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The Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on the Environment - Part 1

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Welcome to the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on the Environment sponsored by the California League of Conservation Voters and the League of Conservation Voters.  I'm Warren Olney.  I'm the host of "To the Point" on Public Radio International. 

We are in Ackerman Auditorium on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles, and our democratic presidential candidates are US Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts; former US Senator Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois, also former Ambassador to New Zealand; the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean; and US Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

Welcome to all of you.  Thank you for coming to Los Angeles and participating in this panel on the environment.

Also with us is a panel of reporters who specialize in politics and the environment.  A bit later they will be questioning the candidates on the specifics of their environment platforms. 

I will also have some questions submitted by our audience from the Internet, and at the end of the program each candidate will have the opportunity to make a closing statement. 

First, I've been asked to host a brief—well, now we're joined by the Reverend Al Sharpton from the state of New York. 
Glad to see you, Reverend Sharpton.  We weren't told you were missing.  So we're glad you joined us.  Thank you for joining us.  

REVEREND SHARPTON: Getting through the smog. 

WARREN OLNEY: Once again the panel of reporters will be asking questions a bit later and first we're going to have a brief
round table between myself and the candidates so that you can all give us a sense of where you're coming from.

You don't have to wait for me to call on you, but once again, you've graciously agreed to hold your answers to one minute.  And if you would do that during that period of time, your answers or your comments we'll be able to cover a lot more subjects than otherwise.  Let's try to maintain that.

Again, the League of Women Voters is out in front with signs to help us all stay in line. 

We all know that your objective is to run against President Bush.  We all know that you're opposed to most of his policies, if not all of his policies on the environment.  But the first primary in your own democratic party hasn't been held yet, so this is an opportunity for you to set forth your priorities for the environment, and also make it clear from how you differ from one another on a host of different issues that we refer to when we say "the environment."

The President took some heat this week because the EPA's new report on the environment was said to have played down the issue of global warming. 

Senator Lieberman, how important to you do you think is global warming, and what specifically would you do about it?  

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Warren.  Global warming is the most critical, long-term environmental challenge that America and the world faces.  This administration has been profoundly irresponsible in dealing with it.  In fact, it pulled us out of the Kyoto protocol to deal with global warming and in doing so separated us from the rest of the world in a way that's had profound and adverse consequences for our foreign policy. 

Incidentally, the decision by this administration to block out scientific fact from its EPA report about global warming because it didn't meet its political conclusions was outrageous.  And it is more typical of the old Soviet Union than of the United States of America, but it's not new for this administration. 

I have been fighting to do something about global warming since I came to the Senate in1989.  I went to Kyoto and Buenos Aires.  John McCain and I today have the most comprehensive, constructive, aggressive program to deal with global warming that anyone has yet produced. 

We're going to put it on as an amendment to the energy bill in the Senate, after July 4th when the bill comes up.  It sets standards, caps. It would bring us back or up to 2000 emissions levels by 2010, and 1990 emissions level by 2016. That would not only protect us and the generations to follow us, but it would restore us to our moral role as leader of the world in dealing with a problem that we are the major cause of.  

WARREN OLNEY: Governor Dean, is there any, in your mind, any scientific disagreement about global warming that's significant, or do you think it really is established fact?

GOVERNOR DEAN: It's established fact, unless you're in the Bush administration.  It's clearly scientific. I agree with Joe. One of the things that drives me absolutely crazy in all areas, not just the environmental area, is this President is willing to discard science because he doesn't care about science. 

This is an administration that has substituted thought—excuse me—ideology for thought.  And you can't run a country, you can't run a state, you can't run company if facts don't matter; and facts don't matter to this administration. 

I will note, however, just on a note of sort of sadness in one way.  This is Christie Whitman's last day on the job as EPA director. And you may applaud, but there is a woman who I served with. 

She wasn't all that bad for a Republican on environment issues.  And she has to be leaving because nobody pays any attention to her.  She hasn't run the EPA since she arrived there.  It's all run by the right wing young folks from inside the White House who don't care about environmental protection.  She tried to do her job.  She left because the White House told us what to do, and I think it's a disgrace.

