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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

State of the Union and the President's Environmental Initiatives Cincinnati, Ohio

01/28/1998
               Carol M. Browner, Administrator
               U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

                  Remarks Prepared for Delivery
 State of the Union and the President's Environmental Initiatives
                         Cincinnati, Ohio
                         January 28, 1998


     Thank you, Mayor Qualls.  It's great to be here in Cincinnati.

     Let me commend you on the great work you and your administration have been doing to prepare Cincinnati for the 21st Century, and particularly for your longstanding leadership on environmental and public health issues.

      The kinds of things you are doing here in this city -- alternative transportation, recycling, the Zero Tolerance Initiative and the Toxic Sweep Program, to name just a few -- are exactly the kinds of things that President Clinton envisions for communities across the nation.

     As the President said last night, the state of our union is strong.

     We now have the strongest national economy in a generation.  Fourteen million new jobs have been created over the past five years.  Nearly a half-million of those jobs have been right here in Ohio.

     Unemployment and crime are at their lowest levels in a quarter-century.  Here in Ohio, the unemployment rate has fallen from seven percent to less than four-and-a-half percent over the past five years.  And, in Cincinnati, crime is down 16 percent since 1992.

     Over the course of his term in office, President Clinton has cut the deficit by 90 percent.   We are on the verge of the first balanced federal budget since Lyndon Johnson was president.

     No doubt about it.  These are good times for America.

     But the President also is right when he says that now is not the time to rest on our laurels.

     Indeed, we are at a unique moment in time to prepare America for the 21st Century.

     America's economic prosperity is an opportunity for action.

     As the President said, this is the time to take the fiscal measures necessary to keep government in the black for years to come, to ensure the viability of Social Security, and to continue the country's economic growth and progress.

     This is a time to invest in our people -- in their education, in their health care and child care -- so that they can meet the challenges of the new economy while fulfilling their family responsibilities.

     This is a time to invest in our cities -- and to give them the tools and opportunities they need to create an urban renaissance.

     And this is a time to begin addressing the environmental challenges of tomorrow -- and thereby ensure a safe, clean, healthy world for our children.

     It is true that over the past quarter century, this nation has made tremendous strides in protecting public health and cleaning up serious environmental problems.

     The air in our cities is cleaner than it once was.  Toxic pollution from industry has declined steadily.  We're cleaning up more of the nation's hazardous waste dumps -- in fact, more in the last five years than in the previous 12 years combined.  And I know that has been good news for people living near the nine Ohio Superfund sites that have been cleaned up since 1993.

     Our waters are cleaner.

     We no longer have rivers catching on fire.  Bodies of water that used to be virtual sewage dumps are now vital, thriving places where people swim and fish.

          The river we are standing by today is a symbol of the progress we've made, but also of the challenges we face.  The Ohio River is much, much cleaner than it once was -- because state and local governments along its banks, along with community groups and concerned individuals, banded together to reduce pollution.  Today, because of what you have accomplished under the Clean Water Act, the Ohio River is a thriving waterway -- attracting boaters and sport fishermen.  Communities along the Ohio are rediscovering their waterfront areas and attracting new businesses and jobs.

      But the job is not done.  As we enter a new millennium, America faces a whole new set of environmental challenges.  And, as the President said last night, we have it in our power to act right now -- to begin the process of ensuring a safer, cleaner, healthier world for our children.
     We've cleaned up much of the sewage and industrial waste, but the health of people living along the Ohio River and other waterways across the nation is still threatened by pollution resulting from urban and agricultural runoff, loss of wetlands and industrial toxics.

     That's why the President last night challenged Congress to join in launching a new Clean Water initiative -- one that will address these problems by giving communities the tools they need to further reduce pollution.

     Clean water keeps communities healthy and thriving.  This initiative will mean cleaner, safer water for the people of Ohio.

     America and the world also face the challenge of global warming.  President Clinton is determined that America shall lead the world in reducing greenhouse gases, which the vast majority of leading scientists say must be addressed if future generations are to inherit a healthy planet.

     And the President is determined that this can be done while growing our economy.

     Last night, he proposed $6 billion in tax cuts to encourage the development of new, pollution-reducing technologies that will lead the way toward a solution to the global warming challenge.  In so doing, he is investing in America's technological leadership in the world.

     When it comes to reducing pollution, the pessimists have always warned of economic catastrophe.  But today, our economy is the strongest it has been in 30 years.  And our environment is cleaner because we had the courage and the wisdom to ignore the naysayers and to act.

     As the President said last night: "We have always found ways to clean the environment and grow the economy.  And when it comes to global warming, we can do it again."

     In sum, the state of union is strong.  The state of the environment is strong.  And, with the environmental initiatives president announced yesterday -- built on the premise that economic progress and environmental protection go hand-in-hand -- America can grow even stronger in the 21st Century.

     Let me again thank Mayor Qualls for inviting me here today.  I look forward to working with her and others in this city and this region in the days ahead.

     Thank you.