The Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on the Environment
Los Angeles, CA, June 26, 2003
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?
WARREN OLNEY: Yeah.
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?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Pardon?
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.
SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN: Well—
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.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Okay. I yield.
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.
SENATOR KERRY: Well, it's not what it does for me. It's what it does for us. It's what it does for our nation. I believe that, and I'm sure my colleagues here share this. This is part of a series of choices this administration is offering that are completely contrary to the needs, interests, concerns and future of our country.
I respectfully suggest everybody here that on every single choice in front of this nation there is a better choice than this administration is offering us with respect to healthcare, with respect to the environment, with respect to children, with respect to education, housing, infrastructure, our relationship in the world. And this issue is part of that vision.
This issue, the environment, number one, it's not just about the environment. It's about our role in the world. It's about our legacy to our children. It's about the jobs that we will create for the future and whether or not they will be high value added jobs based on technology that raise our standard of living.
God only gave us 3 percent of the world's oil. I'm proud that I led the fight to stop the arctic wildlife drilling. And I'm proud that John McCain and I led a fight to raise the emissions standards which we lost.
WARREN OLNEY: That's your minute. Steve, you have a follow-up.
STEVE CURWOOD: Yes, I do have a follow-up. Senator, perhaps the biggest issue, though, in this election and these times is national security. You mentioned national security as something that the environment is related to.
How does the issue of national security and the environment help you win this election?
SENATOR KERRY: Well, I believe that I am particularly well suited to take on President Bush with respect to national security because I look forward to reminding Americans that I know something about aircraft carriers because I've worked with them for real.
And I intend to point out to the President that landing on an aircraft carrier at the hands of a skilled Navy pilot does not make up for rolling back every single environmental choice in this nation.
And in addition to that, I will point out to Americans that, look, we're taking 20 billion dollars a year and dumping it into the pockets of some of the most uncooperative and repressive regimes in the world.
And that money finds its way to those who hate Israel and those who hate the United States. And we need to begin, for the sake of our own future, to liberate any young serviceman from ever being held hostage to our dependency on Middle East oil.
WARREN OLNEY: You're out of time.
SENATOR KERRY: We do that by striking out for independence. That's the national security issue. I'm sorry this President doesn't see it, but everybody here does, and at the end of this campaign, America will see it.
WARREN OLNEY: Paul Rogers, question for Governor Dean.
PAUL ROGERS: Governor Dean, at least half of America's current corn crop and large percentages of other crops are genetically modified. As the only physician on the panel today, do you think genetically modified foods are safe to eat?
GOVERNOR DEAN: Yes. But I believe that we ought to have a national labeling law because people we have the right to know what they eat. We went through this with BST. I signed a labeling law on bovine somatotrophin, which is a hormone that stimulates milk production. I've been through all the studies. There's no indication—Here's the problems with GMO's. It's not whether they're safe to eat or not. It's, one, genetic drift, which is incredibly unfair to organic farmers, and two, it's do people have aright to know what's in their food? And I think they do.
So we signed a labeling law. So in our state you can tell in your milk product has BST init, and avoid it if you choose. And I think that's not only the same choice that we ought to get here; Europeans are entitled to that choice.
PAUL ROGERS: Follow-up on agriculture policy. Similarly, the Governor of California, Gray Davis, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government to block President Bush from forcing California motorists to put ethanol in their gasoline.
Corn farmers in the Midwest oppose that. Many New England leaders, such as Senator Chuck Shum, are opposed to the ethanol mandate.What's your view of the ethanol mandate?
GOVERNOR DEAN: We want an ethanol mandate. If you'd put 10 percent ethanol in everybody's fuel in this country, you would reduce the total world demand for oil by 2 percent.
Now, I understand we don't want subsidies for So so's Midland, but you can make ethanol out of anything that grows. And if you're talking about biological fuels, then you need to include ethanol.
Furthermore, if you use ethanol you also eliminate the need to use MTBE, which is a carcinogenic oxygenate which is getting into our water. So we're getting rid of the subsidies of Archer Daniels Midland. And we'll use sugar cane as well as corn and other things. We need ethanol.
WARREN OLNEY: John North, question for Reverend Sharpton.
JOHN NORTH: Reverend Sharpton, critics says the Bush Administration plans would shrink the scope and the protection
of the Clean Water Act.
