Jimmy Carter photo

Environmental Priorities and Programs Message to the Congress.

August 02, 1979

To the Congress of the United States:

Four months after I took office, I presented to the Congress a comprehensive Message on the Environment, a charter for the first years of my Administration. Building on the record of the Congress in the 1970's, I sought both to protect our national heritage and to meet the competing demands on our natural resources,

Certain basic ideas remain the foundation of American environmental policy. Our great natural heritage should be protected for the use and enjoyment of all citizens. The bounty of nature—our farmlands and forests, our water, wildlife and fisheries, our renewable energy sources-are the basis of our present and future material well-being. They must be carefully managed and conserved. The quality of our environment must be nurtured by wise decisions and protected from hasty or unplanned actions. Clean air and water remain essential goals, and we intend to achieve them in the most efficient and effective ways possible. And we have a serious responsibility to help protect the long-term health of the global environment we share with all humanity.

I am proud of the achievements of this period. The program I offer today emphasizes continuity, but it also reflects a keener awareness of certain serious emerging problems—such as disposition of the toxic wastes our highly technological society produces.


We have made great strides together since I took office. With my strong support, the Congress enacted and I signed into law:

• the 1977 Amendments to our two fundamental laws for cleaning up pollution, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, including strict but enforceable standards and a strong wetlands protection program;

• the 1977 Surface Mining Reclamation Act, which established the first federal environmental standards for coal mining, and under which regulations were developed with strong public involvement;

• the 1977 Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, which established the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor to promulgate and enforce health and safety standards in all mines;

• the 1977 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, which sets conditions on U.S. nuclear exports to deter the spread of nuclear weapons, and offers other countries incentives to cooperate with our safeguards against proliferation;

• indefinite deferral of other activities which might lead to weapons proliferation, particularly nuclear fuel reprocessing and commercialization of the breeder reactor;

• the 1978 National Energy Act, with specific policies and programs emphasizing energy conservation;

• the 1978 Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, which provided for generic registration and control of pesticides;

• reauthorization, in 1978, of the Endangered Species Act, including new procedures for resolving conflicts under the Act;

• enactment of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 and other legislation to preserve nationally significant areas, adding 45 million acres to the National Park System, 13 new Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails, and protecting more than 4.5 million additional acres of wilderness.

In addition, I issued Executive Orders in 1977 and 1978 directing federal agencies to improve their implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act under new regulations, which were issued in 1978; examine the environmental effects of federal actions abroad; preserve and restore natural values of wetlands and floodplains; protect our public lands from damage caused by off-road vehicles; and analyze the impacts of new federal policies on urban areas. These directives are being implemented.


With these accomplishments behind us, we can turn our attention to new issues and to other key issues that are still unresolved.

In the decade ahead, we will face difficult decisions as we confront the necessity of reducing dangerous dependence on foreign oil. The leaders of the major industrial democracies met in Tokyo last month to chart a course that would help cut the use of imported oil from uncertain foreign suppliers. Each nation committed itself to a specific reduction in imports, to be accomplished in a way appropriate to its particular needs and resources.

For the past two and one-half years, conservation and energy from the sun have been major thrusts of my energy program. Solar energy funding has been tripled during that period and the Congress in 1978 enacted the National Energy Act which will save 2.5 million barrels of imported oil per day. Much of these savings will be accomplished with conservation initiatives. In addition, another 1.5 million barrels of imported oil will be saved as a result of my April energy message and June solar energy package.

To build on these major savings, I have proposed an expanded effort to put this nation on a sound energy footing, with clear goals for the next decade. That effort is based on a bold program to increase domestic energy production and on additional energy conservation initiatives. Overall, this program will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 4:.5 million barrels per day by 1990.

Some of the measures I have proposed will simultaneously serve the goals of reducing oil imports and enhancing our environment. I proposed establishing a major new residential and commercial conservation program designed to save at least 500,000 barrels of oil a day by 1990. I further proposed a total of $16.5 billion over the coming decade for improvements in the nation's public transportation system and in transportation fuel efficiency. A major solar energy program will help us to meet our goal of 20 percent solar energy by the year 2000.

We must also embark on a major energy production effort through a new Energy Security Corporation that will have broad responsibility for developing 2.5 million barrels a day of replacement fuels by 1990. That Corporation will be specifically authorized to develop not only synthetic fuels hut also sources of energy which could have significant environmental benefits, such as natural gas and biomass. I do not pretend that all new replacement sources of energy will be environmentally innocuous. Some of the new technologies we will need to develop pose environmental risks, not all of which are yet fully understood. I will work to ensure that environmental protections are built into the process of developing these technologies, and that when tradeoffs must be made, they will be made fairly, equitably, and in the light of informed public scrutiny. We will examine not only the impact of new energy technologies on land and water and the effects of toxic chemicals, but also the longer term implications of increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

I am pledged to be sensitive. both to energy needs and to environmental considerations. There is no excuse for unnecessary red tape, which has plagued construction of some needed energy projects. I have proposed the creation of an Energy Mobilization Board to accelerate decision-making on critical energy facilities. This will cut out excessive delay, but I will not allow it to undermine protection of our nation's environment. I intend, for instance, to make the environmental impact statement process fit the decision schedule set by the Energy Mobilization Board so that waivers of these statements will be rare. Only in exceptional cases will alternative procedures be necessary for the orderly completion of a critical energy facility. With the exception of new requirements imposed when construction of a critical facility is underway, the Board could not waive substantive environmental standards. The President will retain the right to override decisions of the Board on any waiver issue, and Board waiver decisions would be subject to judicial review.

