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Renewing Our Commitment to the Environment

By John F. Kerry

When it comes to our environment, George Bush and Dick Cheney have broken the trust of all Americans, but especially young Americans. They’ve thrown a party for their friends the special interests and left your generation to clean up the mess and stuck you with the bill.

Every day George Bush is in office is another setback to the cause of environmental protection. President Bush broke a campaign promise to reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. He’s taking environmental cops off the beat and letting power plants hundreds of miles away pollute New England’s air. He’s further isolated us from our neighbors by rejecting the Kyoto Treaty outright, instead of working with other nations to try to improve it. He thinks you should pay to clean up after corporate polluters. He’s stood in the way of our efforts to make cleaner, fuel-efficient cars. And if he would put even half the effort into trying to bring back jobs that he’s put into trying to drill his way through our most pristine national resources, we’d be in business.

The difference between us and George Bush is one of vision. Where we see an unspoiled wilderness or a scenic coast, George Bush sees an oil field. Where we see a beautiful mountaintop, George Bush sees a strip mine. Where we see an intact old growth forest, George Bush sees toothpicks. And where we see an opportunity to join the global community to fight global warming, George Bush sees a chance to curry favor with his buddies in the oil business.

Our commitment to the environment is a compact with your generation and the generations to come, and unlike too many politicians, my own commitment to this cause doesn’t ebb and flow with the dawn of each new election year. From the time my mother started a local recycling program long before it was cool, to the fight I led in the Senate to block the GOP from drilling in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, I have been fighting to protect our environment for over 30 years.

If I am your president, it’ll mean the end of secret meetings for energy industry special interests. I’ll have a simple message for the lobbyists and polluters that call the Bush White House home: Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Within the first six months of my taking office, we won’t just fix what they did wrong, we’ll do even better. We’ll reward those who innovate, and charge those who pollute. We’ll give America’s most powerful companies green lights and greenbacks to pull advanced technology out of the lab and off the shelf and put the American people back to work.

We will invest in the technologies of tomorrow—instead of vast subsidies for dirty industries and obsolete technologies, we’ll invest in a cleaner tomorrow.

We will return America to its rightful role as a leader in the global battle against climate change, poverty and the spread of disease.

If we care about the national security of America, we can settle for nothing less than energy security for America. The threats that America faces today don’t just come from gun barrels, they come from oil barrels—and we need to disarm that danger. I have a plan to end America’s reliance on Middle East oil within the next decade.

As president, I will put environmental justice at center stage. For too long, poor and minority communities have been overlooked when it came to the environment. And for too long, polluters thought they could get away with breaking the law as long as it was in someone else’s back yard. Those days need to end. Under a Kerry Administration, no community will have their environment overlooked.

America faces a choice: do we wish to be remembered as the last generation of the foolish—those who believed that the earth could be stripped without conscience—or as the first generation of the wise?

I ask you to lead the way to a brighter future. Enlist in the cause of protecting the environment. Join my campaign for a clean, green America. Your courage to do what’s right can change the world and save it for the young people of tomorrow. I ask for your support in that commitment and that cause.

United States Senator John F. Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is a candidate for president. He will be appearing at “Conversation with the Candidates” in Kirkland House at 4:30 p.m. and on “Hardball” at the Institute of Politics at 6 p.m. this evening.

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