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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

2001 Envi Awards, Somerset, Kentucky

05/12/2001
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
2001 Envi Awards
Somerset, Kentucky

May 12, 2001



Thank you, Congressman (Hal) Rogers for that introduction. We have had a very busy and very productive two days here in Kentucky. I feel a little bit like Monarchos must have felt after that great race last Saturday at Churchill Downs – it’s been quite a turn around the track.

I think one of the most important things someone in Washington can do is to get out of Washington whenever possible. It’s good to see what’s going on in the rest of America. And it’s very easy, if you’re not careful, to get caught up in the Beltway mentality that holds that all wisdom resides in Washington, D.C.

So since becoming EPA administrator, I have spent quite a bit of time traveling around our great country. Let me tell you what I’ve found.

Throughout America, state and local governments, forward-thinking businesses, energetic environmental groups, and spirited individuals are in the forefront of some of the most creative, innovative, and effective efforts to improve the condition of the environment in their communities. People are taking ownership of the environmental challenges they see and are working to meet those challenges.

Of course, not everyone is doing the job you’re doing here in Kentucky. From the Cumberland Trash Gate, to the students at Williamsburg and Southwestern high schools, to the many volunteers in Harlan and Perry counties, you are unusually committed to making a difference – a real, positive, difference – for the environment.

You are a model for the rest of the nation – and for those of us who work in the nation’s Capital. As the head of the EPA, I find your commitment and dedication both encouraging and inspiring.

As I consider the challenges I face in my job, I believe that efforts such as yours are the key to the next generation of environmental protection. The common thread running through all these efforts is partnership – working together. By working together in a common cause we can accomplish so much – that’s why I am committed to building the new environmental partnerships I believe America needs.

By building partnerships between the federal government and all those who are concerned about environmental protection, we can achieve the goal I know we all share – leaving America’s air cleaner, her water purer, and her land better protected than we found it.

That is a goal to which this Administration is firmly committed. Although it’s only been several months since President Bush took office, we have already started to build a strong record of environmental protection. I would like to take just a few moments to share with you some of the highlights.

The President is making the air cleaner by requiring diesel buses and trucks to cleanup their emissions and use cleaner burning fuel. This will literally save lives – more than 8,300 a year. It will also help hundreds of thousands of kids with asthma breathe easier.

The President is protecting America’s families from exposure to lead by significantly increasing the reporting requirements of companies that use lead in their business. This should result in decreases in the use of lead in various industrial applications, further safeguarding our children from the dangerous effects of lead poisoning.

The President is adding new levels of protection to America’s precious wetlands by more closely regulating construction activities in wetland areas. This will ensure that America preserves it wetlands, areas that are so important to a healthy environment.

The President’s budget devotes record levels of resources to protecting our environment. He has, for example, provided more money than ever before for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and more than ever before for grants to states and tribes to support their environmental programs. To make up for years of neglect, the President’s budget devotes $4.9 billion over the next five years for America’s majestic national parks.

These are just the first steps in what I know will be a strong record of environmental accomplishment by President Bush. Just recently I heard the President say that for people who love the land – and he certainly does – every day is Earth Day. I believe that’s a feeling shared all across this great country of ours.

As I said earlier, I have been enormously encouraged by the deep commitment the American people have to our environment and the way in which they take a sense of personal responsibility for protecting it. I am especially impressed by what you are doing here in Kentucky.

I have every confidence that with the leadership of such fine public servants as Hal Rogers and Jim Bickford, we will be able to go forward together from here – as partners – to build on the success you have achieved. And as partners, we will work hard together to make your commonwealth’s air cleaner, water purer, and land better protected in the future than it is today.

Thank you.