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Administrator Johnson, President’s Environmental Youth Awards, Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Ben (Grumbles), and thank you all for joining us here today.

It is a pleasure to recognize this year’s Presidential Environmental Youth Award winners just two days before our nation celebrates its 37th Earth Day.

At EPA, we see Earth Day is an opportunity to look back at America’s incredible environmental accomplishments. Our nation’s air, water and land are cleaner today than they were just a generation ago – and under the Bush Administration, this progress continues.

Earth Day also serves as an annual remainder to all Americans that environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility.

Thankfully, our citizens are getting the message.

From newspaper headlines to the covers of Fortune 500 reports, we are reading about more and more companies, communities and individuals working to outdo each other in going “green.”

The United States is shifting to a “green culture.” So now, instead of having only 17,000 EPA employees working to protect the environment, we have 300 million Americans as environmental partners – and some of our most important partners are with us today.

We used to call students, “America’s next generation of environmental leaders.” However, these students have already done so much to protect our environment, we should really call them the current generation of environmental leaders.

From raising public awareness about preserving bird habitat in Puerto Rico, to educating the citizens of Salt Lake City about smart energy use, this year’s Presidential Environmental Youth Award winners have proven that even the youngest among us can take real action to improve our world.

So on behalf of President Bush and all of us here at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I want to thank these winners for a job well done.

I also want to thank their advisors, teachers, and family members, for supporting and encouraging these talented students.

Finally, when they leave Washington, D.C. and go back home to their communities, I want to remind this current generation of environmental leaders they’re work isn’t done. Environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility – not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Our nation's environmental accomplishments are rooted in the goal to leave the Earth a cleaner place than when we found it. And looking at these young leaders, I have no doubt that the future of our nation’s environment is in capable, enthusiastic, and responsible hands.

Now I would like to welcome to the podium EPA’s first Administrator. He’s also my mentor, and a good friend – William Ruckelshaus.