WARREN OLNEY: If global warming is a moral issue, Senator Lieberman, then do you have a responsibility to call on the American people to sacrifice, in order to try to deal with it?  We're going to have to give something up?  

SENATOR LIEBERMAN :Do you want me to answer that? 


SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Absolutely.  You sacrifice for a purpose.  And the purpose is to protect the generations that will follow us here in America and on overall on earth from the dire and potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change and global warming.  

WARREN OLNEY: What sacrifices do we need to make?  


WARREN OLNEY: What sacrifices do we need to make?

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, number one - and this is part of my own energy declaration of independence—we've got to break our addiction to foreign oil.  We've got to break our addiction to oil.  Don't expect leadership on that front from an administration that is from oil, by oil and for oil. 

As President I'm going to do—I'm going to do better than that.  We've got to invest in new technologies.  We've got to be willing to take on what's a controversial matter in the democratic party.  We've got to demand by law that American automakers produce cars that are fuel-efficient. 

And I set a standard in my proposal of 40 miles per gallon average fuel efficiency by the year 2015. This is all about leadership.  And leadership that doesn't do just what's popular at the moment by ignoring problems.  

WARREN OLNEY: Let me go to—

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Leadership that sees the problem coming over the horizon and asks the American people to do something about that.  The bill I have with John McCain would do exactly that in 80 percent of the emissions of our country.

WARREN OLNEY: Let me go to former Senator Moseley-Braun and ask you the same question: Do you think that the American people are going to have to give things up in order to cope with the environment?  Is that something you think is going to be part of the Democratic campaign next year?

SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: At the outset I wan to thank the League of Conservation Voters and everybody here for coming and for having this dialogue and discussion.

I think these issues—when Joe Lieberman uses the term "morality" and outrage in connection with what's happening with environment protection, he's exactly right.  These people have missed the point altogether. 

This administration has lied to the American people, and we have failed in our responsibility in a variety of ways.  Emissions policy just being one of them.  Pulling out of Kyoto being just one of them.

But let me say that while there will have to be sacrifices, I think in some ways that sets up almost a false set of
choices.  The fact of the matter is we can reduce our dependence on carbon-based fuels.  We can have
technology investment, in the first instance, and technology transfer that will get us away from this addiction to the energy policies that are killing our planet. 

We can make choices, sensible choices that will give us, in some ways a more conservative lifestyle, but certainly not one that will pit one group of Americans against another.  Pit economic development against protection of the environment. 

That set of false choices has been, I think, the smoke screen for an awful lot of confusion around these issues and has helped to peel off constituencies and people who might otherwise not only understand, but support conservation, based on the notion that they'll lose their jobs. 

I think that that's a false set of choices.  I think we should make the point to the American people, as Democrats, that we can rebuild this economy.  We can jump start this economy.  We can create jobs and we can protect our environment at the same time.  

WARREN OLNEY: Senator Kerry, we've heard this is a moral issue; that it's terribly important. We've heard that sacrifices will need to be made, if we're are going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut back on pollution, but what specific sacrifices are going to have to be called for?

SENATOR KERRY: Let me speak to that in a moment, but first I want to say, first of all, thank you for the privilege of being here, and thank you for what the League of Conservation Voters does. 

There are many of my colleagues and myself who've run with great support from the grass roots of this organization, and we appreciate it.

Secondly, let me say that with respect to the EPA, that is one of the most disgraceful steps by this administration that keeps faith with their continued effort to say one thing and do another. 

And I sent a letter to the Inspector General of the EPA asking that they conduct an appropriate investigation of how it is that the White House doctored what is an official government document by departing secretary.  I think that's inappropriate, and we should do that.

Secondly, with respect to the question of sacrifice, I think it's critical for us, I certainly believe, I want to be a President who asks the Americans to do the right thing. 

I believe the sacrifices that are needed are the sacrificing of bad habits and the sacrificing of selfishness.  But we do not have to ask Americans to sacrifice quality of life.  And that's a critical distinction to make as we think about what we are saying to Americans.

We have the technology.  We have the capacity.  We have the will.  We have the commitment. We have the entrepreneurial skill to be able to develop the means of driving better cars, without reducing their capacity to carry the soccer mom to the field, without reducing the capacity of people on farms to be able to do what they do.

