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New York/ New Jersey Harbor Estuary Grant Announcement, New York, New York

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Grant Announcement
New York, New York

April 22, 2003

Thank you Jane (Kenny) for that introduction. It = s great to be here today on the banks of the Hudson River to recognize the important work that is being done to restore and protect the New York - New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Our nation = s estuaries are unique places where fresh and salt water mix B creating vibrant habitats for marine life and scenic spots for boating and birdwatching. In addition, the easy access estuaries often provide to inland areas, makes them ideal harbors. As a result, many of our nation = s thriving port cities B including New York B owe a lot to their estuaries.

Unfortunately, over the years, these fragile waters have not been treated very well. Here in New York, industrial pollution, rapid real estate development, and poor environmental management led to the degradation of this important harbor estuary. Many of you here today recognized the importance of reversing this damaging situation and have worked tirelessly to preserve and promote the health of this valuable economic and environmental resource.

Since joining EPA = s National Estuary Program fifteen years ago, a dedicated group of stakeholders, representing government, business, community and environmental groups, have worked together to protect the waters of the Harbor Estuary. EPA has invested over $10 million in this important effort B funding which has been used to develop a comprehensive management plan, research and track the origins of contaminants, such as PCBs and dioxins, and support beach clean-ups along the estuary = s shores.

As we continue these and other efforts to improve these valuable waters, I = m pleased to present $50,000 in grants today to a variety of organizations that help support the Harbor Estuary program. Among those organizations receiving funding is the South Street Seaport Museum, which helps educate the community and school children about the importance of the waters surrounding the New York - New Jersey metropolitan area. Today = s funding will be used to support an environmental education program for children on board the historic Lettie G. Howard B a ship that has over a hundred years experience sailing on the high seas. This two day program will help children learn about the estuary = s aquatic life, water pollution, and, of course, how to sail. I = m looking forward to going aboard and visiting with the children from the Police Athletic League, who are getting ready to embark on one of these two day adventures later this afternoon.

As all of you know first hand, the water quality challenges we face in the 21 st century are beyond the ability of any one organization or agency to solve. President Bush and I believe that public-private partnerships are an essential tool to meeting those challenges. Here in the New York - New Jersey Harbor Estuary area, you are setting an important example of the success these partnerships can have in helping us achieve our goal of purer water for all Americans.

As we celebrate Earth Day, we are reminded of the responsibility we all share in protecting natural resources, such as this one, and I want to thank the South Street Seaport Museum and our other grant recipients for taking that responsibility to heart. Your efforts are an integral part of our continuing work to safeguard this estuary for future generations of young sailors. Thank you.