Solving the nation's energy problem is essential to our economy and our security. We will not lose sight of our other goals but we must not fail in ending the energy crisis. This Administration's basic commitment to clean air, clean water and the overall protection of the environment remains strong.


The highest environmental priority of my Administration is the passage of adequate legislation designating National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, National Forests, and Wild and Scenic Rivers in Alaska.

To protect these magnificent Alaskan lands, I took several actions after the 95th Congress failed to provide protection against exploitation of certain areas in Alaska. By executive action, I designated 17 areas as National Monuments, covering 56 million acres. Additional areas were set aside by the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture. These areas should be promptly and permanently protected by legislation.

The legislation I support not only protects Alaska's natural and cultural heritage but also accommodates the need for balanced development of Alaska's natural resources. Under the Alaska Statehood Act and Native Claims Settlement Act, federal land comprising an area nearly as large as Texas will soon be in state, native and private ownership. My proposals leave most of Alaska's mineral and timber wealth available for development, both on federal and nonfederal lands. In particular, all of the off-shore and 95 percent of the on-shore areas in Alaska with favorable potential for oil and gas would be open to exploration and development.

The only area with significant potential for oil and gas reserves that would be foreclosed from exploration and development is the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, the calving grounds of the largest remaining caribou herd in the world and an important part of the herd's migratory route. Because of our responsibility to protect this extraordinary remnant of our continent's original wildlife, and because oil and gas are plentifully available elsewhere in Alaska, I firmly believe that the Arctic Wildlife Refuge deserves the full protection the House bill would provide.

There are other Alaskan areas where disagreements and conflicts exist over proper management. The Administration's proposals strike a balance that offers future generations of all Americans-especially Alaskans—broad opportunities for prosperity and ;enjoyment without the mistakes in land management we have seen elsewhere in the country.

I applaud the recent passage by the House of Representatives, by a margin of 300 votes, of a strong and fair bill which will protect Alaska's wildlife and wild areas, while providing for America's future economic needs. I urge the Senate to act with equal foresight this session.


In August 1978, I declared Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York, a national disaster, thus authorizing the use of federal disaster relief aid. The tragedy of Love Canal exemplifies the legacy of past improper hazardous waste disposal.

Last month I submitted to Congress a legislative proposal designed to prevent future disasters like the one at Love Canal. My proposed legislation—the Oil, Hazardous Substances and Hazardous Waste Response, Liability and Compensation Act—will provide the first comprehensive program to address releases of oil and hazardous substances from spills and from inactive and abandoned sites into navigable waters, ground waters, land and air. The legislation builds on present authority and fills gaps where present authority is inadequate to protect the human environment.

We do not yet know all of the problems associated with the disposal of hazardous wastes, but we must take further steps immediately. A report done for the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are 33,000-50,000 dumpsites which may contain some hazardous wastes. Of these, EPA estimates that 1,200 to 2,000 may present potentially significant problems, and 500 to 800 of them may have to be abandoned. Other accounts of improper disposal describe shallow burial in steel drums which leak after years in the ground, dumping in open lagoons, and clandestine dumping in sewers and along our highways. These abuses have caused serious damage to human health and economic welfare, pollution of ground and drinking water, and degradation of residential and recreation areas. The cost of cleaning up these sites runs into the billions of dollars. But the costs of ignoring the problem would be far higher.

Timely action by the Congress on my program will enable the Federal government, in cooperation with State and local governments and industry, to:

• identify abandoned hazardous dump sites across the nation;

• establish a uniform system of reporting spills and releases;

• provide emergency government response and containment to clean up and mitigate pollution without delay in cases where those responsible do not respond adequately or cannot be quickly identified;

• provide vigorous investigation of releases of oil, hazardous substances or hazardous waste from spills or abandoned and inactive sites;

• provide stronger authority to compel the responsible parties to clean up dangerous sites wherever possible;

• provide compensation for damages to property and for some other economic losses resulting from spills; and

• provide financing for these actions through a national fund of appropriations and a fee on the oil and chemical industries, and State cost-sharing over certain limits.


My Solar Energy Message, submitted to the Congress on June 20, 1979, calls for a national commitment to the use of solar energy. That message and the program it lays out came from a 13-month effort by my Administration and the public, begun on Sun Day—May 3, 1978.

Solar energy is renewable and secure. It is clean and safe. In the long run, solar and other renewable sources of energy provide a hedge against inflation. Unlike the costs of depletable resources, which rise at increasing rates as reserves are consumed, the cost of energy from the sire will go down as we develop better and cheaper ways of applying it to everyday needs. For everyone in our society—especially our low-income or fixed-income families—solar energy will provide an important way to avoid rising fuel costs in the future. No foreign cartel can embargo the sun or set the price of the energy we harness from it.

I have set a national goal of achieving 20 percent of the Nation's energy from the sun and other renewable resources by the year 2000. To do this we must commit ourselves to several major new initiatives which will hasten the introduction of solar technologies. I am proposing a variety of solar programs to be funded from my proposed Energy Security Trust Fund, including a Solar Bank to help finance solar installations in homes and commercial buildings; tax credits for new buildings that use solar energy and for using the sun's heat for industrial and agricultural processes; and stronger efforts to remove institutional, financial, and information barriers that currently inhibit the use of solar energy by citizens. These proposals are in addition to the expanded research, development and demonstration program I included in my budget for fiscal year 1980.


I will soon announce a national nuclear waste management policy that will be designed to deal effectively with nuclear wastes from all sources, including commercial, defense, medical, and research activities. This nuclear waste management policy will be based primarily on recommendations presented to me by the Interagency Review Group on Nuclear Waste Management. Some of the important findings of that Report include the following:

• Existing and future nuclear waste from military and civilian activities, including discarded spent fuel from the once-through nuclear fuel cycle, should be isolated from the biosphere so that it does not pose a significant threat to public health and safety.

