SEATTLE -- The following was released today by Nader 2000:
Ralph Nader urged voters concerned with the environment to reconsider
support for Al Gore after testimony revealed that the Vice President had
intervened in support of an environmentally unsafe incinerator in East
Former EPA Administrator William Reilly testified on Tuesday that a top
Gore aide encouraged him to issue a trial-burn permit for the WTI
incinerator located in East Liverpool -- despite Gore's promises not to
before the people of the Ohio River Valley.
"No issue better symbolizes Gore's environmental record than the WTI
incinerator," Nader said this morning. "Gore made the sensible decision to
oppose the incinerator in 1992, promised that a test-burn permit would not
be issued, and then turned around and told the Bush Administration to issue
the permit before he took office. For eight years, Al Gore has flat-out
lied to environmentalists about his role in issuing a test-burn permit on
the WTI incinerator."
Nader sent letters to Carl Pope of the Sierra Club and Brent Blackwelder
of Friends of the Earth asking them to rescind their organizations'
endorsements of Gore based upon Reilly's testimony.
Reilly told the EPA National Ombudsman that Kathleen McGinty, the top
environmental aide to the Vice-President elect, told him in a January 6,
1993 meeting that "the Vice-President elect had second thoughts on the
issue" and "would be grateful if (William Reilly) made the decision (to
issue a permit) before leaving office." McGinty has testified that she does
not "recall" any meetings about the incinerator. The trial-burn permit was
issued on Jan. 8.
During the 1992 campaign, Al Gore called the incinerator "unbelievable,"
adding: "The Clinton-Gore administration is going to give you an
environmental presidency to deal with these problems. We'll be on your side
for a change." On Dec. 7, 1992 Gore's office issued a press release
headlined: "CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION WOULD NOT ISSUE TEST BURN PERMIT."
Gore has cited the Bush Administration's issuing of the trial-burn permit
as the reason that the Clinton Administration could not intervene in the
matter. In a March 13, 2000 interview with Pittsburgh TV station KDKA, Gore
stated that his "legal ability to stop the permit was removed" because the
Bush Administration issued the permit during the transition period.
In the letter to Pope and Blackwelder, Nader wrote that the incinerator
is symbolic of Gore's record on environmental issues. "Even on issues where
the Republican Congress cannot influence Gore's accomplishments as the head
of the Administration's environmental portfolio, we see stunning failures,
masked by rosy rhetoric -- take the 50 percent decline in prosecutions of
environmental crime, accompanied by a startling reduction in conviction
rate reported by PEER, or Gore's failure to take positions on numerous
local issues, from mountaintop removal in West Virginia in Kentucky to the
proposed airport bordering the Everglades."
"This marks a major betrayal of the public trust," Nader wrote, "and
particularly the trust of environmentalists who have been told year after
year, on issue after issue that they have a friend in the White House, even
as trade agreements have passed with no environmental protection standards,
the salvage rider was signed, and EPA and FDA regulation has become weaker
and weaker under the rubric of reinventing government."
"Gore's actions on the WTI incinerator seriously undermine the argument
that a vote for him is worthwhile simply to keep Bush out of office. For
eight years, Gore's lies have prevented citizen groups from having
knowledge about why the test-burn permit was passed, about whom they should
be protesting. We should remember that whatever the consequence of this
testimony for Gore's campaign, they do not match the consequences faced by
the citizens of the Ohio River Valley, and particularly the children at the
elementary school 400 yards from the smokestack."
"(Reilly's testimony) says we haven't been told the truth since the
beginning," said Terri Swearingen, a citizen of Chester, West Virginia,
located just across the Ohio River from East Liverpool, and a leading
opponent of the WTI incinerator. "We don't really know who to trust,"
The hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool burns 60,000 tons of
hazardous waste every year, making it one of the largest incinerators of
its type in the world, despite the fact that its permit expired in 1995. It
is located in an area with a history of environmental contamination, on a
flood plain, and less than 400 yards away from an elementary school, in
violation of numerous state and federal environmental regulations. Among
the toxic pollutants that the incinerator releases into the air are
dioxins, furans, and metals such as chromium, mercury, lead, benzene and
arsenic. Previous test-burns have indicated that the incinerator releases
dioxins and mercury at levels far higher than those legally allowable, and
a federal judge has ruled that the incinerator does not meet the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) standard of "imminent and
"If Gore can't stand up for the people against this outrageously
dangerous polluter, should anyone believe he will ever fight for the
people, and not the powerful?" Nader said in his Sept. 27 campaign visit to
Nader was effusive in his praise of Terri Swearingen and the citizen
movement opposing the WTI incinerator in his comments before reporters
today in Seattle. "Without the consistent pressure of citizen activists
applied to the Vice President, he would never have requested EPA Ombudsman
to conduct his investigation. Swearingen and the many others involved in
protesting the WTI incinerator should be considered local heroes for their
efforts leading to the exposure of the scientific and political truths
associated with this incinerator."
At a rally in Seattle today, Nader commented that "the environmentalist
mask is fast falling off Al Gore's face."
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