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Earth Day with Vice President Gore Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Earth Day with Vice President Gore

                  Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
                         April 22, 1999
     Good morning. Thank you Bob for that introduction and thank you all for coming here today.

     As we gather here for Earth Day in the twilight of the 20th Century, I think it's important to remember how this age dawned. President Theodore Roosevelt had set the nation on a new course. He believed that by taking steps to preserve the environment and protect public health, he was also laying a foundation for increased prosperity for generations to come.

     History has proven Roosevelt right. A healthy environment and a healthy economy are goals in concert, not conflict.

     And the Clinton-Gore Administration has taken the Roosevelt legacy and given it new strength for a new millennium.

     We have worked to protect and preserve our natural wonders, while restoring and reclaiming vast tracts of land from their industrial past.

     Over the past six years, thanks to President Clinton and Vice President Gore, we have protected or enhanced nearly 150 million acres of public and private lands across America.

     We've cleaned up nearly three times as many Superfund sites in six years as the previous administrations did in twelve. These sites now mean economic opportunity, rather than environmental hazard, for their surrounding communities.

     Under the President's and the Vice President's leadership, we are cleaning up and revitalizing abandoned industrial properties in 250 communities around the country, leveraging more than $1 billion in public and private funds, creating thousands of new jobs and turning idle land back to productive and profitable use.

     While working to preserve and restore our lands, the President and Vice President have also moved to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

     By enacting the toughest air quality standards in a generation, this Administration is working to prevent up to 15,000 premature deaths a year and improve the lives of millions of Americans -- including 35 million children -- who suffer from respiratory illnesses.

     The President and Vice President have strengthened the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure that our families are guaranteed clean, healthy tapwater.

     And -- as President Roosevelt knew -- protecting public health and the environment helps create a favorable climate for the economy. Under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, more than 18 million new jobs have been created and unemployment is at its lowest sustained rate in nearly a generation.

     But there's still more to do. I would like to borrow from Theodore Roosevelt's message to Congress of December 1907 on the environment and what it means for future generations.

     "As a nation we not only enjoy a wonderful measure of present prosperity, but if this prosperity is used properly it is a promise of future success such as no other nation will have. The reward of foresight for this nation is great and easily foretold.

     "But there must be the look ahead. There must be a realization of the fact that to waste our natural resources, to exhaust the land rather than work to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining the prosperity of our children -- a prosperity we should be working to amplify and develop."

     His words are as true today as they were then. To rest on our accomplishments now
would be to diminish them for future generations who would look back and say: "Why did they stop before the job was finished? Didn't they know what they were doing to us -- their children and grandchildren?"

     Well, we do know. And that's why we will press on.

     And now it's an honor to introduce Vice President Gore who is going to share with us his vision of the environmental future we want to build. In the twilight of this century, the Vice President has worked long and hard to protect the environment and health of the America people. And his work ensures a clear and brilliant dawn in the millennium just over the horizon and for the generations who will make it theirs.

     Mr. Vice President.