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Gore Decries Gop Deregulation Says Bills Are ‘Extreme Assault On Environment’

Vice President Al Gore assailed congressional Republicans’ “Contract With America” Friday as “the most extreme and concerted assault on the environment in history.”

In a speech on global warming, Gore said legislation approved by the House to roll back federal regulations “is a deliberate attack” on decades of environmental laws.

The vice president’s remarks came a day after President Clinton sought to blunt some of the deregulation fervor in Congress by promising to make it easier for businesses to comply with federal rules on drugs, medical devices and the environment.

But Gore’s criticism Friday was the administration’s strongest attack yet on the GOP proposals to curb the federal bureaucracy, although White House officials previously have said the president is prepared to veto various “Contract” proposals if not scaled back by the Senate. The Senate has yet to act on most of the anti-regulation measures.

“We are witnessing the most extreme and concerted assault on the environment in history,” Gore said in a speech at George Washington University. “The so-called ‘Contract With America’ is a bore hole through the heart of the nation’s environmental laws and commitments.”

Gore’s attack was aimed at a string of bills that were approved by the House as part of the Republicans’ first 100-day agenda to lessen the impact of federal regulations on business and property owners.

Several of the proposals take direct aim at some of the country’s major environmental laws, including those that protect endangered species, reduce air pollution and ensure clean drinking water.

Supporters of the “Contract,” led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. argue the public is fed up with regulatory excesses, including the many federal rules, regulations and standards that they say cost the economy as much as $500 billion a year.

Gore, who has a reputation as a strong advocate for environmental protection, also criticized those who scoff at the dangers of global warming.

He said scientists have accepted the fact that global warming gases are building up rapidly in the atmosphere and that there is “widespread acceptance” that this buildup will cause a change in the world’s climate in the next century.