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Special Event

Sen. Clinton Delivers Opening Statement at Hearings for EPA Administrator Nominee

Aired January 17, 2001 - 10:39 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: And at the same time, Senator John Ashcroft's hearings are going on, Christie Todd Whitman is before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Speaking right now, the junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let's listen to her.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: ... her attention of the administrator of the EPA. That's why that this hearing is important to me because, as I have travelled New York from the Adirondacks to Lake Anawanda to the Hudson River to Long Island Sound in New York shoreline, I've certainly seen the extraordinary environmental treasures, but also the problems that have come over the decades that have not yet been addressed.

I, too, believe that a clean and healthy environment go along with a growing and expanding economy. And today, we enjoy the cleanest air, cleanest water, and strongest economy in a generation.

It is my hope that through new tax credits and other incentives, we can further reduce pollution and improve the environment, while continuing to grow the economy, particularly in areas like Upstate New York and other urban areas in New York and elsewhere, that have not yet realized the full benefits of economic growth.

I know that we can continue to improve the environment, and provide new opportunities for job creation and economic development, through an increase in Brown Fields Cleanup and Redevelopment.

EPA's Brown Fields initiative has already proved successful throughout the country and in many areas in New York state, including Buffalo, Rochester and Niagara Falls.

I believe that an effective and voluntary and incentive-based program needs to be backed by strong environmental and public health standards and by rigorous enforcement, where compliance with such standards is lacking.

These efforts need to be supported by adequate resources in the agency's budget. And I look forward to learning more about Governor Whitman's ideas of how best to enforce environmental standards. Perhaps even more important than the link between the environment and the economy is the link between the environment and public health. In the work that I have done on behalf of children's health, as many of you and including members of this committee have done, we know and we're becoming increasingly aware of the link between environmental degradation and harmful pollutants and diseases that children and adults suffer. I would particularly appoint to the extraordinary increase in asthma as one example of that.

In children, particularly, environmental damage can lead to long- term learning disabilities and other health problems.

So, this link between the health of our citizens and the health of our environment makes it all the more important to continue expediting the cleanup of toxic waste sites under the Superfund program for establishing the strongest standards for the quality of our air, and ensuring that communities, particularly communities of color, have the resources they need to adequately treat their water and clean up the toxic wastes that are in their environment.

Equally important are our efforts to provide the public with information about the food that we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breath, so that we all can make our own decisions about how best to protect ourselves and our families from potential environmental health risks.

And I would hope we would continue to work to make certain that the same protections are afforded to all communities, regardless of who lives in a community, the race or ethnicity or income level of those citizens.

In New York, as in New Jersey, the environment has been an area in which Republicans and Democrats have worked together. It is my great hope that we will make similar progress at the national level with the new administration by working in a bipartisan, even non- partisan, way.

I think that we can all recognize significant progress has been made in improving and protecting public health in the environment, but there is much more to be done.

In addition to the issues that I've mentioned, I certainly join my colleagues' comments about everything from the energy crisis to climate warming, and know that these are the challenges that will have to be tackled with Governor Whitman's leadership in this administration.

I look forward to discussing these issues and challenges with you this morning and in the weeks and months ahead.

MESERVE: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking there in the hearings for Christie Whitman. Whitman, the governor of the New Jersey, has been nominated to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A bit of controversy over her record as governor. She did make efforts to preserve one million acres of open farmland in New Jersey. But simultaneously, she reduced spending for state offices that prosecute environmental crimes.

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