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Candidate Al Gore Profits From Pollution?

Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, bills himself as a champion for the environment making impassioned pleas for action in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance. But investigators are now accusing him of profiting from pollution. John Howard reports.

In 1992, Al Gore wrote the book, Earth in the Balance, where he made impassioned pleas to the peoples' of the world for action against pollution threats imperiling the planet.

He cautioned that "lakes and rivers sustain us; they flow through the veins of the earth and into our own. But we must take care to let them flow back out as pure as they came, but not poison and waste them without thought for the future."

But Gore appears to have fallen far short of his own ideals in his own backyard.

He is now being accused of allowing a zinc mining company operating on his farm in Tennessee to pollute a river.

Environmental authorities have warned the company that waste is endangering wildlife and have issued a "notice of violation" to Pasminco Zinc, a company that has been paying Gore for the privilege of extracting metal from beneath his farm.

Gore has already collected $500,000 in royalties from the mining.

It is not only his dealing with Pasminco Zinc that are casting doubt over Gore's committment to the environment.

He had earlier been accused of benefiting from the plunder of virgin South American rainforest and turning a blind to the multi-billion-dollar scheme of Occidental Petroleum to which he has ties.

The U'wa Indians threatened to commit mass suicide when trying to protect their ancestral lands. Supporters of the Indians link Gore's failure to intervene in the dispute with the fact that his family stands to gain financially from any increase in Occidental's shares. A Gore family trust holds $500,000 worth of stock.

Gore has long been plagued by charges of hypocrisy. In 1996 he invoked his sister's death from lung cancer as a way of attacking the tobacco industry. Then it was revealed that the family farm prospered from growing tobacco.

He has also repeatedly tried to attach his name to campaign finance reform efforts while under investigation for alleged fundraising offences in the 1996 presidential campaign - allegations which he denies.

Gore was also riduclued recently when asked what happened to emails that had gone missing from his White House office. He said "I'm not an expert on computers" which surprised investigators because he had once claimed to have played a vital role in inventing the Internet.

Just last week he proposed $2,000 tax credits for Americans who implement his energy efficient environmentally friendly homes blueprint. This seems at odds with grim conditions for the family renting a house he owns 150 metres from his farm.

The tenant, her disabled husband and their eight children have complained more than 30 times to Gore's property managers about over-flowing toilets, peeling plaster and cracked floors. They were eventually served an eviction order.

When investigators and a television station went to the house, Gore pleaded ignorance, reversed the order and promised repairs.

Last week the family were still at odds with Gore with critics now calling him a "slumlord"

The tenant, Tracey Mayberry, said "I don't think I trust Al Gore anymore."

The hypocrisy of Gore is showing up in dwindling support for him in the polls.

In a related story, the American Green Party has selected long-term consumer advocate, Ralph Nadar as its presidential candidate. But there is also outrage over the Green Party policy not to push for gun control. Some delegates thought that it would be impossible to get votes in some states if they pushed for the gun control measures - they won the day.

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