A Kansas University senior who skipped school this semester to work on the staff of U.S. Sen. Al Gore was headed to Washington, D.C., this weekend to work on the vice president-elect's environmental administrative staff.
Pam McElwee, who worked as an intern for the senator from Tennessee in 1991, was asked to return to work on Gore's Senate staff in August. With Gore and running mate Gov. Bill Clinton victorious in Tuesday's election, McElwee says she may land a permanent job in Washington.
McElwee, who has worked for Gore's environmental adviser, said she will be part of the transition team that will form environmental policies under the new administration.
A KU environmental studies and political science major, McElwee said many Bush administration environmental policies will be changed under Clinton, including the role of the Council on Competitiveness, led by Vice President Dan Quayle.
The council, which meets in secret and is not accountable to Congress, has been criticized by environmentalists for allowing businesses to sidestep EPA and other federal environmental regulations.
The council could be eliminated or completely restructured under Clinton and Gore, she said.
"He's made some very strong statements about the council," McElwee said of Gore. "I don't know if it will be restructured or if they'll get rid of it. I know that there will be big changes in the council, and one of them is to make it public and open it to public comment."
Statements made by Bush and Quayle calling Gore an "environmental extremist" are not true, McElwee said.
"I THINK it's the pot calling the kettle black," she said. "You talk about extremists anytime there's a dispute between industry and the environment they (Bush and Quayle) always take the side of industry. They're absolutely unwilling to look at compromise, and that's not good, not even for industry.
"I think it's going to be a real change in ideology."
The new administration probably will sign the Earth Summit treaty on the environment that was signed by dozens of other nations earlier this year in Brazil, McElwee said. The Bush administration would not sign the agreement, saying it was too tough on business.
Clinton and Gore, she said, would seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United States to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
McElwee also said she had seen a list of names that will be considered by Clinton to head the Environmental Protection Agency, but she declined to say who they are.
Nominated for the second year in a row as a Rhodes scholar, McElwee was in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday during Clinton's victory celebration.
"I can't even put a word to it," she said of the atmosphere. "It was more than exciting; there was a real feeling of change."
She said Gore's Senate seat may be filled by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter will name Gore's Senate replacement.