President Makes Issue of Environmental Policy: Republicans Urged to Renew Bipartisan Effort

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK, N.J. - President Clinton yesterday turned his re-election campaign focus on Republican congressional efforts to curb environmental protection, calling the GOP majority traitors to past bipartisan commitments to stop pollution and clean up toxic-waste dumps.

"This Congress has mounted the most aggressive anti-environmental campaign in our history, and I am proud that we have stood against that," Mr. Clinton told supporters.

The president urged Republicans to join Democrats in boosting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental programs. The GOP has proposed cutting EPA spending and limiting its enforcement operations.

Mr. Clinton was accompanied to a toxic-waste site near Hackensack by Vice President Al Gore, who heralded efforts by Presidents Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt to stop polluters, build national parks and improve the nation's environment. "The environment is not a partisan issue," he said.

Mr. Gore said Republican congressional leaders have abandoned the fight, and he noted that many Republicans sat stone-faced when the president called for environmental protections during his State of the Union address in January.

"It didn't used to be that way, and it shouldn't be that way," he said. "This ought to be a bipartisan commitment, and we're asking that it be again."

While in New Jersey, Mr. Clinton announced a four-part package of tax incentives to clean up urban toxic dumps, known as "brown fields." An EPA official said the estimated $2 billion in tax breaks to business will result in $10 billion in cleanup spending.

Even though the trip to New York and New Jersey was dubbed official business, it had the air of a campaign swing. At a rally at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Beatles music blared as the president entered, and some in the audience chanted, "Four more years."

The New Jersey visit highlighted the administration's plan to attack Republicans in the presidential campaign as enemies of the environment.

The White House also plans to portray the Republicans as harmful to education and dangerous to the elderly. …