So we need to talk directly to the American people.  I want the cars of the future made in Detroit.  I want them made by Americans. 

And I believe that this administration is culpable of walking away from America and from jobs, by not exciting the possibilities of the feature vehicles.

I drove over here today with Pierre Borton in an electric car that they've ceased to make at GM . Honda and Toyota are making the hybrids. 

We need leadership that is going to say that by the year 2020, 20 percent of America's electricity is going to be produced from alternatives and renewables.  We're going to raise the emissions standards of our cars, just like you all had the courage to do out here in California. And we are going to set this country on the path to energy independence. We're going to create the jobs of the future in doing so, and we don't have to sacrifice one iota of quality of life to do that.  

WARREN OLNEY: Reverend Sharpton, if it does come down at some point to a choice between jobs and the environment, which is more important?  

REVEREND SHARPTON: Well, first of all, let me join my colleagues in thanking the League for having this forum.  And as I said, I was a little late working my way through the smog to get here, which is why I want to be President, so we can have standards against that.

But let me say, first, I must disagree that I don't join in the mourning of Christie Whitman's leaving, only because she may be coming back to New Jersey, where she was not very good as governor for us. 

So I think that it is appropriate that Christie Whitman put her name to a document that is just as flawed as the documents of weapons of mass destruction from the other side of this very same administration.

I think what we must do is we must not allow this administration to continue to use the bogeyman in every
argument.  They've used it to justify Iraq.  They're using it to try and do what they are doing in the environment and to try to stop us from moving from an oil dependent economy. 

The fact of the matter is to ask someone are they going to sacrifice their job for their health is like asking a drug addict: Are you going to sacrifice dope for your health? 

The fact of the matter is we should not try and act as though.  We have a choice in terms of moving to what is more efficient, more healthy, more life sustaining and is better for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. 

So to try and act like Americans are so cheap that we would rather be paid to do something that is detrimental than to try and achieve the transfer into hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles, Americans understand if they are exposed to the fact that where we are now will harm us. It will bring us to levels that we cannot sustain the humanity of this country and the humanity of the world.  And we ought not make false choices to them, what the bogeyman said, "You have to hold onto your job, therefore, choke yourself to death." 

No.  You need to clear up on oil-based economy, free ourselves.  Build jobs by building hybrid vehicles and by building electric vehicles. And I think that as we raise the standards of the corporate average fuel, we should have a goal of trying to do 45 miles per gallon.  We are now about—what - 27 miles.

I think as we build toward efficiency and health we ought not to tell people the payoff is that they can get paid to kill themselves.  

WARREN OLNEY: Governor Dean, let me ask you this: People are buying SUV's and they're buying SUV's that don't get good mileage.  They are not buying the hybrids or electric vehicles.  How do you get them to change that habit?  

GOVERNOR DEAN:  Let me talk a little about that, in terms of what we did in Vermont.  We're actually one of four states that have adopted the California car.  And I was—in our state we were one of the original pioneers of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles don't work very well in Vermont, because we drive a long way to work, we've got a lot of hills and it's very cold.  But I wanted to be in with California, Massachusetts and New York because I thought it was important to push the car companies. 

The car companies simply don't seem to respond to market forces.  And the way to move technology is to force them to do it through regulation.  And that's what we did with electric vehicles.

We also get 2 percent of our power through something called Efficiency Vermont, the first program of its kind in the country.  We actually take a little piece of everybody's electric bill and hire an energy efficiency utility to go around to businesses, farms, and houses and factories to teach people how to conserve electricity. That's 2 percent of our total load saved.

So the way to deal with renewable - with conserving energy—with reducing green house gases, the way to deal with conserving the environment is in fact to substitute not only fuels with renewables and wind and so forth, but also to conserve, and we are not doing it.

In terms of SUV's, you've got to conserve. The only way to deal with SUV's is to increase their mileages per gallon and to give people - to remove the tax incentives they have now to buy electric vehicles and then to actually give tax incentives to people who by hybrids and EV's. 

