Nader's responses - Ballot 2000


Global warming
Scientific research is increasingly documenting that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming. What efforts do you think should be made in the United States to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being generated? Are you in favor of the United States ratifying the Kyoto Protocol -- negotiated in 1997 as an amendment to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

Alternative energy sources
What efforts would your administration make to reduce the United States' dependence on fossil fuels and promote the use of alternative energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines? What is your position concerning the government's proper role in developing lower emission vehicles and alternative fuels for automobiles?

MTBE contamination of drinking water supplies
In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reasoned that replacing lead in gasoline with the fuel oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) would result in cleaner vehicle emissions. However, EPA officials failed to consider that in the process, MTBE would contaminate drinking water supplies, such as lakes, underground aquifers and urban wells, around the United States. What actions will your administration take to handle this mounting threat to our nation's drinking water supplies? Do you think the use of MTBE should be phased out, and, if so, what type of fuel additive should be substituted in its place?

Clean water
Our largest remaining source of surface water pollution is stormwater runoff from farm fields, animal feeding operations and city streets. As president, what type of legislation would you support and promote to address this problem?

The Clinton administration has been giving high priority to the redevelopment of brownfields -- idled or underutilized industrial or commercial facilities stigmatized by real or perceived environmental contamination. The U.S. General Accounting Office recently estimated that approximately 450,000 exist throughout our nation. What efforts does your administration intend to take to clean up and revitalize U.S. brownfields in order to put these blighted sites back into productive use?

EPA - 2001 Budget
How much should EPA receive in funding for fiscal year 2001, including EPA's enforcement budget? Please list a specific amount, specify, if any, funds dedicated to particular functions within EPA, and give your reason(s) for advocating that specific funding level.

Appointment of EPA administrator
What qualifications do you think are important for an EPA Administrator to have in order to lead the agency effectively and protect the nation's environment? Please list the names of any potential appointees to this position that you are considering at this time. What actions do you think the next EPA Administrator should take to improve environmental protection, while offering greater flexibility and cost-savings to U.S. industry?

Public lands
This nation's 630 million acres of public land consists of parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. What is your policy concerning the future management of U.S. public lands? What is your policy concerning the government's role in relation to the nation's remaining unprotected wildlands?


1. Global Warming
Our response to global warming must include the following: Increased use of renewable energy and diminished use of fossil fuels, especially for electric power generation; improved fuel efficiency of all vehicles; improved efficiency of all appliances and industrial equipment; the elimination of all subsidies for fossil fuel and nuclear development and production. This makes economic as well as environmental sense for the citizenry. I believe, as a start, we need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and make the seven percent reduction promised by the United States by the budget years 2008-2012 a real seven percent. There should, however, be no misleading bookkeeping by counting the as-yet unmeasurable forest sequestration or buying phony emissions credits from the former Soviet states or by counting the production of nuclear power plants under the Clean Development Mechanism. The U.S. commitment must be real so other nations, especially the developing nations, follow our lead and example. Most importantly, the Kyoto Protocol must have provisions to make sure the agreement is adequate or commensurate with the peril. A seven-percent reduction is just the beginning and the Protocol must be flexible enough to incorporate future scientific discoveries that may very well tell us that we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions to far greater levels at a more rapid pace. Technologies that greatly improve energy efficiencies for vehicles, homes, buildings and other uses provide large savings for family budgets, and also reduce greenhouse gasses and ozone depletion. For both these reasons, the U.S. must lead the world and establish a solar energy priority second to none.

I would veto any legislation that included riders that make 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, taking into account many years of unconscionable inaction by this industry, 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. Auto company executives have been dragging their feet on fuel efficiency for 50 years, holding back their scientists and engineers. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 70 percent immediately just to keep global warming from getting any worse. Workers at Honda and Toyota are introducing "super efficient" mass production cars this year that get between 60 and 80 miles per gallon. Technological change by competition is superior to collusion, which is what Vice President Gore's Partners hip for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) has proved to be. PNGV has become a giveaway of more than one billion taxpayer dollars to the very profitable Big Three automobile corporations with no results, not even a prototype production model engine since 1993. The agreement has no teeth, provides nothing to speed the mass production of cleaner cars and indeed has achieved nothing in the past seven years. For years, the U.S. auto industry, and the government, have produced "promising prototype" cars, which have gone nowhere. I prefer to rely on long-delayed updated CAFE standards, improved air pollution requirements and competition in the marketplace to stimulate the production of cars with greatly reduced environmental impacts.

2. Alternative Energy Sources
Combining renewable energy sources and remarkably promising conservation technologies can help us reduce pollution, spark domestic economic development and diversify our mix of fuel supplies so we are less dependent upon foreign sources of oil and less likely to have to explore for oil in environmentally sensitive areas, as Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins illustrate in their book, Natural Capitalism.

