2000-09/21 President of the United States REMARKS UPON DEPARTURE ON CONSERVATION
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release         September 21, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                              ON CONSERVATION

                              The Rose Garden

10:00 A.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  I would like to
begin by thanking this distinguished group of Americans who have joined me
and I want to introduce them all.  To my immediate left, looking over my
shoulder here is Mayor Brent Coles of Boise, Idaho; Senator Gaylord Nelson,
the founder of Earth Day; and next to him, his small namesake, Major League
Baseball legend, Gaylord Perry.

     Henry Diamond is here, who is a partner in the law firm of Beveridge
and Diamond, and a distinguished environmentalist, heading the largest
environmental law firm in the nation.  Roger Schlickeisen, the President of
Defenders of Wildlife, over my right shoulder here.  Jack Hanna is here,
the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo.  Frank Beamer, the head coach of
the Virginia Tech Football Team.  As he said:  Last year number two; and
rising this year.  (Laughter.)

     Jimmie Lee Solomon, the Senior Vice President of Baseball operations
for Major League Baseball, Dr. Michael Hirshfield, the Vice President at
the Research Protection Programs of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  David
Waller, the Director of Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia
Department of Natural Resources, who told me to say something good about
wildlife today.

     I often feel that we're in the presence of it here in Washington.
(Laughter.)  And I appreciate his efforts to preserve it.  And the lady to
my left is Sue Maturkanich, who is a teacher from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I wanted to thank her for being here and for her interest in the
intersection of education and the environment for our children.

     These conservation and community leaders have come here from all over
America to work for the protection of our open spaces and our most precious
lands; to ask Congress to provide permanent funding for them with federal
funds dedicated to supporting state and local communities.

     Under the leadership of Chairman Don Young and Congressman George
Miller, the House recently cast an overwhelming bipartisan vote to provide
permanent funding for America's open spaces from the resources the Federal
Government gets from federal offshore oil leases.  There is significant
support in the Senate for this legislation.  And we are here today to ask
the Senate leadership to work with Senators Frank Murkowski and Jeff
Bingaman, again on a bipartisan basis, to pass the Conservation and
Reinvestment Act known as CARA.

     When I was growing up in Arkansas I had such easy access to parks and
woods and mountains and rivers and lakes, that I suppose I took them for
granted a little bit.  But we know that we can no longer take our access to
our natural resources and our wildlife for granted.  In too many
communities, our green spaces and our open spaces continue to disappear.

     For too many of our young people and their families it's becoming
harder and harder to protect what we have left, the meadows and seashores,
the lands farmers harvest, the streams where families fish.  With more and
more people visiting our national parks and forests, we also have to do
more to protect and preserve these treasures.  That's why Gaylord Perry is
here today.  He believes that all our children should have a place to play
Little League ball.  That's why Sue Maturkanich is here today all the way
from Michigan to remind the Congress how essential it is for children to
have a good place to play.

     For seven and a half years now, Vice President Gore and I have fought
for these causes:  to protect our natural resources, to provide communities
with resources they need to preserve green and open spaces.  Working with
Congress, again on a bipartisan basis, we protected Yellowstone from the
threat of mining, preserved the Baca Ranch in New Mexico, saved age-old
California Redwoods, set aside huge stretches of the Mojave Desert for the
national park system, and launched the most ambitious environmental
restoration effort ever in the magnificent Florida Everglades.  But we also
provided significant new resources to help states and communities preserve
farms, urban parks, and other precious open spaces.

     The Mayor of Boise is here, as I said earlier.  We worked with him to
give him the funds to develop a 55-acre recreation complex so that children
and parents have a place to enjoy the wonders of nature close to home.

     Here in Washington, D.C., we helped the city rebuild Girard Street
Park, the only open space in an entire urban neighborhood, a park that will
give children a place to play in safety and the community a place to call
their own.

     We believe every community should have such places so that
neighborhood parks and baseball fields are as common a cell phones and
video games.  That's why CARA is so important and why Congress must pass it
now before it adjourns.

     I want to make it clear:  The virtue of CARA is one of the things
which makes it controversial in the ordinary course of congressional
operations.  It would set aside money that we have coming in every year,
automatically, for these communities for these purposes, so that they would
always know that there was a stream of money there to protect the future
for our children.

     I also hope Congress, before it leaves, will provide adequate
resources for us to continue to protect our air and water and ensure
permanent funding for land conservation.  And I hope they will send me
budget bills free of anti-environmental riders.  Once again, too many of
these bills are being watered down with riders aimed at weakening public
health protections, blocking common-sense efforts to combat climate change,
and surrendering public lands to private interests.

     In the last 24 hours, Congress has added some more of these riders.  I
vetoed bills before because they contained them, and if I have to, I'll do
it again.   But I ask Congress to drop them so we can get on with the
people's business, and they can go back home and talk to the voters.

     A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt set our nation on the path
of conservation.  He reminded us, and I quote:  "Our responsibilities to
the coming millions is like that of parents to children.  In wasting our
resources, we are wronging our descendants."

     Since then, we've answered President Roosevelt's call to conservation.
And time after time, over the entire length of the 20th century, we put the
restoration and protection of the environment ahead of partisan conflict.

     In the weeks ahead, we should continue to do this.  We have a unique
and profoundly important effort to give people at the grass-roots level in
America a permanent source of funding to protect our natural resources.

     A chance like this comes along once in a great while.  That's why
there were over 300 votes for this bill in the House.  And there ought to
be 100 votes for it in the Senate, and I hope we can get it done and these
folks, by coming here today, have made it more likely.

     Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

                    END          10:11 A.M. EDT

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