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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks on Signing Environmental Protection, Research, and Education Bills

1990-11-16

First, a warm welcome to the Members of Congress who are with us today. And I am delighted to see Secretary Lujan and our Administrator, Bill Reilly, with us; Mike Deland of the Council; John Knauss, the head of NOAA; and other distinguished guests. I want to just say, What a beautiful day, and a warm welcome to the White House.

We're here beside Lady Bird Johnson's tree, a willow oak planted in 1964. And Lady Bird once said she wants to be remembered as one who planted trees. And when I look out at the oak from the Oval Office window right here, at this magnificent oak on a beautiful fall day such as this, I understand Lady Bird and her advice to ``know and enjoy the world around you.''

Yesterday I signed into law the Clean Air Act of 1990, the centerpiece of our commitment to preserve and protect our environment. It makes our air pollution laws, already the world's toughest, even tougher. This year's clean air act is the most significant air pollution legislation in American history, and it restores America's place as the global leader in environmental protection.

Our agenda for the environment is broad and ambitious, one that encompasses not just the air we breathe but also verdant forests and grassy meadows, majestic rivers and lakes, and pristine coastal shorelines. Clearly, all of us must work together to preserve America's natural beauty.

Several bills that I am signing this morning will protect some of the most precious expanses of America, from the sands of the Mojave Desert to the undersea landscapes of the Purple Isles of the Florida Keys to the broad waters of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. One of the bills creates the National Forest Foundation, establishes two new wildlife refuges, and strengthens marine research programs and environmental law enforcement.

And we've not neglected our global responsibilities. Today I will sign legislation enhancing the preservation of Antarctica's vast and unique ecosystem, and I will sign legislation confirming our commitment to build a sound research base regarding global climate change.

And finally, there is environmental awareness, giving teachers the tools to teach our kids about the importance of conservation through the National Environmental Education Act.

Early in this century, the original environmental President, Theodore Roosevelt, said that children should be taught to read and enjoy what he called the wonder book of nature because he believed that our environment belongs not only to today's generation but to the next generation as well.

You're never too young or too old to learn about the wonders of nature. Those of us long in the tooth never tire of that sense of splendor one feels in the outdoors, and we love to see the wide eyes of a child at the moment they first see a cascading waterfall or a bottomless canyon or even a real, live, dangerous animal, like the turkey we had here yesterday. [Laughter]

These bills I'm about to sign are about what the future will hold for our kids. And that is why our environmental agenda is forward-looking -- to the next generation and the generations that will follow. And so, it is with them in mind, those who will inherit this stewardship, that I am delighted to sign these eight bills into law.

And I would like to ask the seven Members of Congress who are with us if you all would come up here, and I'd ask that the Secretaries come over here behind me. And you guys come here, and we'll just get this over with. And thank you all for coming to the White House on this very special and spectacularly beautiful day.

Note: The President spoke at 10:18 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan, Jr.; William K. Reilly, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Michael R. Deland, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality; and John A. Knauss, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

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