Do you support maintaining the Clean Water Act as it currently is to protect all of the nation's waters, not just some of
REVEREND SHARPTON: Well, I think not only—I think the Clean Water Act clearly is not only correct. I would even strengthen it. I think what the President has done is come with an alternative Clear Skies Act, which is nothing but a gift to his friends in big business.
I think that clearly we must mobilize. And again, I think if the American people understood what's at stake with the Clean Water Act, why Mr. Bush's opposition is a very threat to us, and understood in a language that common people, everyday people understand, that they would be rebelling at the polls next year because we are talking about our very lives.
I think one of the things we must rally this nation around is what Mr. Bush and his administration is trying to dilute the Clean Water Act and the impact that it will have.
JOHN NORTH: What is the threat? Specifically what's he trying to do?
REVEREND SHARPTON: Well, I think what he has tried to limit what we can do in terms of what states and clearly limit the regulations that we would put on big business, in terms of where they would have to reach certain levels of clean water or cleaning of water.
I think where he has tried to have the Justice Department slide back in enforcement. What they are really doing is taking the teeth out of enforcing clean water provisions on a state level.
What he has tried to take out, would in effect mean the Clean Water Act would be nothing more than a commentary, rather an enforceable law. And the results will not clean our water. And the results will not be healthy for Americans.
WARREN OLNEY: Pilar Marrero, question for Carol Moseley-Braun.
PILAR MARRERO: Ambassador, school construction is a very critical issue, especially in urban areas like Los Angeles that have the highest need, but also the less availability of land, especially land that is clean enough to build a school.
A recent study found over 600,000 students in the country attending schools built on sites that contain toxic wastes or near them. Most states and school districts lack environmental standards, and the federal government doesn't monitor the situation.
You worked, I think, in this area in the Department of Education. What did you do and what would you do as President?
SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: As President I would first off start helping local—state and local governments fund education and by providing for school construction.
Right now the federal government only contributes 6 percent of the cost of elementary and secondary education. So the cost winds up being pushed to the local level.
We tried and I passed the school—the education infrastructure act as Senator, and it has been defunded. So funding that would be a first place to start.
As far as the architectural issues that you raise, you're exactly right. Making certain that the criteria for selection of where the new schools will be built, and asbestos removal and the like from older schools, make sure that those processes take place is something that the administration and national administration certainly can do again in collaboration and cooperation with local governments.
There are laws on the books. The problem we have here is that there are laws already on the books for many of these things.
But there is neither the will, nor the intention to enforce those laws, to make certain that the children receive the protections—the environment protections that are already on the books. So school construction is another place where that happens.
PILAR MARRERO: How do you do that in the moment of economic crisis where a lot of things are getting defunding like you said?
SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: Well, part of the economic crisis is this backward attitude that says that you just hunker down and create these false conflicts between environment and job creation or construction, as the case may be.
If we invest—if we invest in infrastructure development, that's a way to jumpstart this economy, to create jobs for working people. It's a way to—environmental protection, as my colleagues have mentioned, whether it's in regards to air quality and new technologies for cars, these are places where we can create jobs and inspire the kind of economic development from the bottom up that this economy needs.
Trickle down economics clearly does not work. You can cut interest rates to negative 5, and it's not going to work. You have to begin to put the money where it belongs, among the masses of the people.
WARREN OLNEY: Steve Curwood, question for Senator Lieberman.
STEVE CURWOOD: Thanks, Warren. Senator Lieberman, I've seen you at the climate changes talks in Kyoto and Buenos Aires. The Kyoto process has run into a brick wall known as the Bush Administration right now. But the law of the land does include the UN framework convention on climate change. This is something that was signed by the United States, ratified by the United States Senate. Perhaps you voted to ratify it, in fact.
My question is this: This law, which requires the United States to implement programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to report them and to attempt—to make the effort to get to a reduction.
How well do you think this law is being implemented by the Bush Administration? And if you were President of the United States, how would you implement the law of the land, otherwise known as UN framework convention on climate change?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Like most every other environmental laws, this one is not being at all implemented by the Bush Administration. I mean this is the most anti-environment administration in our history; much worse than Reagan, and incredibly worse than the first President Bush.
There's a disregard for the law and for the reality of the threat that environmental pollutants frame our future and our health. People are hurting from what's happening now.
The problem with the UN framework of course is that it had no teeth. That's why we went to Kyoto. That's why the nations of the world came together and said, "We've got a problem here and if we don't deal with it, people are going to get hurt. Low-lying lands are going to disappear. And that includes in the United States. Diseases will travel to places they haven't been before.
