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Published Friday, January 14, 2000,
in the Akron Beacon Journal.

  

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Environmental groups want to meet Gore

  • Coalition of activists plans to keep issue alive during election campaign

    BY BOB DOWNING
    Beacon Journal staff writer

    A coalition of Ohio Valley organizations, along with actor Martin Sheen, Love Canal activist Lois Gibbs and the eco-group Greenpeace, is pressing Vice President Al Gore to make good on his campaign promises of 1992 in connection with an Ohio hazardous-waste incinerator.

    The coalition wants to meet with Gore in late January in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Waste Technologies Industries incinerator.

    ``We have no idea if Gore will meet with us or not, but we're hopeful,'' said activist Terri Swearingen, of Chester, W.Va.

    ``He did not keep the promises he made to our community . . . so we're asking if we can trust him on anything else. It's an issue of trust and accountability.''

    Swearingen met Gore briefly on Dec. 13 on a campaign stop in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid and pressed her case.

    ``We want to turn it up a notch in what is obviously a political year,'' said incinerator opponent Alonzo Spencer, of East Liverpool. ``We hope he will remember his promise. We have not forgotten.''

    President Clinton and Gore had raised the hopes of incinerator opponents in July 1992 on a campaign swing through Weirton, W.Va., when they criticized the plant. Then on Dec. 7, 1992, Gore, as vice president-elect, promised the administration would not issue a test permit until the health risks were studied.

    The Bush administration issued the permit on Jan. 8, 1993, before Clinton took office. The Clinton administration says it is unable to shut down the incinerator without proof that it is causing problems. Opponents contend Clinton could shut down the plant, which has been operating for seven years.

    A spokeswoman for Gore's office said a response will be forthcoming concerning the requested meeting.

    Sheen expects to be in Washington in late January in conjunction with filming the television series West Wing, in which he plays the president.

    The Ohio-born actor is a Gore supporter although he has twice been arrested in connection with protests concerning the $160 million incinerator on the Ohio River.

    Greenpeace has unveiled a new Internet site that outlines in detail the Gore promises on WTI.

    That includes an audiotape of Gore's 1992 campaign promises on WTI and copies of original documents including Gore's Dec. 7, 1992, post-election press release. It also allows individuals to send their own e-mail message on WTI to Gore's office. It is at http://www.greenpeaceusa.org/features/gore.htm on the World Wide Web.

    Ohio Citizen Action, a statewide environmental-consumer group, has a WTI site, at http://www.ohiocitizen.org/campaigns/prevention/wti/wti.html on the Web.

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