President Clinton Wednesday promised an accelerated, $1.8 billion pollution cleanup of toxic waste sites, abandoned urban industrial lots and water sources if he is re-elected.
“I want an America in the year 2000 where no child should have to live near a toxic waste dump, where no parent should have to worry about a child’s glass of water and no neighborhood should be put in harm’s way by pollution from a nearby factory,” Clinton said shortly before ending a four-day rail tour of the Midwest and flying to Chicago for the Democratic convention.
Speaking in a park bordering the unpolluted Kalamazoo River, Clinton also called for legislation toughening penalties for “environmental crimes” causing serious injury or endangering law enforcement officers through toxic dumping. The new bill for the first time would criminalize an attempt to commit such crimes, and would allow prosecutors to make polluters pay to “clean up their mess,” Clinton said.
Wednesday’s four-year spending plan for the environment was carefully coordinated with Vice President Al Gore’s speech to the convention Wednesday night.
The environmental initiative was the last in a threeday series of whistle-stop news announcements meant to build excitement among convention delegates. In Monday’s trackside news, Clinton advocated several gun-control measures at Ohio’s state police academy in Columbus. In Wyandotte, Mich., Tuesday the subject was improving the reading skills of America’s third-graders.
In his costliest recommendation, Clinton said the Environmental Protection Agency should get an extra $1.3 billion so that 500 more of the 1,387 toxic waste sites on the 16-year-old Superfund national priority list can be cleaned up by the year 2000. Counting the 149 sites cleaned by Republican administrations and the 197 scoured under Clinton, about two-thirds of the Superfund industrial cesspools would be eliminated by 2000 under Clinton’s plan.