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 Published by the American Geological Institute
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

October 2000

News Notes
Geoscience in the presidential campaign
Geoscience is part of some of the hottest topics this presidential election year. With skyrocketing energy
prices predicted to continue into the winter, issues of natural resources, energy and environmental
impacts remain in the spotlight.  A candidate’s stance often matches the party platform.
By Audrey Slesinger, AGI/AIPG Geoscience Policy Intern

Natural resources
Gov. George W. Bush’s agenda to protect natural resources encourages private stewardship of land. He would establish a $50 million Landowner Incentive Program for private landowners who protect rare species. The program would also create a tax incentive for those who sell their land for conservation purposes. These tax credits may be more relevant if the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) of 2000 passes Congress this fall. CARA would authorize the federal government to use outer-continental shelf oil revenues to purchase and protect land through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Bush also states that he will fully fund the LWCF while giving half of the money to state and local efforts.

Following the Republican platform on energy issues, Bush believes that the best way to decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil sources is to open public lands to exploration and development. Bush would dissolve restrictions on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) so that increased domestic oil production would help meet increasing demand without increasing oil imports. He supports the moratorium against new oil and gas leases off the California and Florida coast, but  would be open to a case-by-case authorization of older leases.

Bush’s environmental platform focuses on transferring environmental management to the states, while maintaining strict federal regulation. He supports the cleanup of abandoned and moderately contaminated sites, known as Brownfields, and believes that redevelopers who meet high state cleanup standards should have protection from federal Superfund liability. Bush opposes the Kyoto Protocol on the grounds that it unfairly exempts developing countries from compliance. On the topic of Yucca Mountain, Gov. Bush has stated that “sound science, and not politics, must prevail in the designation of any high-level nuclear waste repository.” 


Natural resources
Vice President Al Gore’s platform will keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and southern Florida closed to oil and gas drilling. He intends to increase protection of federal lands through the designation of national monuments and would increase funding for maintaining national parks. 

Gore’s energy platform focuses on increasing energy efficiency and on finding alternative energy sources in all sectors so that the nation uses smaller volumes of imported oil. His National Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund relies heavily on market mechanisms such as tax credits to encourage energy efficiency increases in cars, SUVs, trucks, homes and businesses. The fund would provide money to improve the weatherization of low-income houses as well as tax credits to businesses for using cleaner energy alternatives. The plan also nurtures state attempts to decrease overall energy consumption. Gore supports the moratorium on existing and new leases to drill for oil and gas from most of the outer continental shelf surrounding the 50 states.

The National Energy Security and Environment Trust Fund also addresses many of Gore’s environmental goals. Overall, he advocates more stringent environmental protection standards. He would attempt to get the Kyoto Protocol — an international plan to decrease greenhouse gas emissions — ratified by Congress. Gore has promoted the Superfund Tax Fund reauthorization to support the cleanup of seriously contaminated sites around the country. He also supports the remediation of Brownfields by making the fund’s tax incentive permanent. On the disposal of high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev., Gore believes that the Environmental Protection Agency should retain its regulatory authority to establish standards for future exposure.

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