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Public Statements

Strengthening Superfund

Location: Iowa City, IA

Remarks by John Kerry

December 01, 2003

Iowa City, IA -

Thank you Earl for the kind words of support. And thank you for your leadership in the fight to ensure that Americans can raise their families in safe, healthy, livable communities.

And thank you to Nick Maybanks and the Sierra Club for inviting me here to witness the view from the frontlines of that fight. When George Bush's EPA ignored them for too long, it was everyday Americans like the Avenarious family and other Iowa City residents who had the courage to stand up for the health and safety of their community.

I am running for President so that I can stand with these families and with the millions of other Americans who want to do what's right for our environment.

You deserve a President who is ready to lead the way in fighting for a cleaner, greener environment. George Bush hasn't done that. What George Bush has given all these families - and so many others - is a Raw Deal. He's offered big breaks for big polluters and breadcrumbs for the millions of Americans fighting for the health of their communities. He's buckled to lobbyists and the powerful instead of standing up for everyday Americans, and he's chosen polluters over people at every step of the way.

This Administration's motto really should be "no special interest left behind."

For me, fighting to protect our environment isn't just the cause of a campaign. It's been the commitment of a lifetime. My mother was a true environmental activist. She started a local recycling program long before it was cool. And when I was a young boy, she would wake me up in the early hours of the morning, take me into the woods and simply say "listen." At the time, I wasn't so happy about being woken up. Now, I understand she was teaching me about our responsibility to leave this world better than we found it.

Folks here in Iowa City not only understand the true measure of this responsibility - they've acted on it. When you suspected that toxic waste was contaminating the ground beneath the Iowa-Illinois Manor apartments, you didn't just sit on the sidelines and complain, you stood up and took action. It was your courage to speak out that finally forced the EPA to listen up. It was your commitment that has finally set the cleanup process in motion.

Under President Bush, this is the kind of effort it takes to get your voice heard in Washington. We have a President who is deaf to the cries for action coming from communities like this one, but who has no problem hearing the whispers of special interests asking for special favors. They are ushered into the back door of the White House while everyday Americans cool their heels waiting outside. But you deserve a President who listens to the voices of everyday Americans, not just campaign contributors and corporate cronies.

This site may be headed down the right path, but our journey towards a cleaner, healthier environment is far from finished -not just here in Iowa City, but in communities all across America. We are faced with a list of Superfund sites so long that if the EPA cleaned up one each day it would take them nearly four years to finish the job. Yet one in four Americans' homes are within four miles of a hazardous waste site. These aren't simply facts and figures. These are families who are forced to worry about sending their kids outdoors to play or letting them take a drink of water from the tap.

Not surprisingly, the Bush EPA has approached Superfund sites with a strategy of deny, delay, and de-fund. They've rejected over half the sites submitted for cleanup this year, approving an all-time low of fourteen. They've dragged their feet whenever they could get away with it. Just this July they announced they were putting off the cleanup of another ten sites. And, President Bush now believes that when the cleanup bill finally arrives, corporate polluters should put away their checkbooks while people like the Avenarious family should open up their wallets.

I'm running to replace George Bush's Raw Deal with a Real Deal that stands up to corporate polluters and stands with the millions of people fighting for a cleaner, healthier environment. In my first 100 days as President, we will rollback George Bush's assault on our environment. We will restore protections for clean air and clean water - and work to strengthen them. We will introduce a plan to make America energy independent of Mid East oil in ten years-and create 500,000 jobs along the way. And we will strengthen the Superfund program and return it to the business of cleaning up contaminated communities while making sure that corporate polluters pay every penny.

I'm not afraid of the special interests. I've been there when the doors are closed and the smooth lobbyists with their fancy words get down to business. But I've stood my ground and fought for what's right. I took on corporate polluters when acid rain was threatening our children. I led the fight to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and I'm fighting now to stop George Bush from letting special interests with special access rewrite the Clean Air Act. I've been there for the tough fights - and I haven't backed down. I've taken on the special interests and won.

I'm running for President to kick the lobbyists out of the backrooms and onto the sidewalk. And if I'm President I'll have a simple message for the influence peddlers and polluters who call the Bush White House home: Don't let the door hit you on your way out. We're coming in.

We're coming in to join the fight you've already started here in Iowa City, and to stand with communities across the country who are fighting to build a cleaner, healthier America .

I will continue to stand up to the powerful interests that stand in our way every day of this campaign and every day of my presidency, and I ask all Americans to join me in that fight, because I can't do it without you. Go to my website and make your voice heard. Your courage can end George Bush's raw deal. Your courage can give America a real deal. We will not give up. We will win this battle. Because we believe that America is worth fighting for.

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