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Gore Calls On Congress To Bolster Clean Water Act


WASHINGTON (All Politics, Oct. 18) -- Vice President Al Gore celebrated the 25th anniversary of passage of the Clean Water Act on Saturday with a call for Congress to strengthen the law's provisions.

"Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, we have stopped billions upon billions of pounds of pollution from flowing into our rivers, our lakes and streams, and we have doubled the number of waters safe for swimming and fishing," said Gore.

He said this act was one of the nation's most important environmental laws. The Environmental Protection Agency was releasing a report on Saturday of 25 of its success stories as proof that the nation is restoring its waters through the Clean Water Act, Gore said.

Among the success stories the vice president pointed to was the cleanup of the Cuyahoga River in the Cleveland area. The river once was so polluted it caught fire.

Despite the victories, Gore said much remains to be done. He cited the outbreaks of pfiesteria in Maryland and Virginia and the 131 deaths in Milwaukee from tap water because toxins were in the water.

"We need a comprehensive approach to water quality. One that brings together all levels of government," said Gore, who said federal agencies have been ordered to make sure the progress made in water quality is preserved.

"We know phosphorous and nitrogen have become a special risk to our water and marine life. So we will move quickly to establish water quality standards for those pollutants in every part of the country," he said.

Gore said the administration will make fighting coastal runoff damage a priority.

"We see -- 'round the world -- the ocean fisheries being depleted and we see a lot of the critical areas being seriously damaged by coastal runoff. And we see it in our coastal waters, also. Not only on the Atlantic coast now and on the Gulf coast, but now on the Pacific coast."

Gore also called for increasing wetlands by 100,000 acres per year and reducing contaminants that threaten fetal and childhood development, such as mercury.

The vice president called on Congress to abandon property rights legislation hurting state and local efforts to protect water quality.

"The American people want this to be a bipartisan issue. And as we celebrate this anniversary, I think that we ought to try in every way possible to renew the bipartisan nature of America's commitment to cleaning up our water."

Gore hopes Congress works "with us as they did in passing the Safe Drinking Water Act last year and work with us now to strengthen and reauthorize the Clean Water Act on a bipartisan basis."

Gore spoke before an audience of some 250 officials and guests in the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House. Other speakers included EPA Administrator Carol Browner, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Rep. Jim Oberstar (D.-Minn.) and Vicki Deisner, director of the Ohio Environmental Council.

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