Now for the rest of the story. This gives a good analysis of the failings of Gore and the Clinton regime's environmental policies.
Counterpunch - Feb 2, 2007
Some Inconvenient Truths About the Politics of Environmental Crisis
By MITCHEL COHEN
Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," raises the issue of global
in a way that scares the bejeezus out of viewers, as it should since
consequences of global climate change are truly earth-shaking. The
Vice-President does a good job of presenting the graphic evidence,
exquisite and terrifying pictures that document the melting of the
ice caps and the effects on other species, new diseases, and rising
But, typically, the solutions Gore offers are standard Democratic Party
fare. You'd never know by watching this film that Gore and Clinton
country for 8 years and that their policies -- as much as those of
regime -- helped pave the way for the crisis we face today.
Gore never critiques the system causing the global ecological crisis.
one point, he even mourns the negative impact of global warming on
pipelines. Oh, the horror! What it all comes down to, for Gore and the
Democrats, is that we need to shift away from reliance on fossil
tweak existing consumption patterns.
Even there, Gore and Clinton did nothing to improve fuel efficiency
U.S. -- a topic which Gore talks about in the movie without any hint
he'd once actually been in a position to do something about it. The
question Gore poses is, Who can best manage the relatively minor
he recommends, the Democrats or Republicans? For Gore, it's sort of
US, not THEM, to deal with this situation because they are liars and
not." Well, should we trust him?
As Joshua Frank writes, during the campaign for president in 1992 Gore
promised a group of supporters that the Clinton-Gore EPA would never
approve a hazardous waste incinerator located near an elementary
Liverpool, Ohio, which was operated by WTI. "Only three months into
Clinton's tenure," Frank writes, "the EPA issued an operating permit
the toxic burner. Gore raised no qualms. Not surprisingly, most of the
money behind WTI came from the bulging pockets of Jackson Stephens, who
just happened to be one of the Clinton-Gore's top campaign
But failing to shut down toxic incinerators is just the tip of their
betrayal. In the film, Gore references the Kyoto Accords and states
personally went to Kyoto during the negotiations, giving the impression
that he was a key figure in fighting to reduce air pollution
destroy the ozone layer. What he omits is that his mission in going to
Kyoto was to scuttle the Accords, to block them from moving forward.
The Clinton-Gore years were anything but environment-friendly. Under
Clinton-Gore, more old growth forests were cut down than under any
recent U.S. administration. "Wise Use" committees -- set up by the
industry -- were permitted to clearcut whole mountain ranges, while
Clinton-Gore helped to "greenwash" their activities for public
Under Clinton-Gore, the biotech industry was given carte blanche to
the US government's regulations (paltry as they are) on genetic
of agriculture, and to move full speed ahead with implementing the
patenting of genetic sequences with nary a qualm passing Gore's lips.
You'd think watching this film that Gore is just some concerned
who never had access to power or held hundreds of thousands of
stock in Occidental Petroleum (driving the U'wa off their lands in
Colombia), let alone was the Number Two man actually running the U.S.
"Gore, like Clinton who quipped that 'the invisible hand has a green
thumb,' extolled a free-market attitude toward environmental issues,"
writes Frank, who goes on to quote Jeffrey St. Clair: "Since the
Gore has argued with increasing stridency that the bracing forces of
capitalism are potent curatives for the ecological entropy now
on the global environment. He is a passionate disciple of the gospel of
efficiency, suffused with an inchoate technophilia."(2)
Before Kyoto, before the Clinton-Gore massive depleted uranium
Yugoslavia and Iraq, before their missile "deconstruction" of the only
existing pharmaceutical production facility in northern Africa in the
(which exacerbated the very serious problems there, as we're seeing in
Darfur today), there was NAFTA, the North American Free Trade
The task of Clinton-Gore was to push through this legislation which not
even strong Republican administrations under Reagan or Bush Sr. had
able to do. Since its inception, NAFTA has undermined U.S.
laws, chased production facilities out of the U.S. and across the
vastly increased pollution from Maquilladoras (enterprise zones)
U.S./Mexico border and helped to undermine the indigenous sustainable
agrarian-based communities in southern Mexico -- as predicted by
in both countries, leading to the Zapatista uprising from those
on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA went into effect.
Clinton-Gore also approved the destructive deal with the sugar barons
South Florida arranged by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, which
the Everglades. (In fact, Clinton was on the phone with Alfonso Fanjul,
Jr., the chief of the sugar barons, while Monica Lewinsky was busy
her thing in her famous blue dress under Clinton's desk.)
Early in Clinton-Gore's first administration, they pledged they would
the plunder of the Northwest forests, writes former Village Voice
James Ridgeway. "They then double-crossed their environmental backers.