EV's didn't work in Vermont, but they will work in LA because people can use in metropolitan areas EV's where you can get out, and go relatively short distances, plug in the car and then get out and move it. My wife could use one. And we need more of that. And it's not going to happen unless we have to push the technology hard enough with tax credits and restrictions on what can be sold by automobile companies in order to get those cars on a market. Once they're in the market in a critical mass, then the price comes down. 

WARREN OLNEY: You used the phrase "forced change through regulation." Do you all agree that that's what has to happen to? We have to force change through regulation. 

SENATOR KERRY: I think you have to go further than that. It's not just a question of the regulatory scheme. For instance, there is an absolutely insane, obscene tax credit for the purpose of Humveys.  We are encouraging people to go out and buy the biggest—Uncle Sam and the average taxpayer is paying for Americans to go out and buy the biggest gas-guzzler there is. 

That tax credit has to be taken away immediately.  And we have to put more—importantly, we need a President with a larger vision, Warren, who's prepared to say to America," Look, whenever we've been pushed, we've transitioned." We transitioned from wood to coal, from coal to oil, from oil to a hybrid of nuclear, hydro, different things. 

We have the capacity now to push the curve if we will harness the entrepreneurial skill and energy of this country. What I'm going to do is take 20 billion dollars that is paid in the royalties that come from gas and oil companies today, that are paid for the use of public lands, and we are going to create a hydrogen institute. We are going to push the curve of discovery in America.  We are going to begin to demand that we live up to the standard of independence Americans the do.

WARREN OLNEY: Let's go back to Senator Lieberman.  You, I think, wanted to comment on this question of forcing through regulation.  Is that what we have to do?

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, it's part of it.  I think the point of this is we need a President who will be a leader, who will call on the American people to get together to unite to deal with a problem that is affecting our health and that is affecting the purity of our environment. 

And to me—I'll give you a contrast here.  And it's an unbelievable contrast.  The Bush administration, as you all know in California, filed a lawsuit here along with others opposed to California's pioneering progressive zero emissions vehicle law. 
Now, that's not leadership by this President.  That's yielding to special interests who don't want to change. My presidency would set standards for America. 

I've proposed a goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil by 2 million barrels a day and let's let the automobile companies figure out how to do it, so long as they reach that goal. It would mean, in my opinion, cars of 40 miles per gallon.

The law has to lead here. Instead of opposing zero emissions vehicles, I would join my colleagues, as I have proposed, and offer tax credits to consumers who buy fuel efficient and clean vehicles. 

That's what leadership is about, and that's what I propose to do as President. 

WARREN OLNEY: Senator Moseley-Braun, what would you like to offer here that we haven't heard yet, in terms of a specific priority for the environment that if elected President you would want to accomplish? 

SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: To use a nursery school term, I would encourage working well with others. 

The fact is that we have pulled out of Kyoto other nations are going forward. In fact, there are reports that just today the European union is trying to implement some of the steps that Kyoto recommended. 

The global warming, the sustainable development blueprint that was built up that was written up in Johannesburg, the Johannesburg conference that we pulled out of, would be another nice place to start to begin to work with others around the world to build a climate of support for sustainable development for reducing carbon emissions, for preventing the harm before it happens. 

This administration has moved into carbon sequestration and the like. But that's very much like closing the barn door after the horse is out. You have to stop the harm first. And to do that you have to work with others to begin to harness the capacity that my colleague has referred to. 

So that—I mean that's one part.  One place to start. Obviously, internationally to work with others, domestically to use policies, both in terms of tax policy as well as specific initiatives for technology transfer to begin to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases and to set this country on a path of energy independence. 

WARREN OLNEY: Reverend Sharpton, same question to you: What do you have to say that we haven't heard yet in terms of priorities? 

REVEREND SHARPTON: Well, I agree basically. I think in addition to the fact that we must regulate business, first of all, you have to have a President that feels that big business did not send him to Washington; that the people did.  And that they have no fear in making sure that big business operates in the best interests of the public; that they are not considering themselves the representatives of big business in Washington, as the present administration has.

But I think in line with that, you must have an Attorney General that will enforce the law.  We are talking about how—not only do we need further regulations. We have a US Attorney General who will lock environmentalists up for protesting, but will not implement state implementation laws on emissions and other things that are already on the books. 

