Richard Nixon photo

Special Message to the Congress Outlining the 1972 Environmental Program

February 08, 1972

To the Congress of the United States:

From the very first, the American spirit has been one of self-reliance and confident action. Always we have been a people to say with Henley "I am the master of my fate . . . the captain of my soul"-a people sure that man commands his own destiny. What has dawned dramatically upon us in recent years, though, is a new recognition that to a significant extent man commands as well the very destiny of this planet where he lives, and the destiny of all life upon it. We have even begun to see that these destinies are not many and separate at all--that in fact they are indivisibly one.

This is the environmental awakening. It marks a new sensitivity of the American spirit and a new maturity of American public life. It is working a revolution in values, as commitment to responsible partnership with nature replaces cavalier assumptions that we can play God with our surroundings and survive. It is leading to broad reforms in action, as individuals, corporations, government, and civic groups mobilize to conserve resources, to control pollution, to anticipate and prevent emerging environmental problems, to manage the land more wisely, and to preserve wildness.

In messages to the Congress during 1970 and 1971 I proposed comprehensive initiatives reflecting the earliest and most visible concerns of the environmental awakening. The new cast of the public mind had to be translated into new legislation. New insights had to have new governmental forms and processes through which to operate. Broadly-based problems--such as air pollution, water pollution and pesticide hazards had to be dealt with first.

The necessary first steps in each of these areas have now been taken, though in all of them the work is far from completed. Now, as we press on with that work in 1972, we must also come to grips with the basic factors which underlie our more obvious environmental problems--factors like the use of land and the impact of incentives or disincentives built into our economic system. We are gaining an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the way economic, institutional, and legal forces shape our surroundings for good or ill; the next step is learning how to turn such forces to environmental benefit.

Primary responsibility for the actions that are needed to protect and enhance our environment rests with State and local government, consumers, industry, and private organizations of various kinds-but the Federal Government must provide leadership. On the first day of this decade I stated that "it is literally now or never" for true quality of life in America. Amid much encouraging evidence that it can and will be "now," we must not slacken our pace but accelerate it. Environmental concern must crystallize into permanent patterns of thought and action. What began as environmental awakening must mature finally into a new and higher environmental way of life. If we flag in our dedication and will, the problems themselves will not go away. Toward keeping the momentum of awareness and action, I pledge my full support and that of this Administration, and I urgently solicit the continuing cooperation of the Congress and the American people.



In my 1971 environmental message, just one year ago today, I sent to the Congress a comprehensive program designed to clean up the problems of the past, and to deal with emerging problems before they become critical. These proposals included:

Regulation of toxic substances

Comprehensive improvement in pesticide control authority

Noise control

Preservation of historic buildings

Power plant siting

Regulation of environmental effects of surface and underground mining Ocean

dumping regulation

More effective control of water pollution through a greatly expanded waste treatment grant program and strengthened standard-setting and enforcement authorities

A National Land Use Policy Act Substantial expansion of the wilderness system Expanded international cooperation.

To date, most of the legislation on this list has been the subject of congressional hearings; most of it has attracted heartening interest and support; but none of it has yet received final congressional action Last year was, quite properly, a year of consideration of these measures by the Congress. I urge, however, that this be a year of action on all of them, so that we can move on from intention to accomplishment in the important needs they address. Passage of these measures and creation of the unified Department of Natural Resources which I also proposed in 1971--by this 92nd Congress--will be essential if we are to have an adequate base for improving environmental quality.


As that base is being established, we must move ahead to build wisely and rapidly upon it. I shall outline today a plan for doing that, with initiatives and actions in the following areas:

--Tightening pollution control

A Toxic Wastes Disposal Control Act

Legislation to control sediment from construction activities

An emissions charge to reduce sulfur oxide air pollution

Clean energy research and energy conservation measures

--Making technology an environmentally

Integrated pest management

Stepped-up research on noise control

Stepped-up research on air pollution effects and measurement

--Improving land use

Expansion and strengthening of the National Land Use Policy Act

Protection of wetlands

--Protecting our natural heritage

A ban on use of poisons for predator control on public lands

A stronger law to protect endangered species of wildlife

Big Cypress National Fresh Water Reserve

National Recreation Areas around New York Harbor and the Golden Gate

Conversion of 20 additional Federal properties to recreational use

18 new Wilderness Areas Regulation of off-road vehicles on Federal lands

--Expanding international cooperation on the environment

Establishment of a United Nations

Fund for the Environment

Further measures to control marine pollution

--Protecting children from lead-based paint

--Enlisting the young

President's Environmental Merit Awards Program for high schools

Youth opportunities in the Department of Agriculture Field Scout program.


The legislative framework for dealing with our major air pollution problems has become law, and I have made comprehensive recommendations regarding water pollution control. But several problems remain to be addressed which are difficult to deal with under the general pollution control authorities.


Increasingly strict air and water pollution control laws and their more effective enforcement have led to greater reliance on land--both surface and underground--for disposal of waste products from the toxic substances being used in ever greater volume and variety in our society. Without adequate controls, such waste disposal may cause contamination of underground and surface waters leading to direct health hazards.

