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Public Papers - 1991 - October

Remarks on Presentation of the President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Awards

1991-10-31

Some beautiful day here in the Rose Garden. And may I salute Secretary Lujan and Secretary Jim Watkins here and Bill Reilly, EPA Administrator. Of course, Chairman Mike Deland and Dick Austin of GSA. Welcome to the White House, and Happy Halloween to all.

I saw something on TV last night that I'd like to respond to before we begin here. Despite what happens to Linus every year in the pumpkin patch, I do believe in the Great Pumpkin. Now, you old guys wouldn't get it, but I'll tell you -- -- [Applause]

It is a real pleasure to have our Presidential award winners -- the Challenge Award, it's called -- here on such a beautiful late October day. And I'd especially like to thank the awards partners who made this first-time awards ceremony possible. Gil Grosvenor behind me here of The National Geographic; Frank Bennack here of the Hearst Corporation; Mr. Allison is here today representing Drew Lewis of the Business Roundtable; and Russell Train of the World Wildlife Fund. Let me also add a note of thanks to the awards selection committee and the technical advisers.

Last month, I had the chance to visit the Grand Canyon, a magnificent, almost miraculous sight on a spectacular day. And the scale of all that actually staggers the senses. And that day in September, I spoke about the power of innovation and the strength of cooperation as the foundation for a new generation of environmental action.

Today, we are honoring 9 medalists and 23 citation winners who embody the new generation of environmental entrepreneurs. As President, I've had the distinction of honoring Americans for their achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, and this time now has come for the country to honor achievement in the understanding and conservation of our environment.

We have with us today people who have formed partnerships to protect natural wildlife -- from the Great Lakes in the North to the Playa Lakes in the Great Southwest, and from the Sacramento River to the Barrier Islands off the Atlantic Seaboard.

We are also recognizing companies that have integrated environmental values into virtually every single business decision, whether they are involved in fast food or financial services, newspapers, utilities, household products, or furniture.

And we honor other winners because they pioneered new technologies that save both money and the environment with creative solutions to challenges like agricultural pollution and ozone depletion and state-of-the-art techniques for recycling paper, metal, and plastics.

And finally, we recognize groups who have inspired a new respect for the environment in millions of Americans: newspaper and magazine groups, book publishers, teaching institutions, media advisers to TV and film industries, even the Girl Scouts. And these outstanding Americans have given us cleaner technologies and products, better ways to manage natural areas, and a greater capacity for environmental problem-solving. They are working to improve the quality of life for all Americans through a safe and healthy environment.

Earlier in this century, a man I deeply admire also visited the Grand Canyon and likewise shared his thoughts with the crowd assembled. Looking out over what he called a vista of ``great loneliness and beauty,'' President Theodore Roosevelt said, ``The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. We have gotten past the stage when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for 2 or 3 years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the benefit of it.''

Each of you understands President Roosevelt's challenge. Each of you has acted on it, taken it upon yourselves to ensure that future generations will inherit a safe and healthy environment. And for that, you have my admiration, my gratitude. And please keep up the good fight. And now let's, if we could Mike, hand out these well-earned awards and citations in the following categories: Partnership, enviornmental quality management, innovation, and education and communications.

[At this point, the President presented the awards.]

While you all are here, I have a special announcement to make. We talk a lot about recycling. Well, today we're going to save a few trees by giving two speeches at the same time -- [laughter] -- piloting a new program in recycling audiences, too. So here goes. [Laughter]

But seriously, we are taking a major step in placing the Federal Government in its proper role of leadership by example by increasing all Federal recycling and use of recycled materials. By signing this Executive order today, we will establish a Federal Recycling Coordinator and individual recycling coordinators at each Federal agency. And we are directing, where possible, products made from recycled materials are procured for Government use. Simply put, we are requiring all Federal agencies to strengthen their recycling efforts, hopefully thus setting an example for others around our country.

And so, with that said, I am very pleased to sign this Executive order.

[At this point, the President signed Executive order 12780, entitled Federal Agency Recycling and the Council on Federal Recycling and Procurement Policy.]

Thank you all. Such a beautiful day. Thank you for being with us.

Note: The President spoke at 11:29 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

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