I was involved in a protest in the island of Vieques around environmental issues.  Ashcroft made sure we were arrested, but they can't seem to find the people that are polluting the water, polluting the air that are doing the emissions. They can hear lawyers talking to clients in the middle of the night, but they can't find that are polluting people in broad daylight.

I'd have an Attorney General that would enforce the law. That's something new that you haven't heard for two years.

WARREN OLNEY: It's just about time to go to the questions from the reporters. 

Let me just ask any of you to chime in at this moment and raise an issue, give us apriority, give us a particular issue that you're concerned about very briefly, 10 seconds.  Let me just go down the line. Senator Lieberman, you first. 

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: The Clean Power Act.  You know, air pollution in America is causing, 30,000 people to die prematurely every day. A lot of this is coming from old power plants. 

The Bush Administration actually wants to make that worse with the proposal it's made, which would cause, 9,000 additional people to die earlier than they otherwise would. 

WARREN OLNEY: You want to crack down on emissions from power plants? 

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Clean Power Act.  Close the loophole, close the old plants unless they can clean up and not hurt people. 

WARREN OLNEY: Governor Dean. 

GOVERNOR DEAN: As Governor my major environmental contribution was conservation.  Top priorities as President, conservation and wilderness, dealing with brown fields and making Superfund work again. And then the biggest emphasis is reducing our reliance on foreign oil, using renewables and a sustainable economy.

WARREN OLNEY: Okay.  Senator Moseley-Braun, same thing, 15, 20 seconds.

SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: When I was in the Senate I did brown field legislation.  I'd certainly want to continue in that regard. I also was active in past legislation, having to do with environmental justice, which is another whole issue.  But I also think that the issue of agriculture policy and public lands is a place where we really have to focus, in terms of protecting the environment. 

WARREN OLNEY: Senator Kerry. 

SENATOR KERRY:I want to change the entire debate and discussion about the environment in this country. 

It is about jobs. It's about health. It's about our legacy as a generation, and it is our national security. And we need to make it clear to the country that the false choice that's been given by this administration is either jobs or the environment, is wrong. 

The environment is jobs. And we are going to prove to Americans we can put them to work, and we're going to do it in a way, Warren, that's just. 80 percent of all the Hispanics in America live in counties that have bad air. 25 percent of the kids in New York have asthma today. 

We need an environmental justice enforcement at the civil rights department of the Justice Department and I intend to guarantee that we restore that. 

WARREN OLNEY: Reverend Sharpton, a new subject.  Go ahead. 

REVEREND SHARPTON: You're asking me the same question?  

WARREN OLNEY: Yeah. 10 or 15 seconds, whatever you'd like to introduce. 

REVEREND SHARPTON: Environmental justice.  I think that we have seen various communities in this country penalized just because of where they were in the income level. We've seen in some of these emission trade agreements that has impacted people wrongly. I would clearly fight hard for environmental justice. I would also fight for the absolute cap on carbon dioxide. I would absolutely re-enter the discussions around the Kyoto Accord.

WARREN OLNEY: All right. I do want to ask one question. Maybe it will come up with the reporters, but a question
would be, seems to me, would you vote for the Kyoto treaty as it currently exists? 

But let's just leave that one hanging for a moment. I think it's interesting but it's not my turn anymore. It's time for the reporters to get their opportunity. And I want to introduce them first. 

They are Pilar Marrero, who is politics editor for the Spanish language newspaper La Opinion.  Steve Curwood, who has hosted National Public Radio's "Living on Earth." Paul Rogers, environment reporter for the San Jose Mercury News.  And John North, who is a reporter for KABC Television in Los Angeles.

Now, each reporter will ask a question of one candidate, with an opportunity for one follow-up.  As you know, and I'll try to enforce it this time around, I've been having a little trouble seeing the signs, it has been agreed that the answer to each question won't go for more than one minute. You'll then have 30 seconds for a follow-up question. Each reporter can ask the follow-up question. You'll then have 30 seconds for that, if you need that much time. 

If then I determine that a candidate who hasn't been asked a question is deserving of a response, I'll make that determination, and that candidate will have 30 seconds as well. 