• The responsibility for establishing a waste program should not be deferred to future generations.

• A broader research and development program for waste disposal, particularly geologic isolation, should begin promptly.

• Public participation should be developed and strengthened for all aspects: of nuclear waste management programs.

I also look forward to receiving the recommendations on reactor safety from the Kemeny Commission in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident so that we can assure that nuclear reactors are as safe as the public expects them to be.


I remain firmly committed to the water resources policy reforms I announced in my Message to Congress one year ago. The revised criteria used by the Administration in reviewing proposed water projects have already shown their worth. They are producing environmental benefits and reducing wasteful government spending. In 1979, for the first time in four years, the Executive branch proposed funding new water projects, using the more systematic and objective evaluation procedures I have instituted. With the help of Congress and State and local governments, the Administration has prepared legislation to make further reforms in water resources management, including cost-sharing and assistance to states for comprehensive water resources planning. I look forward to cooperation with the 96th Congress in this area.


I strongly support the establishment of a comprehensive Federal program to identify and protect significant natural areas and historic places. I will soon propose a National Heritage Policy Act which would help Federal agencies, State and local governments, Indian tribes and citizens identify potential heritage areas; establish a new National Register of Natural Areas to supplement the existing National Register of Historic Places; and protect areas listed on either Register, or eligible for listing, from adverse federal actions. This important legislation would support the Heritage Conservation program already established by the Secretary of the Interior in 1977.


With U.S. leadership, the nations of the world are making encouraging progress toward protecting the great whales. At the July 1979 meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), proposals by the United States and other countries for a moratorium on commercial whaling led to dramatic improvements. By the necessary three-fourths majority, IWC members voted to:

• End whaling from factory ships on the high seas (except for hunting of the relatively numerous minks) and allow whaling only from coastal stations;

• Reduce killing of the commercially valuable but jeopardized sperm whales by more than three-quarters, with world quotas down from 9360 sperm whales to 2203;

• Establish a whale sanctuary in most of the Indian Ocean where no hunting of any of the great whales will be allowed for 10 years.

I am wholeheartedly committed to strong action to guarantee the survival of the great whales. The progress made in this year's IWC meeting shows that many other nations share the American commitment. I will continue to press for better scientific understanding of these magnificent and highly intelligent creatures and will maintain the effort to halt commercial whaling.


Following passage of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978, the Administration has sought to speed the acquisition of new park land before it is spoiled or priced out of reach. We shall continue to do that.

Among the most significant and imaginative actions included in the 1978 legislation is the program to establish a millionacre Pinelands National Reserve in New Jersey. The Department of the Interior will support local and State efforts to protect the Pinelands and its unique scenic and natural resources while maintaining private ownership and a sound local tax base. The Administration strongly supports this new Federal, State and local partnership in the Pinelands, and will work hard to see that federal agencies cooperate with State and local governments to ensure its success.


Making the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts work is an important commitment of my Administration. We will continue the progress we have made in the past two years in promulgating fair standards and regulations, and we will continue to encourage new approaches to control of pollution, such as alternative and innovative waste water treatment projects. The Environmental Protection Agency has taken a number of steps in the right direction. For example, the "bubble concept," "offset" policy, and permit consolidation are intended to simplify pollution controls.

I will seek the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which expires next year. This law protects our citizens from newly-discovered toxic pollutants within drinking water, as well as imposing standards for conventional contaminants. For toxic substances which may enter the environment in a multitude of ways, my Administration is committed to the reauthorization and vigorous enforcement of the comprehensive Toxic Substances Control Act.


The recent collision in the Caribbean of two supertanker behemoths, each carrying more than 1.4 million barrels of oil, underscores the importance of effective national and international programs to reduce oil spills. At the outset of my Presidency, I proposed a comprehensive program to reduce the threat of oil pollution from tankers in United States waters, and to win international agreement to higher standards of tanker safety and pollution prevention.

Responding to the U.S. initiative, maritime nations of the world agreed in 1978 to tighten inspection requirements and significantly raise world standards for tanker construction and equipment. The Department of Transportation is completing new rules, based on the international agreement, to require improved features on both U.S. ships and foreign tankers entering our ports, including: segregated ballast, protective location of ballast space, crude oil washing, inert gas systems, and improved emergency steering systems. Dual radars and other aids to navigation are already required.

In addition, for the past two and one-half years, the Coast Guard has boarded and examined at least once a year every foreign-flag tanker entering our ports, recorded any deficiencies, and required repairs if necessary.

The Secretary of Transportation will promptly add to this program requirements for:

• improved construction of tank barges;

• safe conduct of lightering (ship to ship transfer of oil);

• improved U.S. standards for tanker crews and pilots; and

• pollution prevention features for older, smaller tankers not covered by the international standards.

Requirements for collision avoidance aids will also be added; international agreement is near on standards for these important tanker safety devices.

The United States will continue to urge other nations to put into effect promptly the requirements of the 1978 international agreements on tanker safety and pollution prevention. I also urge the prompt adoption by all nations of the new international standards for training and certification of seafarers, agreed upon in 1978.

The proposed Oil, Hazardous Substances and Hazardous Waste Response, Liability and Compensation Act, submitted to the Congress by the Administration, provides for swift cleanup of oil spills, strict liability of spillers, and compensation for victims of oil spill damage.

I expect the Coast Guard to report to me promptly on the results of its study of devices to improve tanker maneuverability and stopping. In addition, the Coast Guard is undertaking a study of past accidents to evaluate further the usefulness of double bottoms and side protection in reducing oil spills. The Department of Transportation will continue to evaluate promising ideas to preserve the oceans and its resources from pollution by oil.