Under Bush Sr., the courts had enjoined logging in the Northwest
of the spotted owl. Clinton-Gore persuaded environmentalists to join
in axing the injunction. The Clinton administration went before a
Reagan-appointed judge who had a record as a stalwart
with the eco toadies in tow, got him to remove the injunction, and
the moratorium on existing timber sales."(3) Then Gore and Clinton
"capitulated to the demands of Western Democrats and yanked from its
initial budget proposals a call to reform grazing, mining, and timber
practices on federal lands. When Clinton convened a timber summit in
Portland, Oregon, in April 1994, the conference was, as one might
dominated by logging interests. Predictably, the summit gave way to a
to restart clear-cutting in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest
for the first time in three years, giving the timber industry its get
Gore and Clinton sent to Congress the infamous Salvage Rider, known to
radical environmentalists as the "Logging without Laws" bill,
most gruesome legislation ever enacted under the pretext of preserving
ecosystem health." Like Bush's "Healthy Forests" plan, the Clinton-
"was chock full of deception and special interest pandering. 'When [the
Salvage Rider] bill was given to me, I was told that the timber
was circulating this language among the Northwest Congressional
and others to try to get it attached as a rider to the fiscal year
Spending Bill,' environmental lawyer Kevin Kirchner says. 'There is no
question that representatives of the timber industry had a role in
promoting this rider. That is no secret.'"(5) What the Salvage Rider
was to "temporarily exempt ... salvage timber sales on federal forest
from environmental and wildlife laws, administrative appeals, and
review," according to the Wilderness Society -- long enough for
multinational lumber and paper corporations to clear-cut all but a
of the U.S.'s remaining old growth forests.
"Thousands of acres of healthy forestland across the West were
Washington's Colville National Forest saw the clear cutting of over
acres. Thousands more in Montana's Yak River Basin, hundreds of acres
pristine forest land in Idaho, while the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl
habitat in Arizona fell victim to corporate interests. Old growth
Washington's majestic Olympic Peninsula -- home to wild Steelhead,
endangered Sockeye salmon, and threatened Marbled Murrieta -- were
with unremitting provocation by the US Forest Service."(6)
The assault on nature continued with Gore's blessing.
Around the same time, Clinton-Gore appointee Carol Browner, head of the
EPA, was quoted in the NY Times as having said that the administration
would be "relaxing" the Delaney Clause (named after its author,
James Delaney, D-NY). Congress had inserted this clause into section
the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1958. It prohibited FDA
of any food additive found to cause cancer in humans or animals. Alone
among all food-related directives, this legislation put the onus on the
manufacturers to demonstrate that their products were safe before
allowed to become commercially available. (7) A federal appeals court
July 1992 expanded the jurisdiction of the Delaney Clause, ruling
was applicable to cancer-causing pesticides in processed food. Browner
retracted her comment, claiming she'd never said it, but the proof
the pudding. The ban on cancer-causing additives (the "Precautionary
Principle") that had held through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson,
Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations was finally
by the Republicans but by the Clinton-Gore administration. Instead of
expanding the Delaney clause to protect produce and other unprocessed
foods, the new Food Quality Protection Act legislation permitted "safe"
amounts of carcinogenic chemicals (as designated by the Environmental
Protection Agency) to be added to all food. (According to Peter
editor of Rachel's Weekly, "no one knows how 'safe amounts' of
can be established, especially when several carcinogens and other
are added simultaneously to the food of tens of millions of people.)
Nevertheless, the Clinton-Gore administration spun this as "progress."
The Clinton administration, with guidance from Gore's office, also cut
numerous deals over the pesticide Methyl Bromide despite its reported
effects of contributing to Ozone depletion and its devastating health
consequences on farm workers picking strawberries.
Much is being made these days about the need to save the Arctic
Refuge. But Clinton-Gore opened the National Petroleum Reserve " 24
untouched acres adjacent to the refuge, home to a large caribou herd
numerous arctic species " to oil drilling. The chief beneficiaary of
was Arco, a major ($1.4 million) contributor to the Democratic Party.
the same time, writes James Ridgeway, "Clinton dropped the ban on
Alaskan oil abroad. This also benefits Arco, which is opening
China. So although the oil companies won the right to exploit Alaskan
on grounds that to do so would benefit national development, Clinton-
unilaterally changed the agreement so that it benefits China's
Not once in the entire film does Gore criticize this awful
record or raise the critical questions we need to answer if we are to
effectively reverse global warming: Is it really the case that the vast
destruction of our environment that went on under his watch and,
today, is simply a result of poor consumer choices and ineffective
government policies? Is the global environmental devastation we are
today rectifiable with some simple tuning-up, as Gore proposes?
Neither he -- as point man for the Clinton administration on
issues -- nor Clinton-Gore's Energy Secretary Bill Richardson (with
ties to Occidental Petroleum), nor the Democratic Party in general
anything more than putting a tiny Band-Aid on the earth's gaping
which they themselves helped to gash open.
Clearly, the vast destruction of the global ecology is a consequence
just of poor governmental policies but of the capitalist system's
fundamental drive towards Growth and what passes for Development --
Die. Environmental activists won't find in Gore the kind of systemic
analysis that is needed to stop global warming. Instead, we need to
elsewhere for that sort of deep systemic critique.
1. Joshua Frank, Counterpunch, May 31, 2006, Frank is the author of
Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and edits
2. Jeffrey St. Clair, Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me:
Politics of Nature, Common Courage Press, 2004.
3. James Ridgeway, "Eco Spaniel Kennedy: Nipping at Nader's Heels,"
Voice, Aug. 16-22, 2000.
4,5,6 Joshua Frank.
7. The battle over the Delaney Clause has been ably documented by
Weekly, at http://www.rachel.org
8. Ridgeway, op cit.
[Mitchel Cohen is co-editor of "G", the newspaper of the NY State
can be reached at: email@example.com]