Jimmy Carter photo

Denver, Colorado Remarks at a Meeting With Environmental, Community, and Governmental Leaders.

May 04, 1978

Senator Haskell, Senator Hart, Governor Dick Lamm, Representatives the Wirth and Pat Schroeder, Mayor McNichols, ladies and gentlemen:

Yesterday when I arrived for Sun Day, it was raining. This morning when I'm going to talk about the smog— [laughter] —in Denver, you have beautiful skies.

I think this illustrates what careful planning can do. And I have had my heart warmed with the welcome here, and it is a wonderful thing for me to come back to your beautiful State and a beautiful city.

During the past decades, Americans have become dramatically more aware of two momentous problems, the problem of the environment and the problem of energy. It's no accident that these two great issues have become prominent at almost exactly the same time, for the use and abuse of energy has led to many of the injuries to the air, to the land, and to water.

Our growing consciousness of the environment has helped us to understand that we must develop and use energy far more carefully than we've ever done before. Today I'm pleased to announce two important initiatives that will help us to live at peace with our environmental needs and also our energy needs—the Denver Air Project, which I'll outline in a few minutes, and our new, 5-year proposal for inland energy impact assistance.

Not long ago in Denver, you could almost always see the mountains in the distance and you could almost always draw a deep breath of air with pleasure and safety. But today, a brown cloud of dangerous pollution frequently hides the mountains and invades the lungs of the people of this city.

Because of the great resources of the Rocky Mountain Plains Region—energy, mineral, agricultural, recreational—Denver has been growing at a rate two and a half times greater than that of the average American community.

By the year 2000, if present growth continues, you will, in Denver, add another Washington, D.C. Car use here, automobiles, has grown even faster than that. In fact, Denver has more cars per capita than any other metropolitan area in the United States, perhaps the world.

The result has been financial prosperity and also problems. Denver has the worst carbon monoxide problem in the whole Nation, three times worse than national health and safety standards permit. And other pollutants—hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, particulates—endanger the air of your beautiful community.

The Denver Air Project will greatly improve the coordination, for the first time in the history of our country, of 25 different Federal activities that relate to air pollution in the metropolitan area. This has never been attempted before. The project will make an additional $15 million available for such activities as transit-related construction, van pool projects, free off-peak bus service, electric car use, and efforts to prevent tampering with antipollution devices on automobiles.

Up to $42 million may be made available as this project develops if it is successful, and I expect it to be successful.

In addition, a separate $16 million urban mass transit grant from the Department of Transportation will also go to improve bus service here in Denver.

I believe that we can deal with this problem not through heavy-handed government prohibitions, but rather through a positive demonstration of how Federal, State, and local resources and, of course, those of the private sector as well, can be brought to bear in a coordinated way.

The Federal Regional Council, under Betty Miller, has done an unprecedented job in bringing together all these forces in a common effort, working very closely with Alan Merson of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Denver's pollution problem is decentralized. It's not caused by a few large pollution-spouting factories or industrial plants, but it's caused by hundreds of thousands of individual vehicles. That means that everyone must help to deal with the problems. And I'm confident that the people of Denver will respond with support for the efforts that will be launched or enhanced through the Denver Air Project.

This morning I looked at a pledge card that's now being distributed among the people of Denver, asking individual citizens to promise to ride the bus, to ride a bicycle, to walk to work, to share a car, to have their air pollution devices carefully adjusted, to have special devices installed for the high altitude combustion required of automobile engines here, quite often built for a much denser atmosphere.

But the desire of people for a healthy environment, while meeting our own energy needs, is not unique in urban areas. Places like the western slope of Colorado and the coal fields of West Virginia will play a major role in helping our country meet pressing demands for alternatives to oil and natural gas.

When I announced my comprehensive energy plan a little more than a year ago, I promised that no State, no community, and no Indian tribe would be forced to bear an unfair share of the burden of meeting our national energy needs. We recognized the disruption of rural communities which rapid development of new energy sources can bring. The boom and bust syndrome in communities such as Craig must not continue.

My administration, Governor Lamm, and Governors of other Western and Appalachian States joined with community and tribal leaders in a task force to determine what additional Federal assistance was needed to help communities overcome the problems caused by extraordinary energy-related growth.

Senators Hart and Haskell had already done much of the spadework through hearings and through legislative proposals. Congress Members Wirth and Schroeder are enthusiastic supporters of this kind of legislation. Their work is now reflected in a new proposal for inland energy impact assistance, which I'm announcing here today. This proposal, which Senator Hart has agreed to incorporate into his own bill, recognizes that no one wants rampant, uncontrolled growth which destroys the natural environment, disrupts established patterns of life, and locks communities into expenditures with a short burst of effort which they cannot afford to maintain on a permanent basis.

It also recognizes that economic benefits, new jobs, and new tax revenues can result from new development in a beneficial way if it's properly planned.

My proposal is predicated on a strong partnership with the States, recognizing that they can better set priorities and policies which will assist communities while making sure that those whose benefit derives from new development pay their share of the cost.

This legislation will establish a 5-year program of energy impact assistance and other aid to inland areas, which will be funded by $675 million in direct Federal grants. It also provides up to $1 1/2 billion in loan guarantees to States at subsidized interest rates. The Economic Development Assistance program will administer this program and give impacted areas one place to turn for assistance, the EDA.

Under this proposal, States and local communities will be guaranteed a timely voice in Federal decisionmaking related to energy development within their own jurisdictions. The Federal Government will join with States and communities, locally, to assess more fully the needs for facilities and services that are related directly to energy development.

The States and local governments in turn must be able to plan for energy development and to gradually increase their own contribution to meeting impact needs on a permanent basis.

This new program is both comprehensive and flexible enough to let States tailor impact assistance programs to their own specific needs.

Senator Haskell, along with the Members of the congressional delegation from the Appalachian States, has labored long and hard to provide impact assistance programs for housing. While I believe the new program meets all energy impact needs, not only housing, I would not object to Congress designating some of these new funds for the alternative housing program.

The cooperation and knowledge which I have found among the Governors, key Members of Congress whom I've already mentioned, and representatives of individual communities and tribes has really paid off. I believe that working together we can enact legislation this year which will give energy-impacted areas the help they need so much. Together, we will not fail.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 a.m. in the Broadway Arms Room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Jimmy Carter, Denver, Colorado Remarks at a Meeting With Environmental, Community, and Governmental Leaders. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245635

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives