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Gore, in Monterey, Attacks Bush Environmental Stance

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beginning a three-day campaign swing in the West, Democratic vice presidential nominee Al Gore Sunday sharply attacked President Bush’s environmental record, calling him “a phony environmental President” who would “ravage and exploit the environment.”

Addressing issues ranging from the Amazon rain forests to whales, the Tennessee senator also pledged that a Clinton-Gore Administration would “protect the entire coastline of California” from offshore oil drilling.

Gore called for a bold new vision in cleaning up the globe. “We must lead the world in protecting the environment,” he said. “If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

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Gore made his remarks during an hourlong beachfront “town hall” meeting at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with about 100 pre-selected area residents. Hundreds more lined the roadside to listen to Gore’s message on environmental protection, the subject of his book, “Earth in the Balance.”

At the sanctuary, the largest protected marine area in the nation, Gore spoke with fervor when asked about the destruction of rain forests, saying that 1 1/2 acres are being destroyed every second somewhere around the world. Such destruction, Gore added, is leading to a rate of extinction 1,000 times faster than at any other time in the last 65 million years.

At that rate, Gore said, more than half of all species will disappear in the next generation.

“If we have four more years of this song and dance they offer on the environment, and the phony choice they pose between the economy and the environment, then the momentum of this destruction will increase dramatically,” he said. “The world needs leadership on this issue, and the United States ought to be providing that leadership.”

Earlier in the day, Gore appeared on ABC-TV’s “This Week With David Brinkley” and reiterated his support for tougher automobile efficiency standards, saying that a 40 miles-per-gallon Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency target is not unreasonable “over a nine- or 10-year period.” The current standard is 27.5 miles-per-gallon.

Gore also disputed claims last week by both Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle that such a standard would cause widespread unemployment in the auto industry. Gore said the search for new technologies could generate “millions” of new jobs and result in a cleaner environment and a healthier citizenry.

“The best thing that can happen to our automobile industry is an economic recovery,” Gore added, quickly to what is perceived as the Bush-Quayle ticket’s most vulnerable issue.

Asked about a passage in his book--which has come under heavy GOP attack--in which he reflects on the eventual demise of the smog-emitting internal combustion engine, Gore replied:

“I used that as an example of the scale of changes which we ought to contemplate over the next quarter-century.”

He added: “I’m sure there were people in the aircraft industry who said: ‘Get rid of propellers? These jets will never work!’ And yet over a 25-year period, we saw a complete change in the technology.”


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