Improving government regulations is important to my effort to make government more efficient and private-sector responses more cost-effective. Environmental protection can and should benefit. I intend to improve the regulatory process in a way that does not weaken our commitment to environmental quality.

If there are better methods to achieve our environmental goals, we should use them. Agencies should seek and adopt innovative alternatives to government regulations which reduce burdens on private citizens or businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency has become a leader among federal agencies in examining new approaches and has made several moves to streamline its regulatory process. In addition to the permit consolidation, bubble concept, and offset policy mentioned above, EPA is doing an effective job of implementing my Executive order on regulatory reform and published the first agenda of regulations issued by any federal agency. A regulatory calendar is now prepared and published on a governmentwide basis by the Regulatory Council I recently established.

Since 1977 the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has gotten rid of hundreds of unnecessary standards, and has reorganized its program to devote 95 percent of its resources to the most serious workplace hazards. In addition, regulatory agencies have begun to work together to coordinate their activities and use their resources more efficiently. I expect such progress to continue and I intend that it reinforce—not diminish—our environmental improvement efforts.


I have proposed and will continue to support reauthorization of important environmental statutes, including the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. I also continue to support a nongame wildlife program, and a wide range of wilderness proposals.

The Environmental Program I am outlining today expands upon the efforts we have already begun with a series of new initiatives in land and resource management, agricultural conservation, urban quality, and improving the global environment.



America's land and natural resources have nourished our civilization. Because our original heritage was so abundant, we sometimes take these resources for granted. We can no longer do so. Our land and natural resources do have limits, and our demands upon them are growing at increasing rates. Renewable resources-farmlands, fisheries, and forests can be depleted through overuse and misuse. We must build into our decisions the understanding that unwise actions affecting our lands and resources are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to correct.

Conservation of resources takes care and planning, and requires a partnership between various levels of government, and public and private actions. The following initiatives for protection and wise management of our coastal resources, public lands, wildlife and rivers and trails reflect this understanding.

National Coastal Protection

America's coast lines are extraordinarily varied, productive and beautiful. Congress recognized the need for special protection in the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, which established a voluntary Federal-State partnership for the conservation and management of coastal resources. Under this partnership, many states have already made notable progress. They have passed comprehensive coastal management laws; adopted new measures to protect wetlands, barrier islands, mineral resources, historic sites and other important coastal resources; worked out better management of hazardous areas; and streamlined Federal, State and local actions affecting the coast. By the end of 1979, 75 percent of the U.S. shoreline will be covered by Federally approved state coastal zone management programs.

The coastal zone is subject to unusual pressures, both from natural causes and human activities. The land and water resources which support the environments and economies of coastal communities are in danger of depletion. The opportunity for our citizens to enjoy beaches, bays, and marshes is often threatened. I support efforts to improve our understanding of these coastal issues, and I heartily endorse the designation by conservation organizations of the year 1980 as the "Year of the Coast."

To help achieve the balanced, comprehensive and wise management intended by the Coastal Zone Management Act, I am announcing three initiatives to continue and improve our resource protection policy.

First, I will submit to Congress legislation to reauthorize Federal assistance to state coastal zone management programs under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Under this extension, each state would be guaranteed a total of five years of federal assistance at current levels after a state management program is approved and before federal support is gradually phased down. This will help ensure that recently developed state and local coastal zone management efforts become fully established and accepted functions of government.

Second, I will recommend enactment of new amendments to the Coastal Zone Management Act that will establish a national coastal protection policy. Working through the states, the goals of this policy will be:

• to protect significant natural resources such as wetlands, estuaries, beaches, dunes, barrier islands, coral reefs, and fish and wildlife;

• to manage coastal development to minimize loss of life and property from floods, erosion, saltwater intrusion and subsidence;

• to provide predictable siting processes for major defense, energy, recreation and transportation facilities;

• to increase public access to the coast for recreation purposes;

• to preserve and restore historic, cultural and aesthetic coastal resources; and

• to coordinate and simplify government decisionmaking to ensure proper and expedited management of the coastal zone.

Third, I am directing the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a systematic review of federal programs that significantly affect coastal resources. This review, to be conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will provide the basis for specific recommendations to improve federal actions affecting the coastal zone and to develop any additional legislation needed to achieve our national coastal management goals.

Public Land Resources

Among the many natural resource issues facing the Nation, few are more important than the management, protection and use of the 417 million acres of public land is owned by all Americans and administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Bureau of Land Management.

The public lands include vast tracts of the arid rangelands of the West which were once lands that no one wanted. Now, some of these lands are highly valued for their energy and other valuable resources, and they have come to be appreciated for their scenic and natural values. My Administration is committed to purposeful management of the public lands and resources administered by the Bureau of Land Management in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner.

Therefore, I am directing the Secretary of the Interior to manage the public lands administered by BLM in accordance with these principles:

• The Federal Government will be a good steward of the land, seeking to find the best balance of uses to assure that resources are available to meet the Nation's needs and that environmental values are carefully protected.

• The Federal Government will be a good neighbor, providing full opportunities for those affected by our management decisions to be involved in making them, with a special concern for the people and institutions of the Western States that are most directly affected.

• The Federal Government will make cost-effective investments in protecting and enhancing these lands within the constraints of fiscal responsibility.

• The Federal Government will seek to resolve conflicts among competing uses in a spirit of cooperation and trust, and will make not avoid—tough decisions on the allocation of the valued resources of public lands.

