Ralph Nader on Environment

Kyoto treaty is so watered down there’s nothing to fight for

Nader insists that there is no real difference between the two major-party candidates. But in what sense is opposing drilling in ANWR no different from supporting it? Is there no difference between a man who flew to Kyoto to single-handedly rescue an international framework for limiting greenhouse gas emissions - and one who believes environmental goals should be met through negotiations with industry?

“Kyoto!” Nader said derisively. “It was watered down so badly, structured to alienate the third world, then Gore went back home and there was no push to make the case“ for the Senate to ratify the treaty. There was unanimous opposition in the Senate.

But Nader said that should not have stopped Gore. ”It’s what do they stand for versus what do they fight for - I discount the rest as linguistic differences.“ He concluded, ”Anyway, my phrase is that there are few major differences.“

Source: Melinda Henneberger, NY Times Nov 1, 2000

Charge agribusiness for water; stop charging more to people

Q. A number of farmers in this area feel too much water has gone to help the environmental cause.

A. California agribusiness has gotten a free ride with dirt-cheap water for too long. They’re not paying the adequate price for that water. And if they start paying an adequate price, they will use the water more efficiently and the public will get a return. The cities have to pay far more for water than agribusiness. The difference is staggering . because of the lobbying power of big growers.

Source: John Ellis, The Fresno (CA) Bee Oct 22, 2000

Mining companies get free mines for campaign contributions

The 1872 Mining Act is a relic of efforts to settle the West. It allows mining companies to claim federal lands for $5 an acre and then take gold, silver, lead, or other hard-rock minerals with no royalty payments to the federal treasury. Thanks to the 1872 Mining Act, mining companies-including foreign companies-extract billions of dollars worth of minerals a year from federal lands, royalty-free.

Legislative efforts to repeal or reform the mining giveaway regularly fail, blocked by senators from western states. These senators are not standing up for their states’ best economic interests; the giveaway mines create few jobs and massive environmental problems with high economic costs in foregone tourist and recreational revenues and uses. The senators are standing up for the mine companies, which pour millions in campaign contributions into the Congress. From 1987 to 1994, the mining companies gave $17 million to congressional candidates; and extracted $26 billion worth of minerals.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 18-19 Oct 9, 2000

Highway pork leads to sprawl, air pollution, global warming

The federal highway bills are another major source of pork. Last year’s Transportation Equity Act, will allocate billions of dollars to new road construction, much of it unnecessary and harmful. Instead of supporting modern mass transportation, Congress continues to surrender to the demands of road construction interests and the highway lobby. The harmful consequences include sprawl, air pollution, and contributions to global warming.
Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p.110 Oct 9, 2000

Focus on family farms instead of large agribusiness

The government maintains a variety of agricultural subsidies, ranging from irrigation subsidies to crop insurance and price supports for certain commodities. Many of these benefits accrue to corporate agribusiness, and often support environmentally harmful farm practices (such as overuse of water). The original purpose of farm supports was to support family farmers and enhance stability in agricultural markets, and it is doubtful whether the programs still fulfill this function. At the same time, many farm supports were eliminated by the 1996 Farm Bill, with the general effect of promoting agribusiness consolidation and increased power for grain traders. Food prices have not declined. All of this suggests the need for a serious and open-minded reassessment of farm programs, so that the public interest in protecting family farms and sustainable agriculture is advanced, while subsidies for large agribusiness are curtailed.
Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p.112-113 Oct 9, 2000

Drilling Alaska is a temporary fix for an inebriated system

Q: Do you support drilling in Alaska?

A: The way to deal with energy was for Clinton/Gore to establish strong energy efficiency standards, which they did not do, especially for the motor vehicle industry, which is now going down to 24 1/2 mpg, and also for lighting and heating. The energy you don’t waste is the energy you don’t have to drill in a beautiful preserve up there in northern Alaska, which is just a temporary fix anyway for our inebriated energy gouging and pricing system.

Source: Nader-Buchanan debate on ‘Meet the Press’ Oct 1, 2000

U.S. farm policy should focus on family farmers

Nader proposed shifting control of U.S. agriculture away from corporate conglomerates and back toward the family farmer. “By weakening the stranglehold agribusiness has on the food industry, we will be able to increase farm gate prices and competition, which will consequently reduce food costs for consumers.” His farm plan calls for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, prohibition of meatpacker ownership of livestock production facilities and allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Source: AP Story, NY Times Sep 22, 2000

More renewables & more efficency to stave off global warming

Source: Ralph Nader’s letter to the Sierra Club Jul 24, 2000

Raise CAFE standards; treat SUVs like cars

I would veto any legislation that makes it impossible to consider increasing fuel efficiency. I would close the loophole that allows sport utility vehicles to avoid the same CAFE standards as cars. And I support raising the CAFE standard to at least 45 miles per gallon for cars and 35 miles per gallon for light trucks, to be phased in over five years. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 70% immediately just to keep global warming from getting any worse.
Source: Ralph Nader’s letter to the Sierra Club Jul 24, 2000

