Hillary Clinton on Environment
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
CLINTON: I do believe that the green-collar job piece of [the economic stimulus package] is important. Thatís why I have $5 billion to do it. There are programs already. In Oakland CA, Mayor Dellums is working to have a green-collar job program. We could put hundreds and hundreds of young people to work right now, putting solar panels in, insulating homes. That would give them jobs and it would move us more quickly to a green economy. And I think that if you look at this from a jobs and justice, a stimulation and long-term planning effort, we need to lay down the markers now. Weíve got to hold the line against President Bush with his ill-advised approach to stimulating the economy.
A: We donít do anywhere near enough to try to prevent dangerous materials and products from coming into our country. We donít even do enough of it within our own country. We have totally turned our back on the information that is available to try to better track the impact on children and others of these kinds of exposures to toxic materials. So, number one, we need tougher standards across the board, something Iíve been advocating for years. Number two, it should be especially applied to any kind of imports, and that requires going and making sure that we have inspectors on the ground and we have tough standards and we exercise recalls.
A: I have supported a green building fund and green-collar job training with the AFL-CIO that will put a lot of people too work. And itís important that we do this, because we can create millions of new jobs.
A: Well, the first thing I would do is put somebody in charge who actually cared about the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and was willing to really do what it took. I outlined a 10-point plan--I canít say it in 30 seconds--but briefly it is put somebody in charge, make sure that the White House has a system where that person reports to the president, which is what I would expect every single day. And my questions [to the person in charge] would be: What have you done to get the hospitals open? What have you done to get people to move back? What have you done to make sure the levees are strong enough to withstand whatever might come next? Weíve got to recognize rebuilding New Orleans is an American problem, not a New Orleans or Louisiana problem alone.
KUCINICH: Absolutely. The aftermath underscores everything thatís wrong in this country about race.
CLINTON: I have proposed a 10-point Gulf Coast Recovery Agenda, because itís sort of as a chicken and an egg issue. First, weíve got to get the hospitals back up, [then] the law enforcement and the fire departments. This administration has basically neglected with almost criminal indifference the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, in particular New Orleans and the parishes. Even if we were to give people a right, there is nothing to return to. We have got to rebuild New Orleans, and itís not only the protection from the levees, it is all the infrastructure.
EDWARDS: This is an issue I care about personally and deeply.
OBAMA: Halliburton or Bechtel getting the contracts to rebuild is a further compounding of the outrage.
Taking on the air-quality problem was a brilliant move. She successfully carved out a post-September 11 issue that played to her strengths while also meeting the needs of her constituents. Along the way it also created some space between her and the Bush administration and an opportunity to return to the base of her party.
Dear Administrator Whitman:
We would like to convey our strong support for EPAís proposal to remove sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the ďhot spotsĒ in the upper Hudson River. This clean-up plan is a crucial first step towards restoring the Hudsonís tremendous social, ecological, and economic value for the people of NY and NJ.
The Hudson River has been designated as an American Heritage River. Unfortunately, since 1983, 200 miles of the Hudson have also been designated as a Superfund site due to the damage caused by the estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs released by General Electric Company.
PCBs pose a serious threat to public health; they are probable human carcinogens and are known to cause neurological, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. Since 1976, because of PCB contamination, women of childbearing age and children [have been advised] not to eat any fish from any location along the Hudson. Unfortunately, low-income and subsistence fishermen and their families continue to consume fish contaminated with PCBs.
This contamination also adversely impacts longstanding commercial, recreational, and cultural activities on the Hudson River. For example, the commercial striped bass fishery was once a $40 million a year industry. However, due to PCB contamination, the state closed the fishery in 1976, all but ending a way of life along the river.
Environmental dredging in the Hudson will allow future dredging to ensure commercial craft continue to ply the waters of the upper Hudson River, and reduce the adverse affects of PCBs on the aquatic ecosystem. This means EPAís remediation plan is a critical first step in reducing threats to public health, reviving local economies, reopening recreational opportunities and reinvigorating cultural ties along the river.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.
To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dear Administrator Leavitt:
We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPAís current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.
On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.
The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.
The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.
As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Allows a tax credit for 50% of the costs of reducing lead hazards in U.S. homes built before 1960 in which certain low-income children less than six years of age and women of child-bearing age reside. Allows a maximum credit of $3,000 for lead abatement costs and $1,000 for the cost of interim lead control measures.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Finance; never came to a vote.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region, especially in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath, and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future.
EXCERPTS OF AMENDMENT:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Rollcall vote #229; lost 44-54.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: A classic 1980s study demonstrated that poor neighborhoods are burdened with more environmental hazards than rich neighborhoods. The 1980s study established the field of "environmental justice"; this bill addresses environmental justice and health justice.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to require health impact assessments and take other actions to improve health and the environmental quality of communities, and for other purposes.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The Healthy Places Act of 2006 focuses on the built environment, which includes our homes, parks, and transportation systems. Like many other States, Illinois has already begun to take steps to improve the environment. City leaders in Chicago have recognized that many low-income families have no access to fresh foods and medicine because there are no grocery stores and pharmacies in their neighborhoods. Retail Chicago, an initiative of the city's Department of Planning and Development, is now using redevelopment funds to entice local developers to bring grocery stores and pharmacies into these neighborhoods.
The Healthy Places Act of 2006 would expand these and other efforts to improve the planning and design of communities that can promote healthier living. It establishes and supports health impact assessment programs; better addressing environmental health issues; and creating a grant program to address environmental health hazards, particularly those that contribute to health disparities. Finally, the Healthy Places Act provides additional support for research on the relationship between the built environment and the health status of residents.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.
Beach Protection Act of 2008 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (popularly known as the Clean Water Act) to include among eligible grant activities the development and implementation of programs for source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address the identified sources of beach water pollution. Requires grant recipients to identify:
A joint resolution expressing the approval of Congress to an inter-state compact regarding water resources. In the Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact the Congress finds that:
Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.
There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.
These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.
This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.
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