Remarks on the Environment
The President. Thank you. Thank you very much. Great to have you, and I hope you all had a truly wonderful Independence Day weekend. In spite of the heavy rain—and it was really heavy—we had a remarkable Salute to America on the National Mall. It was incredible, actually.
Standing on the steps of the great Lincoln Memorial and looking out at the crowds—these incredible, big, beautiful crowds, braving the weather—all the way back to the Washington Monument, we celebrated freedom in all of its magnificence while saluting our great military. It was something really special. And I will say this: It was a wonderful day for all Americans. And based on its tremendous success, we're just making the decision—and I can think we can say we've made the decision—to do it again next year and, maybe we can say, for the foreseeable future.
As we celebrate our Nation's founding, we're reminded once more of our profound obligation to protect America's extraordinary blessings for the next generation and many generations, frankly, to come. Among the heritage we must preserve is our country's incredible natural splendor—that is the shared obligation that brings us together today. We have some incredibly talented people that know environment and what we're doing probably better than any people on Earth.
From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America has among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet. We want the cleanest air. We want crystal-clean water, and that's what we're doing, and that's what we're working on so hard.
For this afternoon's event, we are pleased to be joined by Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Steve, thank you very much. David Bernhardt—David, thank you. Secretary Wilbur Ross. Thank you, Wilbur. Secretary Alex Azar. Alex, great job. Drug prices are coming down. I see it. [Laughter] I'm proud of you. Secretary Elaine Chao. Elaine, thank you. Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Andrew, thank you. And Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality, Mary Neumayr. Thank you, Mary. Thank you very much. In a few moments, we'll hear an update on some of their very important work.
Also with us are Senators Kevin Cramer, Steve Daines, John Barrasso. These are three great Senators, I might add. Perhaps I'm a little prejudiced, because I like them very much, but they're great Senators. Thank you. Thank you, fellas. And Congressman Bruce Westerman. And thank you, Bruce, for being here. I appreciate it very much. Thank you all for being here.
As the Cabinet Secretaries will tell you, from the very beginning, I have given them clear direction to focus on addressing environmental challenges so we can provide the highest quality of life to all Americans. In addition to clean air and clean water, that means being good stewards of our public lands; prioritizing cleanup of polluted lands that threaten our most vulnerable citizens, and threaten them very dearly; and implementing progrowth policies to unlock innovation and new technologies which improve American life and America's environment. So important.
These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind and they have rallied behind. And they've rallied behind in a very Republican and Democrat way. I really think that's something that is bipartisan. For years, politicians told Americans that a strong economy and a vibrant energy sector were incompatible with a healthy environment. In other words, one thing doesn't go with the other. And that's wrong, because we're proving the exact opposite.
A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment. When we innovate, produce, and grow, we're able to unleash technologies and processes that make the environment better while reshoring and, so importantly—you look at reshoring production all the way—taking it away from foreign polluters and back to American soil.
The previous administration waged a relentless war on American energy. We can't do that. They sought to punish our workers, our producers, and manufacturers with ineffective global agreements that allowed the world's worst polluting countries to continue their practices. These radical plans would not make the world cleaner; they would just make and put Americans out of work, and they put them out of work rapidly. They move production to foreign countries with lower standards—our companies were forced to do that, and they didn't want to do that—and they drive up the price of gas and electricity at home and drive it to levels that are literally unaffordable.
And by the way, that's happening to many other countries, but it's not happening here. Other countries, their pricing on electricity is so high, not even to be affordable. At our level, we are doing numbers that nobody has seen before. Nobody believes what we're doing and what we're producing electricity and other things for.
Punishing Americans is never the right way to produce a better environment or a better economy. We've rejected this failed approach, and we're seeing incredible results. Since the election, we have created more than 6 million new jobs. Nobody would have believed that. I don't think anybody—[applause]— Kevin? Nobody. Nobody. If I would have said that during the campaign, it wouldn't have been a pretty picture the next day, as I read the headlines. [Laughter] Six million new jobs.
Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in a half a century, and we have more people working today than have ever worked in the history of our country. We're getting very close to 160 million people, which is unthinkable. If you go back 3 years and you said "160 million people," they would say, "unthinkable."
We're unlocking American energy, and the United States is now a net exporter of clean, affordable, American natural gas. We're exporting all over the world.
And today, the United States is ranked—listen to this—number one in the world for access to clean drinking water—ranked number one in the world.
One of the main messages of air pollution: Particulate matter is six times lower here than the global average. So we hear so much about some countries and what everyone is doing. We're six times lower than the average. That's a tremendous number.
