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Excerpts of Remarks by the Vice President Prepared for Delivery at Portland, Oregon, and Boise, ID

September 13, 1960

America has progressed over the last 8 years to unparalleled heights of solid economic accomplishment. But we cannot rest there. To meet the growing needs of an expanding population, and to meet our worldwide responsibilities, we must step up the development of all our national resources.

This means, as a first priority target, developing to the full the water and land and power resources with which our Western States are so richly blessed. It means a maximum national effort, in which government at all levels and private enterprise work closely together. And by keeping the Nation's interest always foremost the economic opportunities of all our people in every part of the country will be increased.

The time has come to put greater emphasis on new starts for sound multiple-purpose projects in the field of reclamation and power development and flood control. Once the need is apparent and the project is shown to be feasible, then let us follow through vigorously with engineering and construction. That has been the impetus behind this administration's constant support of projects such as Burns Creek - to push ahead on feasible starts and develop their full potential. We are interested in actual performance, not just promises.

I do not believe the cause of progress is served by engaging in prolonged debate over the relative merits of Federal, public, and private development. Our standard for measuring worthwhile projects ought to be this practical question: What combination of efforts will do the most efficient job at the least cost to the American people?

This Nation is blessed with great river basins such as the Columbia River Basin. They each have many natural resources and power potential. Our aim should be carefully to plan their maximum and comprehensive development - working with Federal, State, local, and private agencies. We cannot adopt a program that develops one resource only to destroy another. Each must be coordinated with the other - for the greatest potential - reclamation, power, irrigation, fish, navigation, forests, mining, wildlife, and recreation. This is comprehensive development and conservation that renders the greater benefits to our people both now and in the future.

We have a magnificent basis to build on. In the face of charges that we are hearing so much these days - that America has been standing still for the last 8 years - let's look at the record:

During these years, we have asked Congress for $1.7 billion for reclamation, and this is almost one-third of the total amount the U.S. Government has invested since Theodore Roosevelt created the Bureau of Reclamation almost 60 years ago.

Since 1953, under the leadership of the Eisenhower administration, Congress has authorized 53 new projects or units. Construction has been started on 44. In the half century prior to the administration only 87 projects were completed, many of those under Republican administrations.

The hydroelectric capacity of these plants represents a one-third increase over the 1953 level, and new projects either underway or under active consideration will more than double this capacity.

Under the terms of our Small Projects Act, more than $40 million in loans has gone to local conservation districts for projects imaginatively tailored to specific local needs.

In addition, hundreds of flood control projects have been initiated by this administration. At no time in our history have more new water projects been started.

As a matter of fact, in 5 out of the last 6 years Democratic Congresses have appropriated less than the administration has requested for reclamation.

This Republican record is not, in anybody's language, "standing still." And in terms of the worldwide challenge, our lead is tremendous: Soviet electric power production in 1959 was at a level that we reached back in 1943. Today, we outproduce them by more than 3 to 1.

The Soviets would have to build eight Grand Coulees a year for 17 years to catch up with where America stands today in power production.

We will maintain our leadership by pushing current projects to rapid completion and by keeping up the pace of the last 8 years.

Speaking in Alaska a few days ago, Senator Kennedy was reported to have said: "The tragic fact of the matter is that if Alaska still belonged to the Russians, Rampart Canyon Dam would be underway today."

This is apparently another case in which he has shot from the hip in the heat of the campaign without thinking through the implications of what he was saying.

I will only say this: We can be proud of our tremendous progress in reclamation and power in comparison with any country; but this is especially true compared with the Soviet Union. Above all, let us never forget that we have achieved this progress through freedom. We could never have achieved it the Soviet way - at the cost of freedom. I imagine the people of Alaska, who of all Americans live closest to the Soviet Union, are acutely aware of that fact.

At the beginning of this century, a farsighted Republican President - Theodore Roosevelt - stimulated our citizens to support conservation programs in order that we might wisely use and also judiciously conserve these raw materials. And, if we are to provide the bastions of the free world with the weapons necessary to preserve our liberty and achieve the growth our people should have, we must renew the wellsprings of our sense of national obligation to manage, utilize, and improve our natural heritage for the benefit of future generations as well as our own.

Richard Nixon, Excerpts of Remarks by the Vice President Prepared for Delivery at Portland, Oregon, and Boise, ID Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project