V.P. Gore Puts Forth Environmental Plan

Vice President Gore has proposed an environmental agenda for his administration should he win the upcoming presidential election. The cost of new spending in his program is estimated to be $150 billion.

The Gore plan emphasizes “energy independence,” proposing to “free American families from dependence on big oil and foreign oil.”

Americans are more dependent on imported oil than at any other time in history, now importing more than 55 percent of our oil, compared with 35 percent in 1974. This percentage has continued to grow under the Clinton/Gore administration.

The Gore plan states that the U.S. should explore “expanding our domestic exploration of oil and natural gas in environmentally appropriate areas and by the most modern and environmentally responsible means.”

However, this emphasis is in sharp contrast to the Clinton-Gore administration policies that have often blocked new exploration and drilling. During their tenure domestic oil production has fallen by nearly 20 percent.

The vehicle for Gore’s “energy independence” is a new “Environment Trust Fund” — which he proposes to pay for with the budget surplus. The trust fund concept is similar to the discontinued energy policies of the Carter administration, which included cash payments to companies experimenting in such undeveloped and unproven technologies as wind and solar power.

Gore also proposes $45 billion in subsidies for the purchase of energy efficient products. This includes many goods already being successfully marketed and sold by industry, such as fuel-efficient vehicles, propane, and insulation.

Ratification of the UN global warming treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol is also part of Gore’s agenda. However, his plan makes no provisions for the cost of implementing the treaty. CSE estimates Kyoto would cost Americans almost $400 billion a year — roughly $1,300 per family — including a 60 cent per gallon increase in gas prices.

Gore also seeks to overturn a federal court decision that scrapped the administration’s 1997 air quality regulations. According to the court, these proposed rules were unconstitutional, poorly designed, and would not benefit public health. If implemented, the costs of the regulations are estimated to be as much as $150 billion per year.

The use of monument and wilderness designations throughout the West would also continue under a Gore administration, as would a ban on road-building and almost all other human activity on more than 40 million acres of land. A new $30 billion fund for additional federal purchases of private property would also be created. Currently, the federal government owns almost one of every three acres in America.

Another goal of the Gore plan is to save the Everglades. Gore intends to do this with a project called the Re-Study, an $11 billion effort that some analysts say could ruin South Florida’s water supply. However, Gore makes no mention of eliminating the federal sugar subsidy, which experts say is a major cause of damage to the Everglades today.

Finally, Gore proposes a grab bag of initiatives designed to prevent “urban sprawl.” The cost to taxpayers would be almost $30 billion. The basic aim of these programs is to subsidize transportation projects and permit increased federal involvement with local zoning decisions.