As a country we should achieve the following goals in the energy sector:
1. Increase energy efficiency and conservation. Increase the efficiency of energy use in homes, buildings and industry by 30 percent by 2010. Increase the CAFE fuel efficiency standards for cars, light trucks and vans. New cars should meet the 45 mpg minimum and light trucks should meet the 35 mpg minimum by 2005. The technology of lead times has advanced greatly over the last twenty years and the auto industry has wasted many years by its opposition lobbying. Jack Doyle's new book, Taken for A Ride, documents the foot-dragging by the auto industry on fuel efficiency. Require that all purchases and leases by the federal government provide advanced standards for renewable energy sources. State and local procurement agencies should do likewise. I have worked with several of my associates over the last several years to move the federal government to embrace more sound environmental purchasing programs. Our reports: The Stimulation Effect: Proceedings of a National Conference on Uses of Government Procurement Leverage to Benefit Consumers and the Environment and Forty Ways to Make Government Purchasing Green, and our newsletter Energy Ideas, have sparked significant action by government purchasing officials to green the government.
2. Increase the use of renewable energy sources. Increase the percentage of the nation's energy from renewable sources to at least 25 percent by the year 2010. Cap emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.
3. Eliminate subsidies for extraction of oil and gas and coal. The Green Scissors Report prepared by a coalition of environmental protection and taxpayer groups proposes the following important cuts: Close the loophole in the "gas guzzler tax" that exempts light-duty trucks (mini-vans and sport utility vehicles) and automobiles heavier than 6,000 pounds. I would impose this tax directly on the manufacturer. Eliminate funding for DOE's hapless Coal Research and Development program, saving $125.4 million a year, and approximately $627 million over five years. We must also reform extraction policies in this new century. A first step would be to repeal the 1872 Mining Act which amounts to a giveaway of billions of dollars worth of taxpayer-owned minerals per year. We should require a fair market return to taxpayers for extraction of publicly-owned minerals. For example, a mere royalty requirement of eight percent could raise roughly $1 billion over five years. We should eliminate mineral patenting, the giveaway of public lands. This would save at least $10 billion in potential new patents waiting to be filed. Finally, we should require companies to post adequate reclamation bonds and establish a national program to clean up abandoned mines.

One powerful way to promote these alternatives is through government procurement. I would reshape the buying habits of the federal government (and encourage state and local governments to do likewise) to promote environmentally beneficial products and alternative technologies.

3. MTBE contamination of drinking water supplies
MTBE should be eliminated from mobile fuel supplies as expeditiously as possible because of the contamination it poses to the nation's groundwater supplies. No other ethers or additives should be substituted. We can eliminate the need for such additives with enhanced fuel-processing techniques. Modern water purification technologies need to be put in place.

We should also avoid solving our groundwater contamination problems with solutions that increase air pollution. We can prevent this from happening with an aromatics cap and a cap on olefins in reformulated gas. This would allow, but not require, alternative fuels such as ethanol. The hydrogen-based fuel of the future should be accelerated.

In cleaning up existing spills and groundwater contamination, we advocate the Polluter Pays principle, so that the expense and onus of cleaning up MTBE is borne by the companies that have polluted water supplies with this unnecessary cancer-causing additive.

4. Clean Water
A recent survey indicated that the American public views confined animal-feeding operations unfavorably. In one poll conducted by Snell, Perry and Associates, 80 percent of the 1,000 registered voters who were questioned favored the creation of uniform, national standards to limit air and water pollution from confined animal feeding operations. This exemplifies the unease with which Americans regard industrial corporate farming that is both creating a race-to-the bottom atmosphere by shoving small farmers to the side, and is also scarring counties across America by causing widespread water contamination. It is estimated that confined animal feeding operations annually dump two trillion pounds of waste into our ecosystem. The EPA reported that chicken, hog and cattle waste has contaminated the groundwater in 17 states and has polluted 35,000 miles of our nation's rivers. Large-scale fish kills and illnesses in humans around the Chesapeake Bay and the coastal waters of North Carolina have been attributed to con taminated runoff from hog and poultry farms.

It is important that government expand legal remedies available to safeguard society so that existing confined animal feeding operation operators know that they will be criminally prosecuted for dumping animal waste in our ecosystem and damaging our nation's health. State causes of action by injured citizens should be expanded under the nuisance doctrine. Factory farms should be required to obtain permits and be monitored to ensure that they follow strict standards for waste management. I support a total ban on all earthen waste lagoons. Confined animal feeding operations must be required to use lined waste disposal facilities and to demonstrate that they have adequate waste disposal plans in order to remove animal waste in a timely manner. Only when confined animal feeding operation polluters are unable to evade responsibility for their destructive actions, will they begin to make healthy improvements in their farming practices.

I would establish a moratorium on the creation of new confined animal feeding operations, but only beyond a certain size. For example, on hog farms, I would establish an upper limit of animals per farm for all new confined animal feeding operations. There are many reasons to do this, including the development of antibiotic resistance in large facilities, the spread of disease and the need to save America's family farms (which do not concentrate waste pollution as do factory farms), in addition to the dangers of water pollution.

