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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters at an Alternative Fuel Demonstration

1990-03-13

The President. Obviously, the reason we're here today is to show the interest we all have -- industry, the administration -- in cleaner air. There's no question about that, and that's why I came over here today. This is the first commercial availability of methanol in the Washington area. I want to commend the Sun Company for taking this leadership role in helping our national efforts to reduce air pollution. And I want to thank Mr. McClements himself, the chairman, for being with us; and I would salute not only him but Ray Poling of the Ford Company, who has taken time out of his busy schedule to be with us here today, explain how all of this works in an automobile. I want to thank Chuck Imbrecht and Bob Hahn, the cochairmen of the Alternate Fuels Council, for being with us.

The clean air legislation that I proposed last year is going to go a long way toward achieving our environmental goals. And a fundamental part of this, an integral part of this program, is the clean fuels program. We're working hard -- and I want to, again, thank both sides of the aisle in Congress -- in a bipartisan way to enact the legislation. The Senate leadership and I, along with our top officials here -- Henson Moore of the Energy Department and Jim Watkins, the Secretary; Bill Reilly of EPA; John Sununu and others -- have all agreed with us on goals and on methods that will achieve our plan.

And a variety of clean fuels, no question, can help to reduce urban smog and toxic air emissions. This, in turn, is going to reduce the regulatory burden on a wide range of small businesses out there. The availability of methanol in a metropolitan area -- say, like Washington -- is an important step toward the widespread use of clean fuels. There are a few clean fuels in addition to methanol. Click off a couple: natural gas, propane, ethanol, reformulated gasoline, and then electricity. The flexible fuel vehicle that we see here today, one of Red's cars, a Ford Victoria, is a government fleet vehicle. By using alternative fuel vehicles, the Federal Government is trying to lead by example.

And at this time, I again want to thank both our CEO's that were here with us today. Under the direction of the Interagency Commission on Alternative Fuels -- Henson Moore chairs that, the Deputy Secretary of Energy -- we're moving forward to bring more alternative-fueled vehicles into our fleet. The Interagency Commission and its advisory body, the U.S. Alternative Fuels Council, have an important job in helping develop a national alternative fuels policy.

This is a part of our overall answer to those who worry about cleaning up the environment, as we do. It's a step; it's not the cure-all and the end-all. But I want to congratulate industry -- in this instance, the Sun Company, Ford Motor Company -- for showing fine leadership. And we will keep working with the Congress to accomplish this first major revision in the Clean Air Act since it was first written. It's sound for all of our country. And I'm delighted with the bipartisan support we've been getting. So, thank you all.

Q. Mr. President, haven't you already backed off the requirements for alternative fuel vehicles?

The President. You know, I've discovered something: Nobody ever does it exactly the way I want it done. But what we have is sound, strong, environmentally secure compromise that has the support of the best environmentalists I know of. And we're never going to placate those on the extreme side of the equation that want to do nothing or want to just shut down this country and throw every American that's got a job out of work. We've come to a good compromise, a strong compromise. And so, yes, I can fine-tune it, gripe about one phrase and one section or another, but I'm not going to do that. And I'm encouraging our Senators -- both sides -- to get behind this and move it out, and then prompt action in the House.

Q. But you've already thrown in the towel on a million alternative vehicles.

The President. We've thrown it in, and we're doing well, and people who take a look at it know that we've got a good, sound bill that's going to help clean up the environment -- biggest breakthrough since the Clean Air Act was written. And it isn't one that's going to throw America out of work, so don't worry about that. Don't listen to the extremes on this question. Okay?

Note: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. at a Sunoco station in Washington, DC. In his remarks, he referred to Harold A. Poling, chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Co., and John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President.

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