Clinton Ocean Protection Plan

By Cynthia Kirk

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

President Clinton is taking steps to strengthen the protection of oceans, beaches and coastal areas of the United States. The plan would help protect sea life threatened by pollution, development and other human activities.

President Clinton announced the new plan last month. It is similar to protections established in some of the nation's forest areas.

Mr. Clinton directed federal agencies to work together to set up a system of protected ocean areas. He called on the departments of the Interior and Commerce to examine existing protections and to identify areas where more protections may be needed. Mr. Clinton also directed the Environmental Protection Agency to approve stronger water pollution rules. He urged the EPA to propose limits on activities that cause pollution.

Mr. Clinton also ordered the Interior and Commerce Departments to develop a plan to protect coral reefs near the Hawaiian islands. The reefs are threatened by pollution, too much fishing and rising ocean temperatures.

The Hawaiian reefs have seventy-percent of the coral in American waters. They are home to endangered sea turtles, monk seals and other kinds of sea life found nowhere else on earth.

Millions of people live near America's coastal areas. But environmentalists say many beaches are threatened by development, pollution and drilling for oil and gas.

For example, thousands of beaches are closed every year because heavy rains cause waste from drainage systems to overflow into the ocean. Polluted ocean waters can cause many health problems and can threaten sea life.

The fishing industry and other businesses that depend on the ocean oppose the president's plan. But Mr. Clinton rejects the idea that environmental policies are anti-business. He says the economy will grow faster by improving the environment.

Republicans in Congress say Mr. Clinton's environmental proposals are unnecessary and threaten business interests. They proposed reducing the money for his environmental programs.

Mr. Clinton's ocean protection plan does not require approval by Congress. However, it could be canceled by a future president.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English