5. Brownfields
Brownfield sites with the greatest potential for rejuvenation need to be identified through a coordinated national effort. Parties responsible for polluting these sites must be identified and held liable for the cleaning costs. For orphan sites without identifiable responsible parties, the government should provide financial assistance for cleanup.

Brownfields revitalization of urban areas must not only halt urban sprawl, thereby conserving rural farmlands and protecting wilderness from the onslaught of development, but enhance and protect inner-city communities, especially poor neighborhoods burdened with the pressures of gentrification.

We can and must strengthen our urban economies without displacing non-white and other poor people who historically have lived near brownfields and suffered the disproportionate impacts of blight and contamination.

A just brownfields program would be a staging ground for a larger urban planning program which promotes the equitable distribution of public property, increases public transportation to poorer neighborhoods and protects residential green spaces. For example, any brownfields program should be enhanced with policies that ensure that poorer residents and the homeless, not corporate welfare kings, are given priority access to revitalized properties.

Other policies that would enhance a holistic brownfields program would ensure that a mix of housing is included within each new development; provide training and job opportunities for low-income residents; establish community credit unions; and boost housing subsidies for disadvantaged residents, such as senior citizens unable to generate the income growth necessary to keep up with rising housing costs.

Finally, any brownfields program should involve the affected community through participation in planning and decision-making and involve a choice of clean production technologies so the creation of new brownfields in the future can be avoided.

6. EPA - 2001 Budget
By failing to use its allocated budget wisely, the EPA is not meeting its potential as the government's only environmental regulatory agency. The EPA could more successfully meet its mission by forcing polluters to pay for the impact and cleanup of pollution with higher pollution permit fees and fees on the unnecessary use of toxic chemicals when cleaner production alternatives exist, as well as by more vigorously enforcing pollution laws and regulations. Having said that, the EPA needs three billion more dollars, 1.) to meet additional statutory objectives that were not funded; 2.) to expand safe drinking water programs; 3.) to test more pesticides and other chemicals; and 4.) to hire more inspectors and law enforcement officials.

7. Appointment of EPA Administrator
All of our EPA employees will work to ensure that the new EPA is a trustee of the public interest and not a mediator of different interests.

Our new EPA Administrator would have a keen understand of the failures of existing end-of-pipe regulations that swallow up the majority of the current Agency's resources and budget, and work to reform EPA in order to promote the most effective pollution prevention, materials selection and clean production policies -- policies that would inherently provide cost-savings and flexibility to U.S. industry.

Our administration would work to embed the precautionary principle into existing and new laws in order to halt runaway technologies such as the spread of genetically modified organisms and chemicals which have not been screened for even the most basic toxic effects.

We would also reconceptualize the use of science for public policy to ensure we strive for a more holistic vision of ecological and human health rather than remain blinkered by medium-specific risk assessments. EPA would make the use of science more rigorous and honest, expanding it to include new disciplines and a broader range of affected interests.

Finally, the new EPA would be especially familiar with the concerns of grassroots communities, especially poor communities and communities of color that face a disproportionate pollution burden and related health impacts. Dr. Brent Blackwelder, who heads the Friends of the Earth, would be uniquely qualified to head this revitalized EPA.

8. Public Lands
Only four percent of old growth forests remain standing in the United States. Since seventy-five percent of those old growth forests are within our National Forests, the President has a particularly important responsibility to be a good forest steward. Despite an impressive stream of rhetoric on forest protection, when it comes to forests, President Clinton and Vice-president Gore will be remembered for failing to stop the so-called "salvage rider" in July 1995. This legislation created a period of logging sales unprecedented in our national forests in recent years. In an autocratic move, the rider prohibited public comment and judicial review by classifying its prescriptions as "emergency" timber sales, even though non-diseased trees - so-called "green sales"- were included along with diseased trees. Although the rider expired at the close of 1996, that expiration date only marked the end of approximately four billion board feet in sales, not the actual harvest. The legacy of one of the worst pieces of publi c lands legislation ever will live on for generations, having resulted not only in the removal of trees, but also the destruction of many associated organisms.

I advocate the immediate cessation of commercial logging on U.S. public lands and the protection from road-building for all 60 million acres of large forest tracts remaining in the National Forest system. National Forests produce less than five percent of total volume of timber consumed in the United States. Far more wood products are dumped in landfills each year without being recycled. It is especially important that the Tongass National Forest be protected immediately as it is the largest pristine forest remaining in the United States as well as one of the last large temperate rain forests in the world. I would veto all bills that might include provisions to dismantle any aspect of this National Forest protection policy. Furthermore, it is crucial to pursue public and legislative support for such a plan to endure.

Click here to view Bush's unedited responses.

Click here to view Gore's unedited responses.

Click here to view Ballot 2000 introduction.

This article appeared in Environmental Protection, Volume 11, Number 9, October 2000, Page 26.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2000 issue of Environmental Protection.