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National Arbor Day Foundation America’s Choice for a National Tree Unveiling Ceremony, Washington, D.C.

          Talking Points for Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
          Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
          at the
          National Arbor Day Foundation
          America’s Choice for a National Tree Unveiling Ceremony
          Washington, D.C.

          April 27, 2001

          Thank you, John (Rosenow), for that introduction. It’s great to be here to help unveil the new National Tree.

          I am so pleased that the red oak has been chosen as America’s national tree.

          I have to mention it’s also the state tree of New Jersey – although don’t worry, we didn’t stuff the ballot box.

          The oak is a strong and sturdy tree.

          To look at a full-grown, towering oak, it’s hard to believe its modest beginning as a tiny acorn – “squirrel food,” if you will.

          We use oak wood to build things we want to last a long time, objects that have the strength and endurance to last for generations.

          The oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy – the U.S.S. Constitution – is made of oak. Its strong oak hull – off which enemy cannonballs bounced – earned it the nickname, “Old Ironsides.”

          We admire oak tress for their strength, their beauty, and their endurance.

          That’s why I believe the oak is a truly fitting symbol of our Nation.

          From modest beginnings, the United States has grown to become the greatest, freest nation in the history of the world.

          The trees that make Capitol Hill such a beautiful place remind us of those who came before – those whose stewardship for the Earth in their time and place have helped make this place at this time what it is.

          Each of us has the responsibility to be a good steward of our environment.

          Each of us has a role to play, a job to do, an obligation to which we must be true.

          As administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I am keenly aware of my responsibility to ensure that, when my job is done, America’s air is cleaner, our water purer, and our land better protected than it was when I started.

          It’s almost 100 days since President Bush took office, and I am proud of the work his administration has done for America.

          I’d like to mention just three of the important actions he has taken to improve America’s environment.

          By putting in place new controls on diesel emissions, he will make America’s air cleaner.

          By tightening controls on construction activities in wetlands, he will make America’s water purer.

          And by including in his budget record amounts of funding for land conservation and for the restoration and preservation of our national parks, he will better protect America’s lands.

          This is just the beginning – but it’s a good, strong beginning.

          Just like this tree, President Bush’s record of protecting the environment will grow stronger, prouder, and taller in the years ahead.

          I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Cabinet, my friends in the Congress, and with partners like the National Arbor Day Foundation, to fulfill our obligation to be good stewards of the Earth.

          Thank you.

          Someone once said, “[W]e plant trees to benefit another generation,” – and it’s true.

          Planting a tree is a real statement of faith in the future.

          A tree like this will take decades to reach maturity.

          Our children and theirs will be the ones who will, one day, see this tree standing proud and tall among the many historic trees that ornament the Capitol grounds.

          They will enjoy it’s shade, appreciate its beauty, and perhaps, now and again, pause to remember those who planted this tree.