This requires leadership. That's why Kyoto was negotiated. I was there; vice President Gore was there. We were moving towards something. And then the Bush Administration just came in and said, "Forgot about it." An act of colossal irresponsibility for which history will hold this administration accountable. I will be committed to doing something about this from the first day I get into the oval office and that will begin with the McCain Lieberman climate change control bill. Standards, caps—
WARREN OLNEY: Senator, you're out of time.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: -- and market-based mechanisms to make it happen. We've got to lead here.
STEVE CURWOOD: Well, but with all due respect, I don't think you really responded to my question directly. The Kyoto—
SENATOR LIEBERMAN:I certainly responded to your question.
STEVE CURWOOD: The UN—that's true. Thank you. The UN framework convention may not have any teeth, but by golly, it's got gums and a bite to it. And what it does is it requires the United States government to implement a program of greenhouse gas reductions. We're required under this.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Right.
WARREN OLNEY: 30 seconds.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, we are in violation of it. It has no teeth.
STEVE CURWOOD: Well, what would you do?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Oh, I'd continue to do all the other things I've done. My energy independence program would
require much more greater fuel efficiency, 40 miles a gallon.
The Clean Power Act that I've cosponsored with Jim Jeffords would clean up the power plants, close down the old ones there wasn't as much junk in the air, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Look, the important thing about greenhouse gas and climate change responses is, as somebody said to me, it's a win-win. Not only do you prevent the most catastrophic economics of global warming in the future, but today you clean up the air. So—
WARREN OLNEY: That's it.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: -- people are not dying. And , kids in Los Angeles have asthma aggravated by dirty air. If we took some of the steps I've talked about, they'd be healthier.
WARREN OLNEY: Senator your 30 seconds is up.
Paul Rogers, question for Senator Kerry.
PAUL ROGERS: Senator Kerry, one of the other democratic candidates, Dennis Cucinich, isn't here today. He's at a rally with Ralph Nader on the East Coast and the Green Party. Some environmentally minded voters have joined the Green
Party. Supporters say that the Green Party is not as beholden to special interests as the Democratic Party is, while opponents say that Ralph Nader's candidacy in 2000 cost Al Gore the election by siphoning away critical votes in Florida and New Hampshire. What's your view of that?
SENATOR KERRY: Well, I think it did obviously siphon away some votes. And clearly Al Gore had to spend a significant amount of money in a number of states, Washington, Oregon, elsewhere in order to pull back from where it was.
I know Ralph raider—Ralph Nader—that's probably appropriate.
I've sat with him and talked to him already in the course of the last months. Look, we have to talk to those people. To a degree, it is the fault of the democratic party for not having stood up and been clear about our agenda.
And I believe we have to make it crystal-clear. I see no reason. I went through and read the Green Party platform. I don't agree with every single part of it, but I certainly agree with the components on the environment and raising the standards of our trade negotiations and things we need to do to bring people up.
I'm going to talk to those people. And I am going to provide a series of clear choices on water, on air, on environmental justice, on global warming. We cannot drill our way out of this problem. We have to invent our way out of this problem. And we need to get about the business of doing it now. I think we can attract the voters.
WARREN OLNEY: Want to ask a follow-up?
PAUL ROGERS: Specifically, which sections of the platform of the Green Party or Green Party issues do you disagree with?
SENATOR KERRY: Well, it's a long platform and I don't have time in 30 seconds to go through it all, but I—
PAUL ROGERS: Is there that one you can name?
SENATOR KERRY: They were specifically opposed to any of the trade agreements in the 1990s. And I thought Bill Clinton led us to a place where we created 43 million new jobs. We had the lowest inflation, the lowest unemployment. We not only balanced the budget, but we paid down the debt of our nation for two successive years, and we did it trading.
I want to lead us to a place where we not only create that kind of economy, but where we have a smarter set of trade alternatives now that raise the standards on labor and environment. No goods should ever enter this country that have touched the hands of children. And we need a President who begins to enforce those standards.
WARREN OLNEY: John North, question for Governor Dean.
JOHN NORTH: Governor, you've had reservations, I understand, about the Kyoto protocol. Can you give us our problems with the Kyoto protocol, and what would it take for you to support it?
