George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the President's Environmental Youth Awards Ceremony

April 17, 2008

Thanks for coming. Please be seated, and welcome to the Rose Garden. And thanks for bringing such good weather. [Laughter]

Laura and I are thrilled you're here, and we are thrilled to honor young Americans who are helping their communities by safeguarding the environment. I'm really pleased that Steve is with us too. Thanks for coming. Debbie, thanks for being here.

I want to welcome your parents and your sponsors, and I know they're incredibly proud of you. I appreciate the dedication that you've shown to improve neighborhoods. I really thank the fact that you're a person who's willing to be a responsible citizen and take action.

I'm pleased to have all the regional administrators here. It's good to see friends from around the country. Thanks for coming. Thanks for serving the country.

I appreciate the fact that you know that we live in a country of unbelievable splendor and beauty. And no matter which State we call home, we can always find the work of the Almighty in our State. And today we honor 36 young men and women who have devoted their time, energy, and creativity to being good stewards of that creation. And we appreciate the work you're doing to preserve our beauty for generations to come.

Students here today come from all across the country. And your accomplishments are as diverse as your home States. Steve will read out the accomplishments, but I'll just touch on a few.

First, for the people from New York who collected used books that would have ended up in landfills and donated them to schools and nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Got people here from Massachusetts who worked with local fishermen to switch from using lead weights to using substances that didn't have the potential to poison local birds.

Virginia—the good folks from Virginia used—recycled electronic equipment so it wouldn't end up polluting the environment. Makes a lot of sense; it's a rational plan.

Good people from Tennessee who led hundreds of members of the community to switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs, just like Laura insisted we did here at the White House. [Laughter]

How about the good folks from Washington State who worked with the school district and helped save more than a half a million dollars by encouraging teachers to reduce their energy use in the classroom.

These are practical ways to help protect our environment. And one way to thank you is to have the Administrator present awards to you. You set a great example for people around the country, and you set a great example for the Government. We're focused on conserving and protecting our environment. I don't know if you know this or not, but in—we created the Northwestern Hawaii Island Marine National Monument, which is the largest single conservation area in our Nation's history and the largest protected marine area in the world. And we did so because there are more than 7,000 species in the monument, and a quarter of them exist nowhere else on the Earth. And the good news is, Laura went over to dedicate the monument and did a fabulous job.

We're working hard to protect our wildlife. Through the principle of cooperative conservation, which means we bring together different stakeholders—conservationists and sportsmen and local leaders and Federal, State, and tribal authorities—to protect species that are at risk.

We're protecting our—and strengthening our National Park System. One way to dedicate ourselves to conservation is to take that which is already in existence and make it better. And so last year, I announced the National Park Centennial Initiative, which is a great plan to enhance our national parks during the decade leading up to the 100th anniversary in 2016. This is an initiative that's going to allow the Park System to hire more park rangers and to increase the use of technology and upgrade its facilities and its historic buildings. I'm looking forward to working with Congress to make sure this effort's fully funded.

And finally, we're working to ensure that America can develop alternative energy sources and develop new technologies so we can address global climate change without harming the economy. And I believe we can do both. I believe we can be good stewards of the environment, and I believe we can grow our economy, which we're going to have to do to be able to afford the technologies necessary to change.

So yesterday I announced an important national goal, which is stopping the growth in U.S. greenhouse gases emissions by 2025. It's a goal we can achieve. It's important to set realistic goals and then work hard to achieve those goals.

The key to keeping the—making this work is to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the country and to develop the new technologies that will allow us to utilize cleaner, more efficient energy sources, which, by the way, will have the beneficial effect of becoming—making us less dependent on oil, particularly oil that comes from parts of the world where the people may not exactly like us. So in other words, we're working on our national security and our economic security and, at the same time, having the beneficial effect of being wise stewards of the environment.

But today you're tired of hearing about an old guy speak. We want to hear the stories of young people, young people who will be the future leaders of the country, young peoples who have laid out a strategy as to how to protect their local communities and have done so.

And so I welcome you here. I ask Laura and Steve to join me here on the podium to present the awards. Congratulations. Welcome to the Rose Garden, and thanks for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:03 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, and his wife Debbie.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the President's Environmental Youth Awards Ceremony Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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