October 23, 2002   

CONTACT: Melissa Blakley, 
(314)560-3055, (314) 646-7383

Talent's Answers on Environment Questioned

Sierra Club offers debate questions for the candidates

St. Louis: Sierra Club members in Missouri expressed concern that Jim Talent's comments on the environment during Monday’s debate did not accurately reflect his anti-environmental record in the House of Representatives.

“On Monday night Jim Talent said, ‘How we treat our planet is a reflection on the kind of people we are.’ We couldn’t agree more, and that is why we are urging Missourians to get all the facts about Jim Talent and Senator Jean Carnahan's environmental records before voting on November 5th,” said Melissa Blakley, Environmental Voter Education Campaign organizer.

During the debate, Jim Talent claimed he did not vote against clean air or for higher arsenic standards in drinking water and balanced environmental concerns with economic concerns while in the House of Representatives. However, Talent voted to delay tougher, more protective smog standards (Collins amendment to H.R. 4635, Vote #305 6/21/00); for anti-environmental riders that would delay the cleanup of mercury from power plants – mercury that ends up in Missouri rivers and streams (Amendment to H.R. 4194, Vote #334, 7/23/98); to allow mining companies to dump their waste on even more public lands thereby contaminating water supplies (H.R. 2466, 10/21/99); and for two anti-clean water amendments, which prohibit the EPA from enforcing drinking water standards for arsenic (Hinchey amendment to H.R. 4635, Vote #304, 6/21/00).

Senator Carnahan supports protecting clean air and clean water. She voted to strengthen enforcement of the laws that protect our air and water (Corzine Amendment to H. Con. Res. 83, 4/5/01), to limit federal subsidies to large industrial animal feeding operations, protecting our water from animal waste runoff (Amendment to S. 1731, Vote #15, 2/6/02), and opposes lowering the standards for arsenic in our water (Candidate Questionnaire, www.emilyslist.org/, 6/14/01). She also supports enforcing the Clean Air Act, which mandates that polluting smokestack industries, such as power plants, improve outdated pollution controls (Letter to EPA Administrator Whitman, 8/1/02).

During the debate, Jim Talent also expressed his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that doing so would create jobs in Missouri. But his numbers are from a flawed study done a decade ago. Most of the findings of the 1990 study (commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute) have been widely refuted by the Congressional Research Service and other economists.

The study used unrealistic assumptions: that the price of oil would be over $48 per barrel [2000 dollars] and that world oil prices would then drop by nearly 5 percent, thus spurring economic activity nationwide. Re-analysis of the economic estimate based on more realistic assumptions showed that industry's estimate was exaggerated 10-fold (Tellus Institute 1993). Ten times more jobs nation-wide would result from energy efficiency than from drilling in the refuge. Senator Carnahan voted to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Murkowski amendment to S. 517, Vote #71,4/18/02).

In an effort to clarify the facts about the candidates' environmental record, the Sierra Club urges the candidates to answer the following questions at the debate to be held on Thursday:

“Mr. Talent, you mentioned during the first debate that when we have prosperity we can deal with environmental concerns. If what you suggest is true, and we must wait to deal with issues like clean air, clean water and toxic waste clean up until we experience prosperity, why did you vote to exempt businesses from liability for toxic waste cleanup, to delay tougher, more protective smog standards, and for two anti-clean water riders, which prohibit the EPA from enforcing drinking water standards for arsenic, during one of the strongest and most prosperous economic periods this country has ever experienced?” (H.R. 5175, Vote #494, 9/26/00) (Collins amendment to H.R. 4635, Vote #305 6/21/00) (Hinchey amendment to H.R. 4635, Vote #304, 6/21/00)
"Mrs. Carnahan, do you agree with Mr. Talent's assertion that prosperity is required before we can clean up our air, our water or hold corporations accountable for toxic waste cleanup? How would you promote environmental protection during an economic downturn?"
The Ozark chapter of Sierra Club is urging all Missourians to get the facts about the candidates' environmental records before they vote on November 5th. More information can be found at www.sierraclub.org/voter_education .