GOVERNOR DEAN: First, let me say that I think we need to find a way to sign the Kyoto protocol. The biggest problem with the Kyoto protocol is it doesn't ask the developing nations to do anything. And that's an enormous problem. We don't wanted to move our smoke stack industries to avoid the things they're going to have to do comply with Kyoto.
So what I want to do is when the window comes up in 2006, we need to get back into the negotiations. And here's my proposal: Allow the developing nations—require them to comply, reduce greenhouse gases, give them a 20-year run-in, instead of the 5 run-in that we ought to have. And then have the GA pay between 25 and 30 percent of their costs.
We have to got to get all—I've been—spent some significant amount of time in both China and Brazil. I know what they're are doing to the environment there. That is not acceptable. And Kyoto has to apply to all of us. But we need to be a mode in where we negotiate it successfully, so we can sign it.
JOHN NORTH: Connected to that, do you believe in the United States in a hard cap on pollution from power plants?
GOVERNOR DEAN: Pardon me?
JOHN NORTH:A cap on pollution from power plants.
GOVERNOR DEAN: Yeah, we should but—and I'm going to use my remaining 25 seconds to put forth a proposal that I haven't been able to do because of this format.
I'm the only guy here who's ever had to deal on the ground with brown fields and with Superfund. My proposal for that is that let the federal government take over the liability and let them sue the corporations, because I can tell you I've had super funds sites in my state that it's taken years and years and years to clean up. We will do the cleanup first, and then let the Feds sue to let the polluters pay. We need those the brown fields. We need the Superfund sites cleaned up first. Let the Feds go after the corporations, get the cleanup done first.
WARREN OLNEY:I just have to point out that the format was negotiated between the campaigns and the sponsors of the event.
GOVERNOR DEAN:I got my 25 seconds.
WARREN OLNEY: Pilar Marrero, question for Reverend Sharpton.
PILAR MARRERO: Reverend Sharpton, among the top spenders in campaign contributions and lobbying in Washington are some of the biggest oil, energy and automakers who have thrown tens of millions of dollars to politicians seeking to influence policy on issues such as global warming, fuel economy standards and the Kyoto protocol.
Don't you believe there is something wrong with the system that allows this and what would you do to fix it.
REVEREND SHARPTON:I not only think there's something wrong with it, I think the results are what we see. They've been able to, in effect, buy their way into situations that have rendered the American people in an environmental precarious position.I think that we need to expose that.
One of the things I think we must do in is have a theme in the democratic race of follow the money. And we need to show where the money went and where clean water went. Where the money went and where clear air went. Where the money went and where regulations of some of these big oil companies.
I mean the Bush Administration has been sopro oil at a time that we need the world to get off of this hostage situation we are in, in terms of dependence on Middle East oil, it is so oily in Washington now, it's down right greasy.
And we need to make that case to the American people to get the greasy people out of Washington and bring the right
PILAR MARRERO: Now, should high-level officials, like presidents and vice presidents and Congress people, that have or have had some friends in the oil industry or have been in the oil industry, should they excuse themselves from making those decisions?
REVEREND SHARPTON: Well, I clearly think where there's a conflict of interest in any area, and especially this one, people should excuse themselves.I don't think they will. So I think that the American public is going to have to do it for them.
This administration has clearly had more conflicts of interest in two years than we probably see in a lifetime. And I think we've clearly got to expose it. We have got to stop being timid about things.
They went after the Democrats with a vengeance on non-issues. We have real things to go off Bush and Cheney about in their conflicts. We're not being defeated as much as we're surrendering. We need to take the fight to them on behalf of the American people.
WARREN OLNEY: Steve Curwood, you are up with a question for Senator Moseley-Braun.
STEVE CURWOOD: Senator, you come from a state that has substantial agricultural production, downstate you call it I guess out there in Illinois. What I want to ask you about are subsidies.
At the World Summit on sustainable development, which I believe you attended—you did not. I'm sorry—there was much discussion that the United States agricultural subsidy practices as well as European subsidy practices are a major cause of environmental degradation in the Third World because big, rich corporations import food that can't be grown at an effective level in these Third World countries, and they must turn to growing things and certain behaviors that are highly destructive to the environment.
So my question is this: What would you do about agricultural subsidies that are—that the world sees as fairly destructive to the environment?
SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: Well, at the outset everybody subsidizes agriculture. Every country does. And the question is whether or not the subsidies will be used to improve air and water and wildlife quality.
