The first question, addressed to Congressman Porter, dealt with the Bush administration's apparent unwillingness to lead in environmental concerns. Elmer Cerin, a lobbyist, offered three examples of this unwillingness: opposition to population control, the Hall-Fields Amendment supported by the Bush administration despite the opposition of EPA Administrator William Reilly, and Bush's refusal to participate in an international conference on global warming.Porter responded that the answer is for environmentally concerned persons to work to change policy. He pointed out President Bush's support of voluntary population control while in Congress and suggested that this has not waned.Porter stressed that we can achieve voluntary family planning, a credible national energy policy, and leadership on global warming if those who are interested make themselves heard. Bruce Rich added that the environmental commitment of some of the other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom and Japan, is no better and is sometimes worse than that of the United States.
The ability of USAID to participate in a debt-for-nature swap in Madagascar was questioned by Cynthia Wolloch of the United States Information Agency (USIA). She noted that other agencies would like congressional approval to leverage appropriations, but it is not clear that such approval would be forthcoming or that it would receive public support. Porter responded that the amount leveraged in relation to the total USAID budget was very small; thus the symbolism of the contribution was more significant than the dollar amount.That does not mean that all agencies have carte blanche, but if the amount is small and derived from discretionary funds, Porter suggested that the agency make an effort to use their funds as USAID had.He added that he was unaware of any legal prohibitions and that USIA has a sufficiently broad mission that their discretion should equal that of USAID. He also explained that