Why I Won’t Vote for Clinton

David Brower is a longtime environmentalist and a board member of the Sierra Club

Over the past three years, I have become increasingly distressed by President Clinton’s environmental record. While I would certainly expect no better from Bob Dole, I think it is time to examine where we are going as a movement and as a civilization.

My personal assessment has led me to support Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. Briefly, let me recount the reasons for my disaffection with the president.

His administration is responsible for:

* The passage of the “salvage logging” rider that is causing the destruction of ancient public forests and critical watersheds.


* The signing of the Panama Declaration, which undermines protection for marine mammals including dolphins and whales.

* The continuation of the use of methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide known to destroy the Earth’s ozone layer.

* The weakening, if not the gutting, of the Endangered Species Act through administrative changes in its rules and regulations.

* The passage of NAFTA and GATT, international trade agreements that represent the biggest sellout of American workers in U.S. history and effectively remove environmental protections passed by Congress because any legislation deemed to “restrain free trade” can be declared illegal by international tribunals dominated by large-scale corporate interests.

* The lowering of grazing fees on public land, despite promises by candidate Clinton to raise those fees. As a result, Clinton is subsidizing the cattle industry while overtaxing people and land.

* Continuing to subsidize the sugar industry in Florida, which is poisoning the Everglades and diverting large amounts of water needed by wildlife.

* Opening wildlife refuges to hunting and fishing by presidential decrees.

* Weakening the Safe Drinking Water Act by allowing increased levels of lead and arsenic in drinking water supplies.

* Reversing the ban on the production and importation of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which may cause more than 40,000 fatalities in the Great Lakes region alone.

* Increasing our dependence on Middle East oil by breaking the promise to not allow the export of Alaskan oil.

President Clinton has done more to harm the environment and to weaken environmental regulations in three years than Presidents Bush and Reagan did in 12 years.

After an interim of reading lips, we have seen the regimes of environmental destruction move from the Great Communicator to the Great Capitulator. Even so, Clinton has tried to “greenwash’ his record, claiming to be on the side of the environment.

Having fought for the environment for more than 50 years, I see planet Earth not only as our father and mother but also as our child, demanding our care and nurture. Neither of the major parties comprehends the seriousness of this responsibility.

In response, I am supporting a real alternative in 1996. I have known Ralph Nader for nearly 30 years, and in that time, he has never let me or the environment down. He is properly described as an idealistic if modest Spartan.

Nader understands that until we rein in the far-flung empires of multinational corporations and subject them to international sustainable environmental standards, the planet will continue to suffer.