We have already made significant progress in bringing these lands under effective management. A concerted federal effort is now underway to reverse the declining productivity of the 174 million acres of rangeland ecosystems managed by the Bureau of Land Management for livestock, wildlife, soil and moisture conservation, and other beneficial purposes. We have developed a comprehensive on-the-ground planning process for each unit of BLM-managed land which involves the public and assesses the environmental impacts of alternative actions. On June 4, 1979, the Secretary of the Interior announced our new federal coal management program, which establishes a balanced and efficient process for determining coal leasing and management on federal lands.

Much more remains to be done. I am therefore directing that the following actions be taken:

• The Secretary of the Interior will establish a comprehensive "program development process" for managing all the lands under BLM stewardship, which will, for the first time, set long range goals to ensure balanced protection and use of the resources and develop and analyze alternative programs and investment strategies to meet the goals. Each alternative program will be designed to achieve environmentally sound, fiscally responsible, and economically efficient investment, development, protection, and resource use. This new program planning process will supplement BLM's current unit-by-unit planning. It will invite State and local governments and interested citizens to participate in making better informed choices among the alternative programs.

• The Secretary will give special attention to protecting areas of BLM-administered lands with nationally significant wildlife, natural, scientific, cultural, or scenic resources. An example is the Birds of Prey area, located along the Snake River in the Idaho desert, that has North America's richest concentration of birds of prey, including dense nesting populations of falcons, eagles, and other raptors.

• Finally, I am directing the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to work together to coordinate their Departments' natural resource policies and programs, particularly those of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. I am requesting the two Secretaries to develop within six months a detailed statement of coordination objectives and a process and timetable for achieving them.

Wildlife Law Enforcement

A massive illegal trade in wild animals, wild animal parts and products, and wild plants has been uncovered in the last year through investigations by the Department of Justice, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Customs Service and the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce.

This illegal trade in wildlife and plants has several very serious consequences. It can introduce exotic diseases, threatening agriculture. It creates a market for thousands of species of wildlife and plants taken in violation of the laws of foreign nations, ultimately threatening the survival of these species. It is a danger to the survival of hundreds of species listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to which the U.S. is a signatory nation.

I am therefore submitting to Congress a bill to overcome obstacles inhibiting enforcement efforts.

In addition, I am directing the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, and Treasury to investigate this trade aggressively and to prosecute violators of the law. I am directing the Department of the Interior to coordinate this effort, through an interagency Wildlife Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee which will review enforcement experiences, priorities and problems. I am also directing the Department of Agriculture to chair a task force to investigate the illegal trade in plants and to prosecute where appropriate.

I am further directing that the following specific steps be taken: The Treasury and Commerce Departments will raise the priority of wildlife enforcement cases; the Agriculture Department will place greater emphasis on coordinating its wildlife enforcement program with its disease quarantine program, and will begin hiring special agents to investigate the illegal plant trade; and the Department of Justice will establish a Wildlife Section which will be staffed principally by attorneys trained as wildlife law enforcement specialists.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

Our Nation's river corridors are a rich concentration of natural ecosystems, scenic beauty, and historic and recreational values. Since my Environmental Message of May 1977, eight rivers totalling 695 miles have been added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and nine new rivers have been recommended for study. As part of the Administration's Alaska proposals, 33 additional rivers have been proposed for National Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.

Development along the banks of our rivers continues to outpace our ability to protect those rivers that might qualify for designation. This problem is particularly acute near urban areas, where there are greater demands for recreational opportunities which can partly be met by river protection.

We need to speed up the process for studying Wild and Scenic Rivers for designation and to consider the protection of rivers or parts of rivers which can protect important natural ecosystems. Moreover, the Federal government should set an example of sound management for state, local, and private landowners by taking an aggressive role in protecting possible Wild and Scenic Rivers which flow through our public lands. Accordingly, I am directing the following actions be taken:

• federal land management agencies shall assess whether rivers located on their lands and identified in the National Inventory prepared by the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service are suitable for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System; if so, these agencies shall take prompt action to protect the rivers either by preparing recommendations for their designation or by taking immediate action to protect them;

• all federal agencies shall avoid or mitigate adverse effects on rivers identified in the National Inventory; and

• the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior shall jointly revise their Guidelines for evaluating wild, scenic, and recreational rivers to ensure consideration of river ecosystems and to shorten the time currently used to study rivers for designation.

In addition to the new policy initiatives, I am reaffirming my support for four river segments proposed in my last Environmental Message and recommending four new river segments which will add a total of 930 miles to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System:

• Gunnison River, Colorado (new)

• Encampment River, Colorado (new)

• Priest River, Idaho (new)

• Illinois River, Oregon (new)

• Bruneau River, Idaho (1977 Message)

• Dolores River, Colorado (1977 Message)

• Upper Mississippi River, Minnesota ( 1977 Message)

• Salmon River, Idaho (1977 Message) I am also directing the Secretary of the Interior to develop, through the National Park Service and with full public participation, a conceptual master plan for the Upper Mississippi River in Minnesota. I expect this planning process to determine the specific requirements for protecting the river corridor and providing public access, campgrounds and other recreational facilities on the lands now in private ownership. The conceptual master plan for this important national resource will be developed in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, affected Indian tribes, and the public. It will be completed by April 1980.

In my last Environmental Message, I proposed 20 river segments for study as potential additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Several of those rivers have already been designated. Except for rivers where subsequent development has affected the river's qualifications for designation, I will continue to seek study authorizations for these rivers. In addition, I am submitting legislation to add the North Umpqua River in Oregon to the list of those rivers to be studied.

