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The President's Message on Environmental Quality

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives

and the President of the Senate:

During the past 4 years, the world has witnessed major changes in the political profile of nations. The Earth Summit, sponsored by the United Nations in Brazil in June 1992, signaled the next era in world history—one characterized by the recognition that environmental protection, economic development, and public participation in decision-making are interrelated and crucial to our future quality of life.

In these last four years, the United States charted an ambitious agenda to remain in the vanguard of environmental protection by harnessing the energy of capitalism in service of the environment. Those who said that we posed a false choice between a strong economy and a healthy environment disregarded our words and our deeds. We worked to achieve both while sacrificing neither—as must all nations in the coming century.

Economic development and environmental protection go hand in hand. Economic growth supplies the financial and technological resources necessary for environmental enhancement; while its opposite, the struggle for bare survival, places strains on natural protection. We have seen this phenomenon in America as our economy grew in the 1980s and waters and skies became cleaner, just as we have seen it in the degraded forests and rivers of Eastern Europe and in the faces of Africa's starving children. The challenge for leaders in all parts of the world is to ensure both economic growth and environmental progress at the same time.

A Strategy That Produced Results

The pioneer American conservationist, Gifford Pinchot, once remarked, “There are just two things on this material earth—people and natural resources.” Human beings are not intruders in nature but an essential species with a responsibility to sustain other species.

The Bush administration combined an understanding of human nature with an idealism about Mother Nature in developing a National Strategy for Environmental Quality, based on six goals:

• Harnessing the power of the marketplace;
• Managing natural resources as responsible stewards;
• Promoting creative partnerships;

• Developing cooperative international solutions;
• Preventing pollution before it starts;
• Enforcing environmental laws firmly and fairly.

And the strategy worked. In just four years, consider what has been accomplished:

Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: We broke 10 years of congressional gridlock to enact the world's most protective and cost-effective clean air legislation. At its heart is an innovative, market-based, emission-allowance trading system. During the past 2 years, we proposed and finalized rules that promise to achieve 85 percent of the anticipated pollution reductions.

Budgets: By shifting Federal funds from other programs to environmental programs, we were able to increase the operating budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by more than 50 percent and increase funding for clean energy research and development by 66 percent.

Pollution Prevention: Market-driven pollution prevention efforts by the private sector are reshaping American industries, making us leaner and more efficient. For example, under just one Administration initiative, the EPA 33/50 program, more than 900 companies have reduced releases and transfers of toxic chemicals by 347 million pounds—25 percent below the 1988 baseline, with enormous savings in operating costs.

Enforcement: We broke new ground and old records, filing more cases, collecting more penalties, and putting more polluters behind bars than every previous administration in history combined.

Public Lands: We helped make America's great outdoors even greater by investing over a billion dollars to acquire wetlands, improve campgrounds, and add half a million acres to our national parks and 1,200 miles to our Wild and Scenic River System. We created 57 new wildlife refuges—more than any administration in history. We adopted a philosophy of ecosystem management and ended clearcutting as a standard practice on Federal land. The America the Beautiful initiative got off to a good start with the planting of more than 225 million new trees in rural and urban areas across the nation.

Coasts and Oceans: To ensure that America's seas always will shine, we ended the ocean dumping of sewage sludge. We proposed and won passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a vigorous anti-pollution measure. To protect our ecologically sensitive coastal areas, we imposed a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas leasing and added six national marine sanctuaries, including the Monterey Bay sanctuary off California—which is second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef as the largest marine protected area in the world.

Energy: We launched a new generation of clean energy technologies, not only by increasing funding for research and development but also by increasing incentives for the application of new technologies. We proposed and won passage of comprehensive national energy legislation with the National Energy Policy Act of 1992, an act that will guide the United States into the next century.

Federal Leadership: We tripled funding for Federal facility cleanups, especially at nuclear weapons manufacturing sites, and secured more than 100 enforceable cleanup agreements at Federal facilities. Executive orders spurred the Federal Gov

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