So we'll just go round robin until we run out of time. And the first question comes from Pilar Marrero and it goes to Senator Kerry.  

PILAR MARRERO: Senator, there are many studies, as you were mentioning, that show the low income neighborhoods are more likely to have major sources of pollution than other areas.  For example, Latinos are more likely to live near toxic-emitting plants, and children from low-income families tend to live in areas where there is more traffic and exposure to automobile emissions.

What do you plan to do to address some of these inequities? Some specific measures. 

SENATOR KERRY: I've been deeply involved in this issue for a long time. I was involved in the first Earth Day. I was chairman of the New England Earth Day 1990.  And on this Earth Day this year I chose to go to Roxbury, Massachusetts, not the place where most people think of the environmental movement. 

And I went there to announce that I will appoint an Assistant Attorney General for environmental Justice and reinvigorate the department in order to deal with what is epidemic across our country, of unfairness. We have, everybody knows, this institutionalized separate and unequal school system in America. And we have a racial profiling that takes place in everyday life in America, where loans cost more, cars cost more, homes cost more because of a kind of profiling in our economy against people of color. And their lives are degraded on a daily basis whether it's lead poisoning, or whether it is diesel trucks that drive through the community, because those are the routes they are given—

WARREN OLNEY: That's your time. 

SENATOR KERRY:-- or toxic waste sites.  And the bottom line is that minorities live next to toxic waste sites and dumps more than any other people in the country, and we have to give their voices power. I intend to do that as President of the United States.

PILAR MARRERO: Can you give us an idea of specific—a couple of specific measures?

SENATOR KERRY: Yes, I have created—I've put forward a proposal to build what we know worked with the empowerment zones, but I'm going to create environmental zones, empowerment zones. And we are going to specifically target money in order to clean up the sites to follow through, needless to say, the Superfund sites. 

The funding of Superfund is a disgrace by this President. He has changed the polluter pays principles.  I am going to restore those principles, and we are going to continue to be able to fund Superfund. There are 99 sites in California alone. And if you look at where most of those sites are, you will find poor people on whom they've been shunted. 

I think it is essential for us to have a President who cares about that. There's no way you can be President for all Americans if you don't.  

WARREN OLNEY: Senator Moseley-Braun, we're going to go according to prearranged order.  So the next question will come from Steve Curwood, and it goes to Governor Dean.

STEVE CURWOOD: Governor Dean—I guess your title is also Dr. Dean. You're a physician.  And the point that Senator Kerry made about lead is something I'd like to follow up with you. 

Research indicates—recent research indicates that even small amounts of childhood lead exposure are related to increased rates of delinquency and crime, along with learning disabilities.

This is a major problem in this country, because there are perhaps 100 million homes that still have lead paint in them. And
many of the homes that have seriously deteriorating lead paint where these children are poisoned are in homes of people of color, people of poverty. 

Lead is said to be perhaps the single most preventable disease in America today, and yet nothing has effectively been done about it. What's your prescription? 

GOVERNOR DEAN: Let me tell you what we did in your state. Not only is lead preventable, but it also is a significant contributor to learning disabilities when kids get to school. Here's what did. We have a very old housing stock. We simply put a lot of money into—first of all, we banned lead paint, which has been done nationally. We put a lot—we lowered the standards of lead that were supposed to be in kids' blood. We tested them we test virtually very kid. We have a law now where we can do it. 

And then we put a bunch of money in to go through old housing stocks where poor people lived—and it's very expensive—take the paint off the wall and put new paint in.  It's expensive.  Landlords have to pay for some of it, but it has to be done.

The only way to get lead out of kids is, first of all, to make sure that the paint comes off, and that they're living in lead free homes. And you have to do that with a combination of money and regulation.

And second of all, to deal with the environmental racism issue.

And if I may just for a second—

WARREN OLNEY: Your minute is just about up. 

GOVERNOR DEAN: In that case I won't.

WARREN OLNEY: Steve, you want to ask a follow-up?

STEVE CURWOOD: Well, then let me follow-up. That's wonderful that you've done that in Vermont, but the vast bulk of these kids being poisoned aren't in Vermont, Governor. So—

GOVERNOR DEAN: There's not a vast bulk of much in Vermont. It's a small state.