I am also forwarding to Congress reports on several rivers which, after thorough study, were found to qualify for inclusion in the National System. However, because of the interest of the states or local governments in protecting their natural values, the reports recommend that the rivers be protected and managed by state and/or local action. I am greatly encouraged by the efforts which all levels of government are taking to protect valued natural resources. I am particularly pleased to note that in the case of the Housatonic and Shepaug Rivers in Connecticut, local governmental agencies are taking the lead in developing management plans to protect these significant river resources. I am transmitting reports on:

• Pine Creek, Pennsylvania

• Buffalo River, Tennessee

• Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania-Maryland

• Shepaug River, Connecticut

• Kettle River, Minnesota

• Lower Wisconsin River, Wisconsin

• Housatonic River, Connecticut

• Illinois River, Oklahoma

National Trails

More than 61 million of the Nation's people go nature walking and more than 28 million people hike or backpack at least five times a year. To meet the growing needs of these and other trail users, Congress enacted the 1968 National Trails System Act and directed that a National Trails System be established. Since the establishment of the National Trails System, 257 National Recreation Trails have been designated, including 21 trails for those using wheelchairs and 13 trails designed for the use of blind people, with interpretive signs in braille.

The National Trails System is still in its fledgling stage and should grow to meet widespread public interest. National trails near urban areas can serve an energy-conscious nation by providing recreation close to home for the majority of our citizens and, in some cases, by providing commuter routes for bicyclists, walkers, and joggers.

To meet these objectives, under my direction, the U.S. Forest Service will establish 145 additional National Recreation Trails by January 1980, achieving a goal of two National Recreation Trails in each National Forest System unit. I am directing each Federal land management agency to follow the example set by the Forest Service and by January 1980 announce a goal for the number of National Recreation Trails each agency will establish during 1980 on the public lands administered by the agency. I am also directing that, by the end of 1980, a minimum of 75 new National Recreation Trails shall be designated on public land other than National Forests by the Federal land management agencies.

I am directing the Secretary of the Interior, through the Interagency Trails Council, to assist other Federal agencies in surveying existing trails on federal lands to determine which of those can be made part of our National Trails System and to initiate a grass-roots effort in every region of the country to assess our nationwide trails needs. In addition, I am directing the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority to encourage states, localities, Indian tribes, and private landholders to designate trails on their lands.

Finally, I will submit legislation to the Congress which will designate the 513-mile Natchez Trace National Trail through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. I will resubmit legislation to establish the Potomac Heritage Trail through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C. And I am reaffirming my support for the 3,200-mile North Country Trail, extending from the State of New York to North Dakota, which has already passed the House of Representatives.

I am also reaffirming the Administration's commitment to assuring the protection of the Appalachian Trail, one of America's best known and most popular recreation trails. The 2,000-mile Appalalachian Trail winds through 14 states and is readily accessible to nearly half of the population of the U.S. It has been created by a volunteer movement without parallel in the history of outdoor recreation in America. In 1978 this Administration supported and I signed into law a bill to protect threatened portions of the right-of-way which are located on private lands. I expect this goal to be substantially achieved by September 30, 1981. This is a prompt but realistic timetable for the acquisition program.


From our beginnings as a nation we have sustained ourselves and others on abundant yields from our farmlands. In this century, scientific and technological advances have increased our agricultural production to unsurpassed levels.

But in emphasizing ever-increasing production we have sometimes neglected to maintain the soil, water, and biological resources upon which the long-term stability and productivity of our agriculture depends. These resources are being degraded in many areas of the country. Our farm and land management practices have led to excessive soil erosion, we have overused chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and some of our most productive farmlands are being converted to nonagricultural uses. The agricultural conservation initiatives that I am announcing today address these issues.

Soil Conservation Incentives

Over the past half century we have invested more than $20 billion of federal funds in efforts to conserve soil. These funds have been used for cost sharing, technical assistance, resource management, loans, research, and education. Yet in that same half century wind and water erosion have removed half the fertile topsoil from nearly one-third of the Nation's potentially usable croplands. The cost of replacing just the plant nutrients lost to erosion has been estimated at $18 billion a year. Moreover, agricultural runoff adversely affects two-thirds of the Nation's streams.

Our soil protection programs have undoubtedly prevented even worse soil loss, but we must do better to maintain the long-term productivity of the soil.

The Department of Agriculture is now making an important appraisal of soil and water conservation policies under the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977. The first Appraisal, Program and Policy reports required by the Resources Conservation Act (RCA) are due in January 1980. These documents will analyze conservation problems nationwide, set conservation targets and propose ways to solve the problems. They will provide an essential first step in the wise management of agricultural lands, and will guide my Administration's overall soil and water conservation recommendations to the Congress. Reports will be updated every 5 years and I will receive annual reports of progress and program effectiveness.

I am directing the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, to build on the RCA process and to undertake a further detailed and systematic study of possible conservation incentives. The study will search for ways to modify or coordinate agricultural assistance programs already in existence in order to reduce soil erosion. Moreover, it will also look for conflicts or inconsistencies between farm income programs and soil conservation programs and will recommend measures to eliminate these conflicts where possible.

The results of this study will be submitted to me in January 1981. This report will provide me with specific administrative and legislative recommendations to reduce soil erosion and to improve soil stewardship in order to maintain the Nation's long-term agricultural productivity, building on the policy recommendations contained in the RCA 1980 program.

A second critical land issue for America's farmers and consumers is the availability of agricultural lands—particularly prime farmlands—and their conversion to other uses. In June, the Administration initiated an important new effort to address this issue. The Secretary of Agriculture and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality are co-chairing an interagency study of factors affecting the availability of land for agricultural uses. The study will evaluate the economic, environmental, and social effects of the conversion or retention of agricultural lands and will make recommendations for consideration by federal, state, and local governments by January 1981.

