakable neglect and irresponsibility.

Let us act so that they will not be analyzing in their history books why we took so long to secure our environment - or why we did nothing.

A hundred years from now, I want our children's children to be able to stand in the Presidio and look through the clear air (with perhaps a touch of fog) at this beautiful city and on a bay and ocean that are clean, too. I want them to be able to go to Muir Woods, or all the way to the Redwood Parks and see what an old-growth forest really looks like. And I want them to find wilderness - plenty of it - big enough to be hospitable to real animals and birds. We mustn't consign our descendants to seeing animals only in zoos, parks and arboretums.

We have a real California, a real West, a real America that we treasure - and that, with your help, we will preserve.

I want Americans a hundred years from now to inherit a better natural world than we have today. Better because we have taken the steps to reverse the damage done by the Bush-Cheney-Norton Administration. It will be part of the Great Restoration we seek. And the sooner we can start that, the better!

We can take America back from those who care more about returning a favor to a friend than about creating a sensible environmental or energy policy. And once we do, we can take America forward - and the world with us.

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