STEVE CURWOOD: There's plenty of milk in Vermont.  There's wonderful milk in Vermont, beautiful hills, not a lot of lead. 

You're President of the United States, your dream, your wish right now.  Okay.  You're President of the United States, and you're looking at this problem as a health problem, because I tell you, one of the things that happens when this increases the crime rate, everybody suffers in this society. It's not just the kids who have the learning disability. This increased link to crime seems to be very important demographically.  We don't have time to really talk about it. What do you to do implement this? 

GOVERNOR DEAN: Look, my healthcare plan for the country, my universal healthcare plan is based on what we did in Vermont. In Vermont everybody under 18 has health insurance, and everybody under percent of poverty has health insurance.  That will work for the country. So will our lead program. 

If we can get the lead out of kids—poor kids who are in a state of 600,000 people, you can do that in the country using exactly the same formula.

It takes a combination of, 1, federal funding, 2, legislation, dealing with landlords who have lead-based paint in their house; and 3,outreach and testing of kids. If you can do it in the state, you can do in it the country. 

WARREN OLNEY: Next question from Paul Rogers to Reverend Sharpton.  

PAUL ROGERS: Reverend Sharpton, less than 10 percent of the membership of the Sierra Club and several other major national environmental groups is made up of people of color and nearly every national environment leader in the United States is white.

In your view, are these groups doing something wrong or are Latinos and black Americans less interested in environmental issues than white Americans are?

REVEREND SHARPTON:I think one of the things that is a challenge to this campaign is that we must break out of our designated space in America and start dealing with the broad issues that impact all of us, which is one of the reasons I got involved in the environmental movement in Vieques, that had nothing to do with my particular race or community.

And I think the challenge is where we can find some fault from environment groups or find some fault from minority leadership. I think we've got to find the common ground of saying that is why we must mobilize more around these issues because the excuse is what? Because we don't like the structure of some group, therefore, we shouldn't argue about the disproportionate suffering in our communities? 

I don't think that should pale out.  I think that we have a responsibility. And I think that one of the ways that we can break that door down is for some of those clubs to support Al Sharpton for President. 

PAUL ROGERS: Now, is there anything specifically that you would recommend to some of these large national environmental groups as they seek to broaden their bases and frankly haven't had a whole lot of success?

REVEREND SHARPTON: I think that you've got to start going into those communities and on a grassroots level dealing
with those persons from disk jockeys, to ministers, to high profile entertainers that will bring the message in a language that they understand. We've got to cooperate with that. We need to get radio stations and others to have a campaign. 

If people knew of the imbalance, if they knew, as I was talking earlier about our environmental justice plan, how we suffer more from toxic waste dumps than others in our community, they would mobilize and vote more. They would mobilize and get involved in these groups more.

We suffer from a lack of knowledge.  I think we have to combine and actively strategy with those that have the information. And I'd be willing to work with that whether or not I'm elected President because I think we're talking about the future of this globe. 

WARREN OLNEY: John North, question for former Senator, former Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun.

JOHN NORTH: Senator, you seem to want to jump in when we were talking about environment justice. Let me give you a flip side. Conservatives argue that the cost benefit and trade-off with a strict enforcement of the environmental laws ends up minorities, the poor, because it costs jobs, it throws industries out of areas. That is one argument. Could you respond to that? 

SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN: That's one of the big lies, too. The fact of the matter is, as my colleagues have already made very clear, this is not a trade-of with jobs. It's not a trade-of with employment or opportunity. 

Indeed, unless we tackle and get a hold of our environmental challenges and the disuse that this administration has—misuse this administration has caused, we will see a decline in our productive capacity.

We have seen already, for example, decline in exports of US grain because countries around the world don't really want to know about our GMO, our genetically modified food. 

And our President yesterday stood up in a meeting with international leader and said, "Hey, let's go have some genetically modified food for lunch." 

So, you know, changing this administration is a place to start and to meet the conservative argument, because they have done just a horrible job frankly. But I really did—

WARREN OLNEY: That's pretty much your minute.


WARREN OLNEY: John, you had a follow-up.