Many members of Congress are particularly interested in these two critical issues affecting the stewardship of our nation's agricultural lands. I hope that the Administration and the Congress will work together to develop and implement appropriate actions, based on the results of these studies.

Integrated Pest Management

For all their benefits, chemical pesticides can cause unintended damage to human health and the environment. Many pests have developed resistance to chemical pesticides, escalating the cost of pest control by conventional methods. This resistence to pesticides has also decreased our ability to control some pests, which has reduced agricultural yields from what they would otherwise be.

Integrated pest management (IPM) has evolved in recent years as a comprehensive pest control strategy which has important health, economic, and environmental benefits. IPM uses a systems .approach to reduce pest damage to tolerable levels through a variety of techniques, including natural predators and parasites, genetically resistant hosts, environmental modifications and, when necessary and appropriate, chemical pesticides. IPM strategies generally rely first upon biological defenses against pests before chemically altering the environment.

The Federal government—which spends more than $200 million a year on pest control research and implementation programs—should encourage the development and use of integrated pest management in agriculture, forestry, public health, and urban pest control. As a result of a governmentwide review initiated by my 1977 Environmental Message, I am now directing the appropriate federal agencies to modify as soon as possible their existing pest management research, control, education, and assistance programs and to support and adopt IPM strategies wherever practicable. I am also directing federal agencies to report on actions taken or underway to implement IPM programs, and to coordinate their efforts through an interagency group.


Our cities give us diversity and enjoyment, occupations and avocations, shopping and services, recreation and culture. By strengthening the health of our urban environment, we broaden the range of opportunities open to all of our citizens, as I emphasized in my National Urban Policy Message last year. The investments we make in maintaining and improving urban quality—particularly those involving federal taxpayer dollars—can be designed to meet environmental objectives, such as safe, convenient, well-planned public transportation, quieter communities, and assistance in mediating potential conflicts between healthy urban economies and environments. The initiatives I am proposing today will help to achieve these goals.

Transportation Policy

Our transportation systems can greatly affect the Nation's environment, for better or worse, especially in our cities. For many years, our energy and other resources were so plentiful that the Federal government encouraged the rapid expansion of a transportation system based on the private automobile without fully considering the profound effects on our resources, our urban environments, and our way of life. Although we have developed an extraordinary transportation system, we have missed opportunities in the past to improve transportation and at the same time to achieve these other national objectives.

The United States has built the most extensive and complex transportation system in the world. Federal transportation expenditures exceed $17 billion annually, including $12 billion in grants to state and local agencies. Transportation consumes approximately 53 percent of all petroleum used in the U.S. The energy and cost advantages of using this system more efficiently-for example, by greater use of carpools, vanpools and mass transit—are now obvious. Better design and use of transportation systems will also help to save and strengthen our cities and their amenities and to reduce air and noise pollution. Thus transportation decisions can help to conserve limited resources, and to further our energy, fiscal, and urban environmental goals.

Federal transportation decisions cannot escape difficult choices among competing objectives, but they must be guided by new transportation policies which I am establishing for my Administration. Urban transportation programs and projects should be reoriented to meet environmental, energy and urban revitalization goals. I am therefore directing the Department to take immediate actions to assure that:

• federal transportation funds are used to promote energy conservation, for example through special lanes for carpools, vanpools and transit vehicles;

• encouragement is given to using federal funds for public transportation projects;

• a careful review is made of any transportation proposals which would encourage urban sprawl (a major cause of high energy consumption) or which would tend to draw jobs away from urban centers;

• consideration is given to improving and rehabilitating existing facilities, or using non-construction methods such as better traffic management to improve transportation systems, as alternatives to constructing new facilities;

• major transportation projects are used to help improve the urban economy and to attract jobs to the urban cores; and

• firm actions are taken to mitigate adverse effects of transportation projects on the natural and urban environment and to carry out the environmental commitments that are made in planning and approving transportation projects.

We have done a great deal to make our transportation policies and actions more sensitive to our national environmental and energy goals. We can do a great deal more with cooperation of state and local governments as our partners in the national transportation system. The steps I have outlined will move us in that direction.

Economic Assistance Program

Most Americans benefit directly from the healthier and more agreeable environment that results from our air, water and other pollution control programs. Although economic data indicate that environmental programs are a strong positive factor in providing employment, there is continued concern about their possible adverse impact on individual firms, communities, or groups of workers. The fact that there have not been a large number of such economic dislocations does not suggest that those that do occur are unimportant. Furthermore, in some instances they can be avoided, or at least significantly mitigated, by appropriate government action.

In 1977 I established an Economic Assistance Task Force, chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality, to investigate whether we needed to improve federal assistance for those cases when jobs are lost partly as a result of actions taken to reduce pollution, and to recommend initiatives we might take. The Task Force concluded that existing federal assistance programs should be adequate, but that we need to take practical steps to let people know about the programs and to make sure help is delivered swiftly when it is needed.

I am therefore directing the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to create an Economic Assistance Program in his agency and to designate Economic Assistance Officers both in headquarters and in the field, who will belt) the public understand and use the programs, and to make sure that eligible people receive assistance promptly. I am also directing all federal agencies with programs in this area to publicize and coordinate closely their programs. A booklet describing and locating available federal assistance programs will be released soon by the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Urban Noise Program

A certain level of urban noise is tolerable or even agreeable, reflecting the multitude of activities that make a city thrive. However, most of our cities suffer from too much noise. Excessive noise is a serious disturbance in city dwellers' lives, and degrades the urban environment.