Since 2000, our Nation's energy-related carbon emissions have declined more than any other country on Earth. Think of that. Emissions are projected to drop in 2019 and 2020. We're doing a very tough job and not everybody knows it, and that's one of the reasons we're here today to speak to you.
Every single one of the signatories to the Paris climate accord lags behind America in overall emissions reductions. Who would think that is possible? For this reason, in my first year in office, I withdrew the United States from the unfair, ineffective, and very, very expensive Paris climate accord. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.
My administration is now revising the past administration's misguided regulations to better protect the environment and to protect our American workers, so importantly. As an example, there is a very good place for solar energy. I'm a believer in solar energy. It hasn't fully developed. It's got a long way to go, but it's really got a tremendous future.
The United States does not have to sacrifice our own jobs to lead the world on the environment. My administration set the new global standard for environmental protections with unprecedented provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, commonly referred to as the "USMCA," which includes the first-ever provisions to take on the challenge of marine litter and debris.
And I'm sure you've all seen, by watching televisions, by maybe reading about it—it's a tremendous problem: Thousands and thousands of tons of this debris float onto our shores after it's dumped into the oceans by other countries. The tides come to us. Usually, that was a good thing, but this isn't so good. This is a tremendous problem. Thousands and thousands of tons of garbage comes to us.
While we're focused on practical solutions, more than 100 Democrats in Congress now support the so-called Green New Deal. Their plan is estimated to cost our economy nearly $100 trillion, a number unthinkable, a number not affordable even in the best of times. If you go 150 years from now and we've had great success, that's not a number that's even thought to be affordable; kill millions of jobs; it will crush the dreams of the poorest Americans and disproportionately harm minority communities. I will not stand for it. We will defend the environment, but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity, and we will defend American jobs.
We've refocused the EPA back on its core mission, and last year, the agency completed more Superfund hazardous waste cleanups than any year of the previous administrations and set records in almost every year. We have done tremendous work on Superfunds.
To name just two examples, we've made great strides cleaning up damage near a paper plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, something that was beyond fixup. They thought it was never going to happen. And also, the West Lake Landfill in Missouri.
This year, we've also directed $65 million in Brownfields grants to clean up even more contaminated sites in 149 American communities—think of that—the vast majority home to lower income citizens. That's some project. [Applause] That is some project.
And for the first time in nearly 30 years, we're in the process of strengthening national drinking water standards to protect vulnerable children from lead and copper exposure, something that has not been done, and we're doing it. And last month, our EPA took the first major action in nearly two decades to reduce exposure to lead-contaminated dust.
I signed America's Water Infrastructure Act, along with these great gentlemen right here. We worked very hard on that—very, very hard—and it wasn't easy, to further approve and improve drinking water infrastructure and support other critical projects.
Our administration has directed over half a billion dollars to fix Lake Okeechobee, the Herbert Hoover Dike. I was out there 3 months ago with the—your new, great Governor—and Senator, actually—from Florida. We had our two Senators. We had Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, and our great, new Governor, Ron DeSantis. We were all out, and we made a certain commitment, and the commitment has already taken place, and they're fixing Lake Okeechobee. People are very happy about it in the Florida Everglades. We're restoring the ecosystems in the Everglades.
And I also signed legislation authorizing $100 million to fight red tide—a big problem that some people don't know about but, when you do know about it, that means trouble, because it is bad—and other toxic algae that damages coastal areas. It's causing tremendous havoc, and we have a way of straightening it out, and we'll get it done. We're joined today by Bruce Hrobak, owner of Billy Bones Bait and Tackle in Port St. Lucie—a place I know very well—Florida. His business was devastated by toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee. Bruce, please come up and tell us about what's happened and what we're doing for you. Where is Bruce? Oh, Bruce. Hi, Bruce. Please.
Billy Bones Bait & Tackle Owner Bruce Hrobak. I really appreciate it, sir.
The President. Thank you very much.
Mr. Hrobak. Hello. How are you all today? All right, we have made a big trip up here to make sure we're here. This is very important. This is my family's business, okay? I've owned the bait and tackle store since 2001 and been in Florida since 2006. I have my son Tanner over here with me. He means the world to me. He is my best friend and my son. He's actually a brain cancer survivor. You know, he beat it, and now he's 21, and—[applause]—thank you. Thank you.
[At this point, Mr. Hrobak continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
Listen, my dad taught me, "Don't tell no lies." And when you want me to shut up, I will. [Laughter] But I'm telling the truth. And dad always say—he looked a little like Donald Trump; he did a little bit. But you're much handsomer. [Laughter] Thank you. Thank you very much, sir.
