Conservation Leaders Praise President Clinton's Veto of Budget Reconciliation

(12/06/1995) - Leaders of a coalition of national environmental and health organizations today lauded President Clinton for his veto of the budget reconciliation bill. In vetoing the bill, the President said, "This budget would give oil companies the right to drill in the last unspoiled Arctic wilderness in Alaska. And it is loaded with special interest provisions that squander our natural resources."

Speaking on behalf of their varied organizations, the conservation leaders named some of the bill's anti- environmental giveaways to special interests and applauded the veto of the legislation:

John H. Adams, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: "This legislation is more exploitation than reconciliation. It gives away billions of dollars in valuable natural resources to oil companies, mining conglomerates, and other special interests. The President is saying that American taxpayers do not owe special favors to special interests." Under the bill, he noted, multinational mining companies can continue to buy billions of dollars of minerals from America's public lands at a fraction of their value. Other "egregious giveaways" go to agribusiness and national park concessioners. (Diane Dulken, 202-783-7800)

Bruce Hamilton, National Conservation Director, Sierra Club: By vetoing the Budget Reconciliation Bill, H.R. 2491, President Clinton has demonstrated true environmental leadership, and has taken a critical step to protect America's heritage of parks, forests, wilderness, and wildlife. . . . We remind the American public that this budget standoff is not about politics, it is about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the wilderness and wildlife that are part of our natural heritage. . . There are other attacks on environmental values included in appropriations bills yet to reach his desk. Unless these bills are stripped of their anti-environmental provisions, and funding for critical public health and environmental protection programs is restored, President Clinton should veto them again and again." (Roni Lieberman, 202-547-1141)

Rodger Schlickeisen, President, Defenders of Wildlife: "This veto should remind us all that it's our wildlife, our public lands, our health, and our environment that are at stake in the budget battles. By a stroke of the pen, President Clinton has singlehandedly saved one of America's greatest wildlife sanctuaries, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The reconciliation bill would have permitted oil and gas drilling in the refuge, which includes critical denning habitat for polar bears, protects the sole calving ground of the 152,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd, and provides habitat for nearly 200 other species." (Joan Moody, 202-682-9400 x220)

Jon Roush, President, The Wilderness Society: "It's time for the congressional leadership to stop indulging the extremists. They should yank the Arctic refuge from the reconciliation bill and get on with the task at hand: balancing the budget. Seventy percent of Americans don't want the oil industry poking holes in this unique sanctuary. The industry already has the run of 95 percent of Alaska's North Slope. That should be enough." (Ben Beach, 202-429-2655)

Evan Hirsche, Arctic Campaign Director, National Audubon Society: "We are very grateful that President Clinton vetoed the budget reconciliation. Of all the provisions in this budget, the most offensive to the American public is one advancing the Alaska delegation's blatantly greedy grab for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If the Arctic drilling provision buried in the budget reconciliation was signed into law, one of North America's premiere, pristine wilderness areas would be pilloried and desecrated for nominal, short-term budgetary gain." (Susan DeVicco, 212-979-3026)



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270