We have a conservation security program which was a start to get farmers to invest in low input, high yield kinds of agriculture that did not require so much on the front end, in terms of pesticides and inputs, and at the same time that would drive—that caused the driving of family farmers off of the farm. So we need to find balance again so that we balance the inputs in terms of our own agricultural policy, but then make sure that our subsidies do go to providing for security—for conservation security and the like.
We should reward farmers to produce for specific markets and increase exports in those markets. We are not doing that right now. In fact, if anything we are rewarding agri-business to the extent—to the detriment very often of, again, the small and medium-sized farmers which really do a better job.
WARREN OLNEY: That's your time. Steve, ask a follow-up.
STEVE CURWOOD: Let me try again.
What I was trying to ask you is: The Third World, poor parts of this planet, complain that our subsidized exports kill their local agricultural production, and force poor people, subsistence farmers there to engage in environmentally destructive practices.
What would you do to reduce or eliminate those US subsidies that hurt poor and Third World farmers and the environment?
SENATOR MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, certainly where we are found guilty—where we have encouraged dumping into Third World markets, that absolutely ought to be stopped. That's part of the working well with others, to work through international forestry to see to it that our exports go where needed and we are not just dumping excess products in other areas, in Third World areas. That's one thing.
Helping, as we do, Third World countries with development with getting water, with irrigation policies, with modern or appropriate farming techniques for their area is something that we are doing and can do more of. So those are the kinds of things that we can and should be doing.
WARREN OLNEY: Thank you, Senator. Paul Rogers, question for Senator Lieberman.
PAUL ROGERS: Senator Lieberman, I have a similar question for you as Senator Kerry. As you well know, better than maybe anybody else in this room, Ralph Nader got 95,000 votes in Florida in 2000. Al Gore lost by 500. Ralph Nader got more than 20,000 votes in New Hampshire. You and Al Gore came about 7,000 short of beating Bush in that state, either of which would have given you the White House.
Do you resent Nader running right to the end and not dropping out, or do you think he had every right to be there? What are your thoughts about his role in that election?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, first, let me say if all the votes had still been voted in Florida, I'd still be in the White House and so would Al Gore.
And incidentally, just for a moment let us give ourselves the pleasure of thinking how much better off our environment would have been if Al Gore had been our President for the last2 ½ years.
Do I resent Ralph Nader? No. He had a right to run. But I think his running created exactly the negative, destructive situation that we predicted. We said that a vote for Ralph Nader was a vote for George Bush.
If we are worried about the quality of our environment, protecting our national resources, protecting our health from environmental pollutants, then you better think about how this is going to be under George W. Bush. And now we've got 2 ½ years to say unfortunately I was right.
We've got to be aggressive about the environment. We have got to distinguish ourselves from this President and offer a clear alternative not to hesitate to be the pro environment party because, believe me, that embraces the best values of the American people and speaks to where they want to be.
This is not a partisan matter. As far as I've seen in Connecticut and around the country, Democrats, Republicans, Independents all want a pro environment President. And George Bush in that regard has been a disaster.
WARREN OLNEY: Paul, follow-up.
PAUL ROGERS: Quick follow-up touching on President Bush. President Bush has occasionally in the last couple years won praise from environmentalists, such as his EPA decision to lower diesel emissions from millions of trucks, buses and off road equipment, and a few wilderness bills that he has signed. Which environmental decisions from President Bush do you agree with?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Frankly, I can't think of one. I mean the truth is that—
PAUL ROGERS: Not even the diesel standards?
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, the diesel was okay, you know. But it's such a rare exception. This man has turned the
Environmental Protection Agency into the environmental destruction agency.
I've talked before about Soviet policies of mistruth. Look at his Clear Skies initiative. It makes the skies dirtier. Look at his Healthy Forest initiative. It makes the forest sicker. Look at his freedom car plan. It keeps our cars chained to foreign oil.
This has been the worst environmental President in our history, compromised the great natural gifts that God has given America, open spaces, wildlife refuges and negatively impacted—made us sicker as a result of the failure—the yielding to special interests and the failure to enforce the law.
WARREN OLNEY: You're out of time Senator. John North, question for Senator Kerry.
JOHN NORTH: Senator, you said in Anaheim that you would buy back the offshore oil leases in California. I assume that includes other offshore areas as well. How much would it cost? Where would you get the money? The oil companies say it would be billions of dollars.