JOHN NORTH: Well, let's follow up to that, but you want to be the administration. So what would you do to ensure there is equality? 

SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN: Thank you very much.  I will start with what I've already done. And this answers the first question that I wanted to get in on.

I have already passed legislation as a Senator for environmental justice. I would start off with the enforcement of that legislation, and then move to intergovernmental cooperation to enforce environmental justice because there are health issues involved. Asthma and the toxicity effects are health related, but the Justice Department has a role to play in working through so we can uncover the polluters who have not helped, who are continuing to despoil areas.  And we can clean up areas that have already been degraded.

The second thing that I did as Senator had to do with brown fields redevelopment legislation. Again to clean up urban areas where old gas stations, old dry cleaners had left their junk behind for kids to play in.

WARREN OLNEY:  Your 30 seconds is up. 

SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN:I would move further to—it's over?  Okay.  

WARREN OLNEY: Yeah.  We'll come back to you. We're going round and around.  Pilar Marrero, a question for Senator Lieberman.  

PILAR MARRERO: Yes.  Senator, the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, US and Canada has increased trade between the countries and produced jobs. But with increased economic opportunity have come greater environmental degradation and criticism that trucking, traffic and maquilador or US-owned manufacturing plants south of the border are having a negative effect on the environment. 

Advocates say the restrictions in NAFTA are not enough and that the US is exporting more than goods. It's exporting pollution to the area. What is your position? Do you think NAFTA needs to be revisited?

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: I supported NAFTA, supported President Clinton, supported NAFTA because I thought it would be good for the economies of both countries. But, you know, we listen, we look, we experience and we learn.  And I think that one of the Clinton-Gore administration learned, and I supported as we went on, is that we had to put environmental standards into labor agreements to make sure that the environment of the country with which we were negotiating and ourselves, particularly our neighbor to the south, were not being compromised.

I think that's the way to go. I will tell you also. This goes in some ways to your previous question about environmental justice. During 2000, I took a truth tour of Texas to look at the Bush record, and I visited the Colonists along the Mexican-American border with Texas. And the desperate conditions that people are living, in the fact that George W. Bush never visited there, the environmental challenges that they are facing 

I think were an indication of what was to come when George W. Bush became President.

And unfortunately, he's carried out that same disregard for the environment and for people's health—

WARREN OLNEY: Your minute is up.  Pilar, do you have a follow-up?

PILAR MARRERO: Yeah.  More specifically, there are laws already that regulate the movement of wastes and toxics across the border, but even EPA officials have said they don't have the funding to activate the moratorium of this.  And as such there are lots of gaps in the control. How would you deal with stuff like that in the future? 

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Okay.  This is all about priorities, which leadership is about. And I know we're not here to talk about the President's fiscal policies, but they have been as irresponsible as his environment policies. 

He has given away our national treasury in a tax cut that hasn't worked. And what that means is that the rest of government that we depend on for the safety net for the poor, for hopes of improving education and healthcare and environmental protection is being compromised. 

Do you know criminal environmental enforcement is down 40 percent since Bush became President?  I passed a law in Congress that quadrupled the number of criminal investigators. As President I will give the Environmental Protection Agency the money it needs to investigate and enforce—you know how to deal with environmental injustices? Simply by equally enforcing the law. I'm going to make—

WARREN OLNEY: Equally enforce the time here. 


WARREN OLNEY: Steve Curwood, question for Senator Kerry. 

STEVE CURWOOD: Senator Kerry, I think you agree with me that this is an extremely important election that we are looking at. This is an important turning point in history. I mean every election of course in a democracy is important. But this one is really big.  No?  But that's not the question, though. 

SENATOR KERRY: Oh, God, I was hoping. 

STEVE CURWOOD: No.  The question is this—

SENATOR KERRY:I was about to say "nice question."

STEVE CURWOOD: How do you—this is something that if you win this nomination, you're going to go out there, you feel
like you must win. Campaigning on the environment, how do you think you can beat Mr. Bush, given that he's campaigning against the environment, as you gentlemen and Senator Braun have said here a number of times. 

In other words, what do you think this issue is going to do for you with voters? Mr. Bush is calling it the other way. He says that voters want to see these rollbacks. 

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