Most noise abatement actions are taken by state and local governments, but there is an important role for the Federal government. I am initiating today a program to reduce urban noise by directing the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration, in consultation with other federal agencies, to take a number of actions to improve existing noise abatement programs, including:

• programs to achieve soundproofing and weatherization of noise sensitive buildings, such as schools and hospitals;

• use of quiet-design features in transportation projects affecting urban areas;

• measures to encourage the location of housing developments away from major noise sources;

• purchase of quiet equipment and products—such as typewriters and lawn mowers which have been designed to reduce noise—and assistance to state and local agencies to do likewise; and

• support for neighborhood efforts to deal with noise problems.


Efforts to improve the environment cannot be confined to our national boundaries. Ten years ago, at the dawn of the environmental decade, we landed on the moon. For the first time people could stand on the surface of another world and look at the whole earth. The sight of earthrise was awesome. It was also sobering. From that moment we could no longer avoid understanding that all life must share this one small planet and its limited resources. The interdependence of nations is plain, and so is the responsibility of each to avoid actions which harm other nations or the world's environment. I am announcing today two initiatives which address global environmental problems of the greatest importance.

World Forests

The world's forests and woodlands are disappearing at alarming rates. Some estimates suggest that world forests could decline by about 20 percent by 2000. More than 40 percent of the closed forests of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Pacific, and Latin America could be lost.

Nearly all the world's forest loss is occurring in or near the tropics. In these areas, environmental damage from deforestation can be severe—even irreversible-and the human costs extremely high. For example, denudation of Himalayan slopes has led to severe soil erosion, silting of rivers, loss of groundwater, and intensified, catastrophic flooding downstream. Many tropical forests, once cut, will not regrow because soils, rainfall, temperature, or terrain are too unfavorable; nor will the land support crops or pasture for more than a few years. Another serious possible consequence of tropical forest loss is accelerating extinction of species. Tropical forests provide habitat for literally millions of plant and animal species—a genetic reservoir unmatched anywhere else in the world. Equally serious is the possibility that forest loss may adversely alter the global climate through production of carbon dioxide. These changes and their effects are not well understood and are being studied by scientists, but the possibilities are disturbing and warrant caution.

The United States and other nations are just beginning to appreciate fully the scope and seriousness of the problem and to assess the effects of development projects on world forests. There is much more to be done. I am therefore directing all relevant federal agencies to place greater emphasis on world forest issues in their budget and program planning. An interagency task force established last fall and chaired by the State Department will report to me in November 1979 on specific goals, strategies, and programs that the United States should undertake. On the basis of these recommendations, I will direct federal agencies to carry out an integrated set of actions to help toward protection and wise management of world forests.

In the international arena, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme has just adopted a resolution—introduced by the United States—calling for a meeting of experts to develop proposals for an integrated international program for conservation and wise utilization of tropical forests, and to report to the next Governing Council meeting in April 1980. I am asking the Departments of State and Agriculture, the Council on Environmental Quality, and other federal agencies to give this program full support and assistance and to encourage and support high-level multinational conferences on forest problems in regions where forest losses are severe.

To help protect the earth's natural resource base, I issued an Executive Order earlier this year, which .directs federal agencies to review carefully in advance the effects of many federal activities abroad. I am directing the Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of State to report to me within six months on the best ways to designate the globally important resources to which the order applies.

Acid Rain

Acid rain has caused serious environmental damage in many parts of the world including Scandinavia, Northern. Europe, Japan, Canada and the Northeastern part of the United States. Over the past 25 years the acidity of rainfall has increased as much as fifty-fold in parts of the Eastern half of the United States. In the Adirondacks in New York, many mountain lakes have become devoid of fish partly because of increasing acidification. Adverse effects on crops and forests are suspected; steel and stone buildings and art works may suffer as well.

Acid rain is produced when rain removes sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from the air, forming sulfuric and nitric acid. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are emitted in all forms of fossil fuel combustion. Power plants, smelters, steel mills, home furnaces, automobiles—all may contribute to acid rain.

To improve our understanding of acid rain, I am establishing a ten year comprehensive Federal Acid Rain. Assessment Program to be planned and managed by a standing Acid Rain Coordination Committee. The assessment program will include applied and basic research on acid rain effects, trends monitoring, transport and fate of pollutants, and control measures. The Committee will establish links with industry to promote cooperative research wherever appropriate. The Committee will also play a role in future research cooperation with Canada, Mexico, and other nations and international organizations. The Committee will prepare a comprehensive 10-year plan for review by the end of the year. In its first full year of operation, the program will have $10 million in reprogrammed research funds available, double the current amount for acid rain research.

It is important to emphasize that such a long-time acid rain research program will not delay application of necessary pollution control measures to meet the mandate of the Clean Air Act. In addition, interim results from the acid rain research program will be made available to the public, to states, to industry and to the federal government agencies responsible for developing measures to reduce air pollution.


The preservation of our environment has needed to become a special concern to our country at least since the ending of the Western frontier. A former President put it clearly:

"The conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our National life. We must maintain for our civilization the adequate material basis without which that civilization cannot exist. We must show foresight, we must look ahead. The reward of foresight of this nation is great and easily foretold. But there must be the look ahead, there must be a realization of the fact that to waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very, prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed."

That was President Theodore Roosevelt speaking in a State of the Union Message more than 70 years ago.

That message needs to be repeated and heard just as clearly today. Above all-it needs to be delivered.

My Administration will continue to lead in conserving our resources and reducing risks to the environment through sound and efficient management. But all our citizens must join the effort by contributing energies and ideas.

Only with your cooperation can we maintain our advance towards protecting our environment. Only together can we hope to secure our world for the life to come.


The White House,

August 2, 1979.

Jimmy Carter, Environmental Priorities and Programs Message to the Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249996

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