I worked in the towers over there—[inaudible]. I really appreciate it. Thank you, sir. You have no idea how many people appreciate everything you've done. I mean it. Thank you so much.
The President. That's really nice. I appreciate it.
Mr. Hrobak. I appreciate it.
The President. Thank you very much.
Mr. Hrobak. And I want to say one final thing. I've got a big mouth. [Laughter] God bless America, and God bless our President. Give him a hand. Trump 2020.
The President. Thank you, Bruce. Wow. Well, that was unexpected. We appreciate it, Bruce. [Laughter] That's better than any speechwriter I could get, right? [Laughter] Who am I going to get like that? I appreciate it. Thank you.
Mr. Hrobak. [Inaudible]
The President. Thank you very much, Bruce.
Earlier this year, I also signed the Save Our Seas Act to protect our oceans from waste and pollution. To improve water access worldwide, we're supporting the development of breakthrough technologies with the Department of Energy's Water Security Grand Challenge. My administration is strongly promoting bipartisan solutions for conservation. And we're really getting along very well with the Democrats on that one. We're getting things done.
This year, I signed the largest public lands package in a decade, designating 1.3 million acres—that's a lot of land—of new wilderness and expanding recreational access. In December, I signed a historic Executive order promoting much more active forest management to prevent catastrophic wildfires like those that recently devastated California and Oregon.
I went to the fires in California, and I said, "It's also management." It's a lot of things happening, but it's management. You can't have dirty floors. You can't have 20 years of leaves and fallen trees. After the first 17 months, they say the tree is like a piece of tinder. You have to be very careful. So you can't have that. That's why you have so many fires.
And I will say this: Spoke with the Governor of California, spoke with many people, and the process of cleaning is now really taking precedent. It—a lot of people are looking at forest management. It's a word that people didn't understand last year. And now they're getting it. And you don't have to have any forest fires. It's interesting.
I spoke to certain countries, and they said, "Sir, we're a forest nation." I never thought of a country—well-known countries: "We're a forest nation." I never heard of the term "forest nation." They live in forests, and they don't have problems.
One was telling me that his trees are much more susceptible to fire than what they have in California, but they don't have fires because they manage, they clean, they do what you have to do. There's not so much to burn. And we're going to start doing that. And it's called, remember, "management." It's called "forest management." So it's a very important term.
When I went to California, they sort of scoffed at me for the first two weeks and maybe three weeks, and not so much—four weeks. [Laughter] And after about five weeks they said, "You know, he's right. He's right."
So I think you're going to see a lot of good things. It's a lot of area. It's a lot of land. But a lot of tremendous things are happening.
We're joined today by Colleen Roberts, a County Commissioner from Jackson County, Oregon. Colleen, please come up and tell us a little bit about your approach on forest management and all of the community work you've done. It's been so successful. Please. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Commissioner Colleen Roberts of Jackson County, OR. So I want to thank our President Trump and your administration, sir, for this opportunity—this great opportunity—to be here today and speak on this very important issue and in support of your Executive order to reduce the hazardous fuel loads in our Federal forests.
[Commissioner Roberts continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]
Fuels reduction, through the Executive order that our President has put forth, and fire policies can work together for healthy forests and public lands that our citizens deserve. In all of this and more, you, President Trump, have become a friend and the biggest ally to the counties in this great country. And I'm here to say thank you and support you. Thank you so much.
The President. Thank you, Colleen.
And I also spoke with the Governor of California about helping out with the earthquakes. And we'll be doing that. We'll—we're working very closely in California with the various representatives. And we're making a lot of progress. That was something—that was a long time—a lot of shock, lot of shake. And we are helping out. And so we're working with government.
And all across the Nation, our policies are ensuring that extreme agendas do not stand in the way of responsible use of public lands. We're getting Washington bureaucrats off of their backs, and we want to make sure that they go out and help our hunters and our fishers and farmers and everyone. And they want to do it. They're going to do it, and they want to do it—everybody that enjoys and really loves the great outdoors.
In the proud tradition of conservation that the Republican Party inherits from Teddy Roosevelt, we will preserve this land for our magnificent people. That's what we're doing; we're preserving our land. We're making our land better and cleaner and safer.
Now I'd like to invite Administrator Andrew Wheeler up. He's at the EPA. He's doing a fantastic job. And he's keeping America clean, and we appreciate it very much. Andrew, please come up. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler. Thank you. Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership and the opportunity to share our environmental progress with the American public. When you asked me to take the lead at EPA 1 year ago, you asked me to do three things: continue to clean up the air, continue to clean up the water, and continue to provide regulatory relief to keep the economy growing.