SENATOR KERRY: It is in the billions if you have to do that. I don't think we have to do that. I think if you have a thoughtful, engaged President who recognizes the need to push this country to energy independence, which I have laid out a very clear path to, we can avoid the need to-do that because we can begin to transition our economy.
I mean Norbeck Minister in 1973 said that the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones. And the oil age is not going to end because we've run out of oil.
Now, we need to push the curve. If we create the energy that I'm talking about from, number one, the raising of the fuel standards, save million barrels of oil a day, completely obviate what we take from the Middle East. Number two, create the energy institute/hydrogen institute, push for the creation of the new energy sources. Number 3, ethanol and biomass and alternatives, we can reduce our dependency so we don't need to drill offshore because we are moving and transitioning to the next wave of our energy source for this country. And that by doing so—sorry.
WARREN OLNEY: Go ahead, John.
JOHN NORTH: Until we make that transition, would you buy back the oil leases off California?
SENATOR KERRY: You don't have to because again you don't have to move to that point. Would I be willing to do it if it was a choice between their continuing to drill and that's the only source we have, yes, I'd do that because absent having another brother be governor of California, it's clear we're not going to get the choice of not having him prohibit it. So we have to take the steps ourselves.
But I think if we had a President—look, the 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that could come from the 95 percent of the Alaska oil shelf that's open for drilling. John Brown of BP tells us that the greatest unexplored oil field in the world is the Deep Sea in the Gulf of Mexico.
If we begin this transitioning now, while I know it will take us 25, 30, 40 years to completely wean ourselves, we can completely preclude this administration's drive to drill in national monuments and offshore. And that's the leadership we need.
WARREN OLNEY: Pilar, question for Governor Dean.
PILAR MARRERO: Governor, water quality is becoming a bigger issue for populations in the inner city when old plumbing and treatment plants are decaying in rural areas and small communities there needs to be investment in infrastructure, but in the last 20 years the federal government hasn't lived up to that. Do you have plans to address this?
GOVERNOR DEAN: I do. I think the President's been incredibly foolish to have these enormous tax cuts which really haven't helped Americans with jobs at all. Here's what I'd to for jobs: First, stimulate small business because they create more jobs than large businesses do, and they don't move their jobs to Indonesia. And secondly, invest in infrastructure.
Now, in our state we're very careful about what we do. We invest in sewer and water, but we don't invest in sewer and water if it leads to urban sprawl.
We don't want certain infrastructure, because we know if we build it, then the development that we don't want follows. But we need to fix the old infrastructure now. It will create jobs and build an infrastructure for the new economy, and it will reduce the pollution that's going to our waters. And that's a much better investment than giving tax credits to people like Ken Lay.
PILAR MARRERO: Another issue with water is the levels of toxics in the water and specifically mercury. If you go to the supermarket here in California, you'll see notices that children and pregnant woman shouldn't eat certain cans of fish because they contain high levels of mercury.What would you specifically advocate in terms of reduction in mercury and other emissions?
GOVERNOR DEAN: This is actually one of the things I did when I was chairman of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadien Premiers. We passed a mercury program that's far in excess of what anybody in the United States does.
This is one of the ways you can win on environment. You've got to connect people with the consequences. You can't just talk about coal pollution, which is the way to reduce mercury pollution is to reduce what's going on in the Midwest. You've got to say just what you said," That you can't eat the fish in my part of the country because there is a mercury advisory in almost every freshwater lake in New England and the East."
So you've got to win by connecting what happens in the environment to average American voters, not talking about greenhouse gases and TMDL's and all these things. Connect it to their everyday lives.
What you do with mercury is what we need to do with mercury. We need to deal with the emissions from coal-burning plants in the Midwest, and we need to fundamentally go off all the sources of mercury, but most of that is air pollution.
WARREN OLNEY: We have some questions that have been submitted by people in the audience, people on the Internet, and I want to take the few remaining moments we have to ask those.
And let me put the next one to Reverend Sharpton. I'll just go down the list in order as we would have gone otherwise.
Brian Holland of Atlanta, Georgia asks this: "Globalization has provided economic growth, but also has had significant environment impacts, such as deforestation and over fishing. How would you hold multinational organizations accountable and address environment degradation associated with trade?"
REVEREND SHARPTON: First of all, I'm opposed to many of the trade agreements, including NAFTA and others in the 90's. I think that for any trade agreement, though, that I would support as President or advocate in this campaign you must have a strong environmental part of the trade agreement that is enforceable.
