October 31, 2000

Taking a Stand

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Voter apathy is a major issue in the American political system, and unfortunately, young people have been identified as a large part of the problem. At Cornell, however, some students are bucking this trend by taking a stand and making their voices heard.

Nov. 7 will mark a milestone in the lives of many Cornellians as many close the curtains on their polling booths and vote in their first presidential election. But with Election Day just one week away, many students are still undecided when it comes to choosing a candidate. Examining specific election issues is essential to making an educated choice.

Students from the Republican, Democratic, Reform and Green parties sounded off on environmental policy as an election issue and why they feel students should consider this issue before casting their ballots.

This is the third installment in a five part series in which The Sun will examine the election issues important to college students through the eyes of campus political activists.


Carol M. Browner

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Excerpts from her Oct. 3 speech to the National Press Club from .

“Now, as I look ahead, as I look to the future of public health and environmental protection, I believe that there are two matters of paramount importance. First is a set of modern, strengthened environmental laws. This requires an open, public debate, an engaged people, an engaged Congress, an engaged administration. Second, the challenge of climate change. And this will also require an engaged people, an engaged Congress, an administration willing to lead.

“Protecting the environment is a duty we hold in perpetuity. Each generation adds to the foundation, but finality is an illusion, almost like parallel lines meeting at the horizon; it doesn’t happen. But still we need to look to the horizon and beyond, because that is where the solutions to our new challenges lie. As our reach should exceed our grasp, so must our vision extend beyond plain view.

“Thirty years ago, many thought environmental protection was just something we’d put on the national ‘to do’ list. We’d work the problem out, we’d solve it and then we’d check it off the national ‘to do’ list. You know — job well done; environment, public health protected.

“Now we all know today that it really doesn’t work that way. Protecting the environment is a duty we hold in perpetuity. Each generation adds to the foundation, but finality is an illusion, almost like parallel lines meeting at the horizon; it doesn’t happen. But still we need to look to the horizon and beyond, because that is where the solutions to our new challenges lie. As our reach should exceed our grasp, so must our vision extend beyond plain view.

“Meeting challenges: It is our debt to the past, our duty to the future and that makes it our mission in the present.”


Joe Sabia grad

Chancellor, College Republicans Board of Directors

“Governor George W. Bush will lead the effort to modernize environmental protection. For over thirty years, the federal government has focused on mandates and regulations to achieve its environmental goals; Governor Bush understands that a new, more economically efficient solution is needed. He supports the return of significant power to states and localities to address local environmental concerns.

“The Governor trusts the free market to innovate and develop new technologies to improve economic conditions. To that end, he supports a $10 million Private Stewardship Grant Program to provide federal funding for private conservation efforts. He also supports a 50 percent capital gains tax cut to private landowners who choose to sell their land for conservation purposes. Bush will establish a $50 million Landowner Incentive Program that allows states to assist private landowners in protecting rare animal species.

“Finally, Bush understands that the biggest polluter in America is the federal government. He will work to end the double-standard and ensure that the federal government complies with all laws imposed upon private businesses. Bush also supports the privatization of some government-owned lands because he understands that private owners have a greater incentive to care for their property than does the federal government.”


Scott Beemer ’03

Treasurer, Cornell Democrats

“Much fuss has been made over Ralph Nader, who hopes to get a substantial portion of the environmental activists’ support despite Vice President Al Gore’s strong record as a conservationist. Bush has gotten into the action also, calling himself a ‘practical environmentalist.’ Now, Bush, I don’t know what a ‘practical environmentalist’ is, but I do know what you did in Texas, and environmentalism it isn’t.

“As the League of Conservation Voters states, there is ‘no comparison’ between Gore and Bush. ‘When Al Gore wins, the planet wins,’ said Deb Callahan, LCV president, in a statement endorsing Gore as ‘the only choice’ for environmentalist voters. Numerous studies have named Texas as one of the worst polluters, but Bush has blocked attempts at pollution control programs and has refused to enforce the Clean Air Act and other federal requirements.

“In a Gore administration, we would see the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change treaty; stronger industrial standards to reduce pollution levels and protect the ozone layer, and research into new, environmentally friendly technologies, as well as initiatives to save open space and protect both communities and wilderness.”


Sean Carver grad

President, Cornell Green Party

“Ecological Wisdom is one of the key values on which the Green Party was founded. On the issue of the environment, the Green Party truly stands apart from the Democrats and the Republicans. For example, the Green Party would take immediate steps to combat global warming by investing in renewable energy.

“Unfortunately, these technologies are not presently competitive because the federal government subsidizes fossil fuel and nuclear power. Neither Bush nor Gore have the courage to take on the energy industry on this issue. The Green Party proposes to end these subsidies and, if necessary, start subsidizing solar and wind power.

“The Green Party would also push for higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, invest in public transportation, step up prosecution of environmental crimes, and cease logging on federal land. Finally the Green Party would repeal the 1872 Mining Act which allows corporate predators to take our minerals for free then escape without cleaning up their mess.”


Marshall Montgomery ’04

Reform Party Activist

“Big Government buy-ups are not the answer [to environmental issues]. When the radical environmentalists rail about the pollution of big corporations, they should be reminded that in almost all those cases, the companies are polluting land that is owned by the government, and not private parties. Rather than building more bureaucracy, a Buchanan Administration will introduce a common sense, incentive-driven plan that is pro-environment, yet it will not abridge the rights of American citizens.

“Buchanan will promote local responsibility and accountability by abolishing the Bureau of Land Management and giving the 500 million acres of BLM lands ba
ck to the states. He will offer incentives to industry to develop resource-efficient technologies.

“He will oppose international environmental accords like the Kyoto Treaty that would devastate American industry and shackle American industries with regulations that do not apply to other nations. Lastly, only Buchanan will require Congress to vote on every endangered species and compensate property owners when their land is seized and converted into protected ‘habitat.'”

Archived article by Katherine Davis