[Administrator Wheeler continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
The truth is, when other countries need help cleaning up their air, water, or land, they turn to us for assistance, not China, not Russia. We have the environmental laws, we develop the technologies, and we get the job done. America is and will remain the gold standard for environmental protection, and every American should know that our Nation is cleaner, safer, and stronger today thanks to the leadership of President Trump.
The President. Thank you, Andrew. Fantastic job. Who would've known that, Andrew? I'm glad you finally let people know what we're doing. [Laughter] We're working hard. I think harder than many previous administrations, maybe almost all of them.
I'd like to invite Mary Neumayr to the podium. And Mary has some terrific things to say, and I appreciate you being here, Mary. Thank you very much. Please.
Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary B. Neumayr. President Trump, thank you for your leadership in continuing to advance environmental protection.
The President. Thank you.
Chairman Neumayr. Over the past 2½ years, President Trump has taken decisive action to address environmental challenges. At his direction, Federal agencies are more efficiently implementing air quality standards; more actively managing our Nation's forests to improve their health and reduce wildfire risks; promoting reliable water supplies and deliveries in the western United States; increasing Federal coordination in the environmental review and permitting process; and efficiently managing Federal operations to save energy and water, reduce waste, and cut costs.
[Chairman Neumayr continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]
The administration is committed to ensuring that we are good stewards of our environment, while supporting American prosperity. We look forward to continuing to address our Nation's environmental challenges and to improving quality of life for all Americans.
The President. Thank you very much, Mary. What a great job you're doing. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
So a man who was very responsible for our tremendous success, Salute to America—Department of Interiors. They kept you very busy. Right, David?
Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. Yes, sir.
The President. David Bernhardt. Come on up. Thank you.
Secretary Bernhardt. Thank you. Good afternoon. It is an honor to serve a President who has been focused on conservation stewardship since day one. The President mentioned that he signed into law the largest public lands legislation in over a decade. Thank you all on your side. We are aggressively implementing this Act, which, among other things, designated 1.3 million acres of public land as wilderness, as you said. To put that into perspective, 1.3 million acres exceeds the entire size of the state of Rhode Island.
[Secretary Bernhardt continued his remarks, concluding as follows.] The reality is that America leads the world in wilderness and wildlife conservation efforts. And under President Trump's commonsense leadership, every day at Interior, we are increasing access to our public lands, increasing recreational opportunities on those public lands, and enhancing our conservation efforts.
So thank you.
The President. Well, thank you very much, David.
I got to know this one, David. You, I didn't know, but I got to know this one. He's a tough competitor on the campaign trail. He wanted this position. And we fought, and we fought, and I said: "You know, I want him someday. If I win, I'm going to get him in some capacity." [Laughter] And who's better to get than a man who successfully ran Texas for 12 years? Is that what it is? Twelve years, right? A long time. Great State. And you did a great job.
So I said, "I want Rick Perry working for us." And he knows more about energy than anybody. Come on up, Rick.
Secretary of Energy J. Richard Perry. Thank you. Mr. President, I want to tell you that last Thursday was a big day for me. In the morning, I got to welcome my first grandson into the world. And—[applause].
The President. Beautiful.
Secretary Perry. And that afternoon, I got to watch the President of the United States give one of the greatest history lessons that I have ever seen before and to celebrate the American military like I'd never seen it celebrated before. I am proud to be standing with you, proud to be working in this Cabinet with these men and women. This is a great moment for America. It's a great moment for America for a lot of reasons.
[Secretary Perry continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]
You know, for too long, there's been this conventional wisdom that you've got to choose between economic growth and environmental protection. That's a false choice, and it's one that you've talked about, Mr. President. It's always been this country, and this country that leads—just like you reminded people last Thursday—the greatness of America, the innovation of America. And the future of this world will rely greatly upon America and this administration.
Thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity.
The President. Thank you, Rick.
Secretary Perry. Yes, sir.
The President. And what Rick has done with our nuclear supply—nuclear energy and all forms nuclear—has been absolutely incredible in very a short period of time. I want to thank you. That's fantastic. So important the job you're doing. Thank you very much, Rick.
When I ran for President, I pledged a strong, growing economy and a healthy environment because I believe that we can pursue both at the same time. We have only one America. We have only one planet. That's why, every day of my Presidency, we will fight for a cleaner environment and a better quality of life for every one of our great citizens. Above all, we will remain loyal to the American people and be faithful stewards of God's glorious creation, from sea to shining sea.
Thank you all very much for being here, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 3:37 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Gavin C. Newsom of California. Secretary Perry referred to his grandson Griffin James "Finn" Perry.
Donald J. Trump, Remarks on the Environment Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/333697