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When the White House Calls ...

 

February 5, 2000
National Journal

by Margaret Kriz

A failed promise from the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign nearly triggered a public relations disaster for the Vice President in New Hampshire.

Eight years ago, Al Gore vowed to block the operation of a hazardous-waste incinerator that had been built next to an elementary school in East Liverpool, Ohio. Before Gore was sworn in as Vice President, however, regulators from the outgoing Bush Administration allowed Waste Technologies Industries to begin operating the incinerator.

An Ohio citizens group, several national environmental activists, and Greenpeace want Gore to oppose a renewal of the company's expired operating license, and they pushed for a meeting to press their concerns. When Gore declined to meet with them, the greens threatened to stage a sit-in on Jan. 31 at Gore 's New Hampshire campaign headquarters in Manchester.

The night before the sit-in, however, the Ohio activists received frantic calls from the White House offering to investigate the potential environmental problems at the incinerator . After hours of negotiations, White House officials agreed to have the Environmental Protection Agency's ombudsman review the case. In return, the activists canceled their planned civil disobedience. But they still want to meet with Gore before the next Democratic primaries on March 7.