Anti-pollution efforts ordered at beaches

President publicizes his water quality moves, hits GOP on environment


YULEE, Fla. -- President Clinton has ordered government agencies to take new actions to improve the quality of federally managed beaches, rivers and other waterways, and he challenged the states to follow suit.

In his weekly radio address, delivered yesterday from a secluded wildlife preserve, the vacationing president also criticized Republicans in Congress for "rolling back" environmental protections through "sneak attacks."

Clinton announced that he is directing the National Park Service to improve water quality by further identifying pollution sources at federally managed beaches, including the coastlines along Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif.; Cape Cod, Mass.; and Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The president also ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to develop within a year tougher sewage treatment standards to prevent and reduce sewage spills, which he said are the major cause of beach closures. An EPA survey of 1,062 beaches last year reported 350 pollution-related closures or warnings to beach-goers.

And he instructed all federal agencies to adopt "a comprehensive strategy to better safeguard rivers and other bodies of water on federal lands."

The president's executive orders, which do not require congressional approval, served to underscore his ability to act -- even while on holiday -- at a time when the GOP-controlled Congress is in disarray over budget, defense and campaign finance measures. The imbroglio forced Republican leaders to adjourn prematurely last week for a prolonged Memorial Day recess.

Clinton criticized the Republicans' use of legislative procedure to attach anti-environmental "riders," narrowly targeted provisions, to spending bills. The provisions would "impose drastic cuts in environmental protection and public health, he said, delaying cleanups of toxic waste sites, weakening clean water standards and limiting access to national parks.

Environmentalists praised Clinton's announcement.

Tryg Sletteland, director of the Pacific Rivers Council in Portland, Ore., said a plan to reduce pollution in all lakes, rivers and streams on public lands was "long overdue."

Pub Date: 5/30/99

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