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Letter to the Editor

Gore adviser sees no quick action on creating national nuke dump

By Steve Hargreaves
Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK: Vice President Al Gore's senior environmental adviser touted the Democratic presidential candidate's environmental record Wednesday to students at Bates and Bowdoin colleges.

"Students in Maine are paying attention," Katie McGinty, who has worked for Gore since 1989 when he was a U.S. senator, said before her talk at Bowdoin College's Pickard Theater. "(They) are aware George Bush's record on the environment is deplorable."

McGinty said Gore has worked to implement the toughest clean air regulations in a generation and will continue to push Congress to take up and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but only after provisions governing developing nations are included and other details are worked out. The treaty, aimed at reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases, was reached three years ago in Japan and signed by many of the world's countries but has yet to be ratified by the United States.

Gore's clean air record in this country has come under attack from critics who say he violated previous campaign promises.

Nancy Allen, a Surry resident who is spokeswoman for the national Green Party, said Gore reneged on a 1992 campaign pledge to shut down a hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.

McGinty said Gore promised to ensure the safety of the incinerator's neighborhood, which includes homes and a school, through a rigorous permitting process. She said he didn't promise to shut down the incinerator. "It was determined the incinerator did not pose a public health threat," she said.

On issues of water quality, McGinty said Gore is proposing to spend $20 billion over the next 10 years to help communities clean drinking water and treat sewage. That amount is double current federal funding. She said that money could be used to help Maine clean up sites contaminated with MTBE, the gas additive that was used to produce a cleaner burning gas.

On other Maine issues, McGinty said Gore supports the development of a centralized nuclear waste repository, but only after extensive testing is done to ensure safety in storage and transportation. Due to such concerns, the development of long-term storage facility has been stalled for years, resulting in on-site storage of high level nuclear waste in such places as the closed Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset.

McGinty said Gore would not take a stand on whether a large part of the Maine woods should be designated a national park, preferring instead to leave that decision up to Maine voters and landowners. In his book "Earth in the Balance," Gore called for the country to come up with a national energy plan focusing on reduced use of fossil fuels and the development of renewable energy technology, a call critics said has been unanswered. McGinty countered that the Republican Congress has only earmarked 12 cents out of every dollar the Clinton-Gore administration has proposed for renewable energy use. She said Gore proposes spending $150 billion over the next 10 years to develop alternatives to fossil fuels and more efficient transportation systems.

When asked why a voter who was concerned about the environment should vote for Gore over Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, McGinty said Nader's environmental proposals have been unspecified and that he doesn't pay attention to other issues such as gay and lesbian rights, and abortion. "His record is not very robust on some of those matters," she said.

McGinty said in the interest of engagement, Gore supported the vote to normalize trade relations with China despite concerns from critics who said such a move would reward a country that has weak environmental and labor standards. "It will open the door for U.S. companies to export technologies that are much cleaner than the ones currently available in China," she said. She also said the Clinton-Gore administration, acting alone, has been advocating for a more democratically run World Trade Organization, the international group governing world trade. The group has been criticized for its secretive way of conducting business.


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