End all commercial logging in National Forests

I advocate the immediate cessation of commercial logging on US public lands and the protection from road-building of all 60 million acres of large forest tracts remaining in the National Forest system. National Forests produce less than 5% of total volume of timber consumed in the US. I would veto all bills that might include provisions to dismantle any aspect of this National Forest protection policy. I consider it crucial to pursue public and legislative support for such a plan to endure.
Source: Ralph Nader’s letter to the Sierra Club Jul 24, 2000

Head off a genetic engineering rampage

There are massive numbers of issues that are very important that the two parties are blocking, such as significant arms control, control of devastating environmental contamination, heading off a rampaging genetic engineering industry that is far ahead of the science that should be its governing discipline, not to mention poverty, avoidable disease, illiteracy, collapsing infrastructure, corporate welfare, distortions of public budgets, etc.
Source: Alternative Radio interview with David Barsamian Feb 23, 2000

Protect whistleblowers on health, safety, & pollution

Effective legal protections are needed for ethical whistleblowers who alert Americans to abuses or hazards to health and safety in the workplace, or contaminate the environment, or defraud citizens. Such conscientious workers need rights to ensure they will not be fired or demoted for speaking out within the corporations, the government, or in other bureaucracies.
Source: The Concord Principles, An Agenda for a New Democracy, # 7 Feb 21, 2000

Corporate collectivism leads toward ecological disaster

The absence of political vigilance toward the onrush of corporate collectivism is fraught with danger to a democratic society. This is the case, no matter how affluent that society has become in the aggregate, because of the gaping injustices affecting minority groups and majority public services. Indeed, the very productiveness of our economic system has led to vast new problems, centering, for example, on the pell-mell contamination of soil, air, and water that is taking us toward ecological disaster
Source:, “Corporate Power” Feb 21, 2000

Congress should revive energy policies before crisis

Remember when the “energy crisis” was the big political issue? Well, what happened? The US now imports more than 50% of what the country uses. Congress is mired in the dark ages when it comes to rejecting rational, efficient, and environmentally benign energy policies.
Source: In the Public Interest: “The New Energy Crisis” Oct 6, 1999

Bold investment needed for public transportation

Maintaining the public transit system at current levels will cost $9.7 billion a year. Improving the infrastructure to a condition of “good” would require upping expenditures to $14.2 billion a year. [That] is not nearly enough. Bold new investments are needed to create a modern mass transit system conducive to livable cities, one which will bring community residents closer together, combat the momentum toward sprawl, abate air pollution and improve transportation safety.
Source: Article, “Perspectives On Federal Spending” Jul 27, 1999

More funds to maintain National Park system

As a society we have failed to respect the foresight of Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and other conservationist founders of the national park system, neglecting to invest sufficient resources to maintain, let alone properly expand, the parks. A National Park Service-estimated funding gap of nearly $9 billion has left animal populations at risk, park amenities in substandard or unusable conditions and many national historical artifacts in danger of being lost to posterity.
Source: Article, “Perspectives On Federal Spending” Jul 27, 1999

Promote energy independence to avoid foreign wars

We should be energy independent in this country. Solar energy is getting more efficient, more practical, a lot of small businesses going into it, there’s no reason for us to get into foreign involvements because of the abuse of power of global corporations.
Source: Interview on “Larry King Live” Oct 6, 1996

National corporate charters for environmental bankruptcy

Q: [Would you support] a national corporate law that could specify an entirely different corporation built around a principle that would have social welfare, human, and ecological criteria as opposed to the mere return on investment which corporations have today?

A: If we had a national charter, we could say for example that in addition to a corporation going into bankruptcy for not paying its creditors, it can go into environmental bankruptcy for contaminating and poisoning the community in which it’s in through pollution. And if it does go into bankruptcy, that doesn’t mean the company closes down and unemploys the workers, it means that the leadership changes. It means that there’s a trustee in the environmental bankruptcy appointed by a judge, a new board of directors, and a new ethic to not inflict pollution violence on thousands or millions of innocent people -- whether for air or water or food contamination.

Source: Interview by Jerry Brown on “We The People” Radio Mar 20, 1996

Ralph Nader on Auto Safety

Auto safety devices are simple & cheap; but take years

When I started on motor vehicle safety issues back in the 1950s, what impressed me most was the simple nature of safety devices that were not in cars. For example, the padded dash panel that was invented by the makers of the Roman chariots in ancient Rome. The collapsible steering column was patented before WWI. Seat belts were available to pilots in WWI. When I started criticizing the auto companies for not putting these simple, lifesaving features in cars, that was considered a radical move by the auto companies and by quite a few commentators as well.

When studies showed that in frontal collisions, if you hit your head against the rearview mirror and it did not break away, it could be a fatal injury. It took us years to get the auto company executives to let their engineers do what they knew how to do and to put breakaway rearview mirrors in cars that we have today. All of these safety devices cost a pittance even on the first round of installation.