We cannot in the name of trade go against the best interests of the people of the world. We have too long allowed government to say we must sacrifice environment, sacrifice health in order to stimulate the economy, either globally or domestically. And I don't think that's a fair exchange.
I think we need a President that says clearly some things are nonnegotiable, and that in my judgment should be nonnegotiable.
WARREN OLNEY: Next question to Senator Moseley-Braun. This comes from Dan Skolls of Rosalie, Illinois, or excuse me, Rosel, Illinois. Beg your pardon. What do you feel is the most significant challenge to protecting our remaining wilderness area and how would you address it?
SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: Well, the most significant challenge is this administration, it seems to me. I think that we have to be very clear about wildlife conservation, funding fish and wildlife, to make certain that we actually enforce and don't let them continue to gut Endangered Species Act.
I think we have to deal with the issue of urban sprawl that's endangering our wilderness areas. And we have to again go back and look at the whole issue of enforcement, which I think really is the biggest issue we have with this administration and where we are right now.
And in that regard, I want to point out that one of the most insidious things that they're doing has to do with packing the courts. They are packing the courts with jurists who have an anti environmental agenda. This is something I think we really have to be very concerned about.
We also have to be concerned about breaking up the kind of revolving door Cabal that this administration has put in place—"stop" is upside down—the Cabal that they put in place, of people who really have no problem at all with allowing for development to run a mock and destroy wilderness areas, without concern for protecting our heritage.
WARREN OLNEY: I'm going to go a bit out of order because according to our timers, Governor Dean hasn't had quite as much time as the other guests have. So Governor Dean, I'll put this one to you. Now, this comes from Phil Landrigan. It doesn't say where Phil Landrigan is located.
"Children are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants because of their developing immune systems. What steps would you take to protect children from environment threats?"
GOVERNOR DEAN: We talked about environmental racism. I think the key to environmental racism is raise the bar for all pollution. And if more pollution's in minority communities, that stops, too. That applies to all—we talked about lead. That's absolutely critical. We talked about mercury. That's absolutely critical.
The bottom line is if we want to win this election based on environmental issues, we have got to connect the environment, as I was saying, to mercury directly through families, talk about what happens to your child when they go to the emergency room with an asthma attack. Those are the kinds of things that we can do. Talk directly about children, and then connect to the environment, just as we connect national security to the environment by not having a renewable energy policy of any kind. WARREN OLNEY: That's all the time we have for questions and answers, once again, according to the format negotiated by the campaigns and the sponsors.
Thanks very much to Pilar Marrero, Steve Curwood, Paul Rogers and John North for joining us.
It is time now for closing statements. And each candidate will have one minute and 30 seconds to make a closing statement;
and we're going to start with Senator Lieberman.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Thank you very much, and thanks to the California LCV for sponsoring this forum. This has been a very important discussion. I draw from it one overriding conclusion, that the most important goal we in the environmental movement in America must have today is to replace George W. Bush as the President of the of the United States. And in that we are all united. That of course means that we must nominate democratic candidate who can defeat him. I'm hereto tell you, not surprisingly, I believe I'm that candidate.
I am that candidate because I can take this President on where he's supposed to be strong, on security and values, and defeat him where he has been weak and irresponsible, on the economy and the environment.
I'm a different kind of Democrat. George W. Bush is an indifferent kind of Republican. Environmental protection has been a passion and priority of my public life. Needless to say, that is not so for this President.
He has called in the special interests to write his administration's environmental policy. When I was Attorney General of Connecticut I hauled those special interests into court. And that's exactly the attitude I would bring to the oval office.
I have been in my time in the Senate of the United States as strong in defending our nation's environment as I have been strong in defending our nation's security. That balance, that mixture makes me unique among the candidates for President of the United States this year, particularly George W. Bush. That's why I know I can defeat him. So I ask you, imagine—
WARREN OLNEY: Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR LIEBERMAN:I ask you finally—I'll say in a sentence—stand with me and we can, on election day, put the polluters out of the Whitehouse and reclaim our nation's environment for the generations to come.
Thank you very, very much.
WARREN OLNEY: Closing statement from Governor Dean.
GOVERNOR DEAN: Whoever thought we would long for the days of James Watt.
Let me tell you first what I did when I was governor. We had a five-year plan. That's all the things governors have deal with. Balancing the budgets. Education formula that's a 20-year plan. That's what we did with investing in kids and making sure every kid in the state had health insurance under 18.
