Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
Sierra Club Endorses Bill Clinton for President

Bill Clinton -- whose vetoes of key budget bills let the air out of Congress' War on the Environment -- has won the Sierra Clubs endorsement for a second term as president.

The Board of Directors' decision came Sept. 20, just two days after Clinton -- with Club activists, including President Adam Werbach, looking on -- announced the creation of the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah Although not unanimous, the 11-2 vote reflected a widespread sentiment among Club leaders that while Clinton's record has not been perfect -- disappointments include his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and his signing of the clearcut logging bill -- he has performed impressively during the past four years. It also reflects a hard political reality: Given the prospect of a Dole-Gingrich reign of environmental terror, we need a friend in the White House.

Since the "logging without laws" debacle in the summer of 1995, Clinton has returned to the type of bold, pro-environment policies he stood for during the early days of his term, when he signed the Colorado wilderness and California Desert Protection acts into law. And he won new respect as 1995 came to a close by standing up to the Republican-controlled 104th Congress, whose budget and appropriations bills were loaded with deadly provisions from its War on the Environment. Clinton's vetoes -- which forced a pair of government shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 -- killed efforts to allow: oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and clearcutting in Tongass National Forest; weaken protection for California's Mojave National Preserve; slash the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement budget; cut funding for international family planning; and block enforcement of wetlands protection standards. The president's steadfastness was pivotal in turning back the GOP leaders' pro-polluter agenda.

In August, Clinton helped avert severe ecological dangers to Yellowstone National Park by forging an agreement to prevent the New World Gold Mine from opening nearby. One month later, Clinton established America's newest national monument, blocking a massive coal mining operation from threatening one portion of Utah's wilderness.

"Bill Clinton has redeemed our faith in his administration," said Werbach. "It's clear that Bob Dole would spell disaster for the nation's environment. But the president has earned our support in his own right."

Dole, the GOP presidential nominee, averaged a 20 percent League of Conservation Voters rating during his quarter-century in the U.S. Senate, and plummeted to zero in 1995. As Senate majority leader in the 104th Congress, he was at the forefront of efforts to block public-health and environmental protections via "regulatory reform" and "takings" legislation.

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