Source: Remarks to the Detroit Economic Club Oct 10, 2000

Safety regulation works; but Auto Safety Agency sold out

The enormous success in the first few years of the Auto Safety Agency’s administration [is] still to our benefit today. The death toll per 100 million vehicle miles in 1966 was 5.6 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles driven. Last year it was 1.6. So regulation does work, and a coordinated national effort to have everybody involved, address the problem, can diminish the problem.

What has happened now is that the Auto Safety Agency has become a consulting firm for the auto industry. The process started under Ronald Reagan and George Bush and continued unabated under the Clinton-Gore administration. With the exception of the airbag standard, there has been very little advance in automotive safety and fuel-efficiency technology in people’s motor vehicles in the last 20 years. The last statutory fuel-efficiency standard was established in 1975, and the goal was by 1985, a motor vehicle average fuel efficiency would be 27.5 miles per gallon

Source: Remarks to the Detroit Economic Club Oct 10, 2000

More regulation for auto safety, with criminal penalties

    We need, in this country, new motor vehicle statutory authorities, with the following amendments enacted by Congress:
  1. To put criminal penalties for knowing and willful violation of motor vehicle standards or knowing or willful refusal to recall known defective cars that are impairing human life.
  2. To increase the [maximum] civil penalties from $925,000 to $15 million.
  3. To require the testing before certifying for compliance with safety standards.
  4. To extend the statute of limitations. Right now if you have a car that is over eight years old, and the company discovers a serious defect, they don’t have to recall the vehicle. After eight years, they are in the clear.
  5. Now, [for] all of these and other knowing and willful criminal behavior, coverups, there is no criminal penalty. But if you are ever in Colorado or Wyoming and Idaho, and you get caught harassing a wild ass, you can go to jail for one year.
Source: Remarks to the Detroit Economic Club Oct 10, 2000

Cancel R&D giveaways to auto industry; let them do it

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) is a public/private partnership between seven federal agencies and the big three automakers. The program represents an effort to coordinate the transfer of property rights for federally funded research and development to the automotive industry.

It is hard to imagine an industry less in need of government support than the highly capitalized auto industry, which is reporting record profits year after year. The government is supporting research that the industry would or should do on its own in response to market demands, or could easily be required to do in order to meet tougher environmental standards.

The PNGV is not the only example of a federal research program that should be eliminated. Research and development programs in areas like nuclear power and fossil fuels (among them the clean coal technology program) invest funds in undesirable non-renewable technologies. Such programs are not defensible.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 63 & 66 Oct 9, 2000

Gore has given auto industry and other polluters a free ride

Q: Why do you speak so harshly about Al Gore?

A: Gore said he was going to take on the auto industry. He gave the auto industry eight years of free ride on fuel efficiency standards, which have actually gone down; they’re at their lowest level since 1980-one reason for this oil price increase. He’s been weak on pesticides; given biotech industry a free ride; supported GATT and NAFTA, which are anti-environmental. He’s had eight years to convince us-we can’t believe him on that.

Source: Nader-Buchanan debate on ‘Meet the Press’ Oct 1, 2000

Motor vehicles are the greatest environmental hazard

Year after year, through its traumatic and polluting impact, the motor vehicle performs as the greatest environmental hazard in this country. The inceptions and consequences of this hazard do not conform neatly to municipal, county, and State boundaries. In terms of unused capacity, fuel consumption per passenger, injuries, pollution, and total time displacement of drivers and passengers, automotive travel is probably the most wasteful and inefficient mode of travel by industrial man.
Source:, “Auto Safety” Feb 21, 2000

DOT: Focus on safety and mass transit

Q: If you were president, how would you run the Department of Transportation differently?

A: I would make its mission safety, No. 1 -- whether it’s aviation, highway safety, motor vehicle safety. It isn’t No. 1 now. It’s basically a department that’s a consulting firm to the motor vehicle industry and all its component parts -- trucking industry, automobile manufacturers, the highway lobby, etc. It’s not enforcing the law. I would enforce the law.

I would dramatically expand investment in modern public transit. Instead of spending billions keeping our boys in Europe and East Asia to defend against nonexistent enemies on behalf of prosperous countries, I’d put that money into job production for public transit and other public works, like schools, clinics, sewage systems and drinking water systems.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Automakers avoid replacing internal combustion engines

Q: On the issue of pollution emissions tests and controls, you’ve commented, The more you try to control pollution at the end point, the more expensive it gets and the more pissed off people get with administrators and having to go and get their car inspected and get a sticker. So why isn’t it controlled at the point of production?

A: Because at the point of production the company has to change the product, whereas at the point of emission it’s more at the [consumer] end. It’s more, “You haven’t kept it up. You haven’t maintained it,“ etc. But also, if you control it at the emission point you don’t have to raise the question of displacing the internal combustion engine with a new propulsion system. You don’t have to answer the question why the auto companies have been promising electric cars for all these years. I saw it at the 1939 World’s Fair at the GM exhibit. And now the head of the Automobile Manufacturer’s Association is quoted in the press as saying it’s still ten years off.

Source: Alternative Radio, interview by David Barsamian Dec 8, 1995

Other candidates on Environment: Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
School Choice
Social Security
Tax Reform
War & Peace