Then we had a 100-year plan, and that's all environmental. We set aside hundreds of thousands of acres that would never be developed. We put in lead paint restrictions, improved water quality. I closed 75 local landfills, which was incredibly politically difficult.
The way I'm going to win this election is the way I need to win this election, and the only way the Democrats can within this election is why I think that I'm the only candidate that can beat George Bush.
I've brought hundreds of thousands of new people into this process already. I was at a meeting in Seattle a couple weeks ago. 1200 people came to hear what I said. 600 had never been involved in politics before.
We can't win this election by trying to belike George Bush. The only way we can win is to put our stake in the middle of an electorate the way it should be and expand the electorate. And that's what this campaign's doing. We are bringing new people in that have given up, and I'm going to allow them not to give up and vote Democratic and beat George Bush.
WARREN OLNEY: Senator Moseley-Braun.
SENATOR MOSELEY-BRAUN: Howard, I just couldn't help but take this chance to laugh at the fact that if there is a candidate that's the least like George Bush at this table, it's me.
My candidacy springs from a passionate patriotism and a desire to free our country from the clutches of the extreme Right Wing that is knowing power.
As President, I will rebuild America, both physically and spiritually. Our economy can come out of this recession when we return to the economic policies of the Clinton era and invest in working people, invest in rebuilding infrastructure, reforming healthcare and restoring our environment.
This administration's hypocrisy frankly has been breathtaking. They have done everything from gutting laws that we thought we had in place, protections we thought we had, to coming up with new things to take even more of our civil liberties away from us.
In addition to what they've done to the courts, in addition to Patriot 1 and all the pandering to fear and division that they've resorted to, the newest announcement that came just yesterday is they have something now called an Integrated Earth Observation System, which is the replacement for Total Information Awareness that will, quote, take the pulse of the planet, using satellite and ground-based weather, climate and vegetation observation.
Well, what do these people need to look at anything for when they're destroying what we already know we have.
I believe that we have—my candidacy does honor to our ancestors who fought for social justice and for the environment, and gives hope to our children who deserve to get no less liberty, no less freedom, no less opportunity, no less optimism—
WARREN OLNEY: Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR MOSELEY BRAUN:-- than we inherited from the last generation.
WARREN OLNEY: Reverend Sharpton.
REVEREND SHARPTON:I think that all of us can state why we are unique and why we are different, and I don't need to use any part of my minute to confirm my uniqueness on this panel.
But my honest opinion is that a candidate cannot be beat George Bush. A movement must beat George Bush. If we fight George Bush using clubhouse politics and slick commercials, we will be defeated. But if we stand for what is right and if we connect to every American what their interests are, George Bush cannot get away with what he got away with in 2000.
What I bring to this campaign is the ability to communicate to those areas of this country that have been disenfranchised and marginalized, that is the margin of Victory in 2004.
George Bush can be defeated. He didn't win last time. But he cannot win this time if the people come out in unprecedented numbers and understand that air is our air, that water is our water. We must get rid of Bush not for the Democrats, but for our ourselves.
WARREN OLNEY: Senator Kerry.
SENATOR KERRY:I think it's clear that the one thing we don't need is as we approach this race is a second Republican party. And as President Clinton said a little while ago, the 2002 election showed that strong and wrong beats weak and right.
I believe that the record I bring to this raise proves I can be strong and right and provide strong leadership to lead us in the right direction.
I am proud of the fact that I have the strongest lifetime 19-year voting record of LCV of those who've been measured, 96.5 percent, and the road traveled is prologue to the road to be traveled.
I led the fight against Gale Norton, led the fight with John McCain to raise campaign standards, led the fight against Arctic drilling, led the fight against Gingrich to stop him attacking the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.
I've written our fishery laws, flood insurance laws, marine mammal protection. And I am going to be a President in the best
tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, President Eisenhower and Bill Clinton who put away 350 million acres.
We are going to lead this country of ours to a better place, and we are going to prove to the world that the real definition of patriotism is not going to be stolen by those who believe the flag or patriotism belongs to them.
The real definition of patriotism is how we make our country stronger for our children. The environment—
WARREN OLNEY: We're out of time, Senator.
SENATOR KERRY:-- is a national security issue.
WARREN OLNEY: Thank you very much. I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we are simply out of time. It is over with.
Thank you for being with us. Thanks to our reporters as well.
(Whereupon, at 6:00 P.M.,
the debate was concluded.)