(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) delivered the nationwide weekly Democratic Radio Address on Saturday, April 24, 2004. Below is a transcript of Udall's address:
"Good morning, this is Congressman Mark Udall of Colorado.
"This week Americans celebrated the 34th Earth Day. Earth Day is a time when we work together in our communities to clean up our waterways, parks and open spaces. It's also the time for remembering the vital importance of keeping our air clean, our water safe for drinking and protecting the health of our children.
"We've done a lot under Democratic and Republican administrations to protect the environment in the last three decades, but today we are headed in the wrong direction. Under President Bush, we have basically sold out our environment for the profit of the special interests. Instead of forcing polluters to pay to clean up the mess they have made, the Republicans have made it easier for them to pollute our air and our water.
"The Natural Resources Defense Council has identified more than 300 separate actions by the Bush Administration that undermine the progress we have made in protecting the environment.
"They are trying to weaken enforcement of the Clean Air Act - a step the American Lung Association says is 'the most harmful and unlawful air pollution initiative ever undertaken by the federal government.'
"They are trying to delay reductions on airborne mercury - a toxic substance that poses a serious danger to pregnant women and young children.
"Also, the Administration is proposing to undermine our drinking water by slashing funding for the states' Clean Water programs by 37 percent.
"The story is similar when it comes to cleaning up toxic waste sites. One in four Americans lives within four miles of a major toxic waste site on the "Superfund" list. Cleanup, while expensive, is essential to public health and it's only fair to share the cost of cleanup. That's why the Superfund law was based on the principle of "the polluter pays." But now the BushAdministration has abandoned that "polluter pays" approach.
"In 1995, 82 percent of Superfund funding came from money paid by polluters. But all that money has been spent, and the Administration wants to leave it that way. They oppose renewing the fees - shifting the burden onto the backs of individual taxpayers.
"As if that weren't enough, the Bush Administration is ready to sacrifice some of our most special places, risking irreplaceable resources for some short-run payoffs. For example, the President is still pushing to open up the pristine coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling. The U.S. Geological Survey says that at best there is a chance of finding only several months' supply of oil. But there is one 100 percent sure bet - drilling would change everything in this area, and it will never be wilderness again.
"And in the West, the Bush Administration talks a good game about reducing wildfire risks on our national forests, but it doesn't give the Forest Service and other land agencies the resources they need to do the job.
"We need a new direction on the environment. Democrats will chart a course that protects our environment by balancing strong protections with smart strategies for job creation and economic growth. This includes fighting to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, to reduce harmful emissions from coal-fired plants, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other beautiful wilderness areas.
"And Democrats are fighting for a balanced energy policy to make our nation more energy independent. This policy includes strong investments in energy efficiency and more use of renewable resources.
"Our environment is too precious to sell to the highest bidder. We need to get our focus back on protecting our air and water, our public lands, our wildlife, and our forests. We owe it to our country and to our children.
"I'm Congressman Mark Udall of Colorado. Thank you for listening."