Candidates square off on environment McMillen, Gilchrest praise Gore vision

October 21, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

Representatives Tom McMillen and Wayne Gilchrest squared off on environmental issues in a debate last night sponsored by the Severn River Association. The winner was Al Gore.

Although Mr. Gilchrest hasn't read Mr. Gore's book, "Earth in the Balance," and Mr. McMillen has it on his night stand but hasn't finished it, both praised the Democratic vice presidential candidate's vision on environmental issues.

When a member of the association pressed Mr. Gilchrest on which presidential candidate would do a better job on the environment, the Republican hesitated then said that while he didn't know Democrat Bill Clinton, he believed the views of Sen. Gore, D-Tenn., were closest to his own.

In a debate that saw the 1st Congressional District candidates disagreeing little on the issues, another highlight came when they were asked which presidential candidate they could work better with on environmental issues.

"I find it incredible that someone who supports the environment can support [Republicans] George Bush and Dan Quayle," said Mr. McMillen, a Democrat, adding the most important step he could take to protect the environment is to back the Clinton-Gore team.

"I know I'm a Republican but the environment is a non-partisan kind of thing," Mr. Gilchrest insisted.

Both he and Mr. McMillen, who are facing each other in a redrawn district, have won endorsements from environmental groups -- the former has the nod of the Sierra Club and the latter the National Wildlife Federation and the League of Conservation Voters.

Last night, the candidates stood by their records in Congress. Both supported efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, protect wetlands and promote clean air. Both agreed there should be a moratorium on incinerator construction, backed bottle bills and called for legislation to address the issue of solid waste.

Mr. McMillen said he is most proud of his successful efforts to create a wildlife refuge on 9,000 acres of land at Fort Meade.

Mr. Gilchrest said he put the environment above partisan politics and was one of 12 Republicans in the House who voted to remove funding from the Council of Competitiveness headed by Vice President Quayle.

Both candidates said that a clean environment does not have to mean lost jobs.

James R. Martin, president of the association, an Annapolis-based environmental group, said both candidates compiled average records on environmental issues.

Mr. Gilchrest and Mr. McMillen are to debate live from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 27 on WBFF-TV.

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