Contact Us

Newsroom

Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

WATERSHED '96-BALTIMORE, MD

06/12/1996
                         Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

                          Watershed '96
                         Baltimore, MD


                      Prepared for Delivery
                         June 12, 1996


I want to thank Katherine Baril for that introduction. It is a real pleasure to be able to join all of you here in Baltimore today,
as well as those who are participating by satellite. Before I begin, I have a message from Vice President Al Gore, who
unfortunately was not able to be with us today. The Vice President writes,


"I am pleased to have this opportunity to welcome everyone participating in Watershed '96. I regret that I cannot be with you
in person, but I do want to send my very best wishes for a successful and productive conference.


"Certainly, by participating in this important conference, you have made a commitment to addressing the most serious
environmental challenges facing this nation's watershed regions. I am confident that your close examination of our approach to
watershed management will be valuable to citizens and lawmakers around the country.


"You can be sure that the President and I will consider your findings carefully as we build upon our own efforts to find
reasonable, effective, and sustainable approaches to the protection and management of our natural resources. By working
together, we all can make a lasting difference for our planet.


"Again, please accept my warmest wishes for a successful conference. I look forward to working with you in the future.

"Sincerely, Al Gore."

Twenty-six years ago, the people of this country -- Democrats, Republicans, and independents -- joined together to say:
"We must stop the pollution. We must save our natural heritage."


And together, we made tremendous progress. Progress in cleaning up our air. Progress in cleaning up our land. And progress
in cleaning up our nation's waters. When President Clinton came to Washington, he called on environmental leaders, on
business leaders, on citizens across this country, to help continue that progress.


President Clinton has always believed that environmental protection and economic progress go hand in hand. We do not
have to choose between our health and our jobs. In fact, the two are inextricably linked.


Protecting our environment means protecting public health. It means protecting where we live and how we live. It means real
everyday benefits for American communities -- fresh air to breathe, land that is safe to live on, clean, safe water to drink and
fish and swim in.


Today, communities across country are benefiting from the President's leadership on the environment.

The Clinton Administration is making sure that states and communities have the resources they need to keep raw sewage out
of rivers and off beaches. For the first time ever, President Clinton has proposed a revolving loan fund to help communities
protect and upgrade their drinking water supplies. And, we are enforcing tough standards to keep toxic pollution out of our
waters.


With the President's leadership, we expanded the public's right to know about toxic chemicals in their communities. We have
nearly doubled the number of chemicals that industry must report to the public.


This week, EPA released to the public a National Listing of Fish Consumption Advisories -- showing that in too many
communities, contamination means that people are still advised not to eat the fish from their local river, their local lake.


This week, EPA is also releasing a comprehensive report that, for the first time, gives us a set of environmental measures -- a
baseline -- showing that we are making progress in improving water quality -- but we still face many challenges.


Across this country -- watershed by watershed -- communities are coming together to meet those challenges. At today's
conference, we are hearing the good news about what can happen when people come together to protect their watershed --
to protect their health, the places where they work and play and live -- industry, government, citizens joining together to find
the solutions that make sense for their watershed, their community.


There is no doubt in my mind that an informed, involved local community always does a better job of environmental
protection than some distant bureaucracy. You here at this conference are the advocates, the leaders, in protecting water
quality in communities across this country. And community by community, we are seeing results.


In the San Francisco Bay Delta, we ended 30 years of water wars, by recognizing that the competing demands for scarce
resources had to be solved not through continued confrontation but by building consensus. Farmers, families, and fishermen
-- all have a right to water. People joined together, and now all will have the water they need.


The Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative will restore the health and the economy of the Great Lakes, by removing toxic
chemicals from the lakes, protecting a drinking water supply that serves 23 million people, protecting wildlife, fish, and people
who eat fish, in accordance with the latest and soundest scientific findings. All because the people of the Great Lakes region
-- some of whom are with us today -- joined together, with the help of the federal government, to protect their health, their
environment, their economy.


The Clinton Administration's Everglades Restoration Plan aims to ensure that future development in South Florida will be
integrated with the preservation of natural areas. Through this plan, we can meet the needs of farmers, the needs of urban
areas, the needs of the natural system -- and we can save the heart of the Everglades -- the heart will once again pulse with
water.


All of this environmental progress has been achieved, by all of us working together, despite the fact that during the past two
years we have experienced the most severe Congressional assault on environmental protection in decades.


In the battle over the budget, in the battle over the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, President Clinton stood
firm for public health and environmental protection. As a result of the President's leadership, vital protections are in place and
will remain in place.


But the price of a clean, safe environment is that we must always be vigilant. The responsibility will always be ours to protect
our health, our natural resources, our children's future. The job is not done.


One American in three still lives in an area where the air is too polluted to meet federal health standards.

One American in four still lives near a toxic waste dump.

Forty percent of rivers, lakes, and streams surveyed by the states are still not suitable for fishing or swimming.

President Clinton has called on all Americans to come together, to restore the bipartisan commitment to the environment that
served this nation so well for the past generation.


I ask you to take what you learn at this conference back to your communities. Use it to strengthen your efforts as advocates
and as leaders, to achieve for your community what every community deserves -- safe, clean water for all.


Let us join together -- community by community, watershed by watershed -- to protect our health, our economy, and our
communities -- so all of us and our children and our grandchildren can enjoy a healthy and a prosperous life.


Thank you.