--I propose a Toxic Wastes Disposal Control Act, under which the Environmental Protection Agency would establish Federal guidelines and requirements for State programs to regulate disposal on or under the land of those toxic wastes which pose a hazard to health. The act would provide for Federal enforcement action if a State should fail to establish its own program.


Sediment, small particles of soil which enter the water, is the most pervasive water pollution problem which does not come primarily from municipal or industrial sources. Heavy loads of sediment interfere with many beneficial uses of water, such as swimming and water supply, and can change the entire character of an aquatic environment. Many of our great waterways are afflicted with this problem. In our urban areas, a significant amount of sediment comes from construction. However, if proper construction practices are followed, sediment runoff from this source can be greatly reduced.

---I propose legislation calling upon the States to establish, through appropriate local and regional agencies, regulatory programs to control sediment affecting water quality from earth-moving activities such as building and road construction.

The Environmental Protection Agency, together with other Federal agencies, would develop Federal guidelines for appropriate control measures. Federal enforcement would take place in situations where a State failed to implement such a program.


In my 1971 Environmental Message, I announced plans to ask for imposition of a charge on sulfur oxides emissions, one of the air pollutants most damaging to human health and property, and vegetation. The Council on Environmental Quality, the Treasury Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have now completed their studies on this measure and have developed the details of an emission charge proposal.

--I propose a charge on sulfur emitted into the atmosphere from combustion, refining, smelting, and other processes.

This charge would begin in 1976 and apply in all regions where the air quality does not meet national standards for sulfur oxides during 1975. The charge would be 15¢ per pound on sulfur emitted in regions where the primary standards-which are designed to be protective of public health--have not been met within the deadline for achievement prescribed in the Clean Air Act. In regions where air quality met the primary standard but exceeded the secondary national standard-designed to protect property, vegetation, and aesthetic values--a charge of $.10 per pound of sulfur emitted would apply. Areas which reduce emissions sufficiently to meet both primary and secondary air quality standards would be exempt from the emission charge.

This charge is an application of the principle that the costs of pollution should be included in the price of the product. Combined with our existing regulatory authority, it would constitute a strong economic incentive to achieve the sulfur oxides standards necessary to protect health, and then further to reduce emissions to levels which protect welfare and aesthetics.



Ours is an energy-based economy, and energy resources are the basis for future economic progress. Yet the consumption of energy-producing fuels contributes to many of our most serious pollution problems. In order to have both environmental quality and an improving standard of living, we will need to develop new clean energy sources and to learn to use energy more efficiently.

Our success in meeting energy needs while preventing adverse environmental effects from energy generation and transmission will depend heavily on the state of available technology. In my message to the Congress on energy of last June, I announced a series of steps to increase research on clean and efficient energy production. But further action is needed.

--As part of my new commitment to augment Federal research and development and target it more effectively on solving domestic problems, I have requested in the 1973 budget an additional $88 million for development of a broad spectrum of new technologies for producing clean energy.

In addition to carrying forward the priority efforts I have already announced the liquid metal fast breeder reactor, pipeline quality gas from coal, and sulfur oxide control technology--the budget provides funds for new or increased efforts on fusion power, solar energy, magneto-hydrodynamics, industrial gas from coal, dry cooling towers for power plant waste heat, large energy storage batteries and advanced underground electric transmission lines. These new efforts relate to both our immediate and our future energy problems, and are needed to assure adequate supplies of clean energy.

My message on energy also announced several steps that would be taken by the Federal Government to use energy more efficiently and with less environmental harm. One of these steps was issuance by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development of revised standards for insulation in new federally insured houses. The new standards for single-family structures, which have now been issued through the Federal Housing Administration, reduce the maximum permissible heat loss by about one-third for a typical home. The fuel savings which will result from the application of these new standards will, in an average climate, exceed in one year the cost of the additional insulation required.

--I am now directing the Secretary o! Housing and Urban Development to issue revised insulation standards for apartments and other multifamily structures not covered by the earlier revision. The new rules will cut maximum permissible heat loss by 40%.

The savings in fuel costs after a 5-year period will on the average more than offset the additional construction costs occasioned by these revised standards.

These stricter insulation standards are only one example of administrative actions which can be taken by the Federal Government to eliminate wasteful use of energy. The Federal Government can and must provide leadership by finding and implementing additional ways of reducing such waste.

--I have therefore instructed the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology, working with other Federal agencies, to conduct a survey to determine what additional actions might be taken to conserve energy in Federal activities.

This survey will look at innovative ways to reduce wasteful consumption of energy while also reducing total costs and undesirable environmental impact.


Recycling--the technique which treats many types of solid wastes not as pollutants but as recoverable and reusable "resources out of place"--is an important part of the answer to the Nation's solid waste burden. Last year, at my direction, the General Services Administration began reorienting government procurement policies to set a strong Federal example in the use of recycled products.

---Because Federal tax policy should also offer recycling incentives, the Treasury Department is clarifying the availability of tax exempt treatment industrial revenue bond financing for the construction of recycling facilities built by private concerns to recycle their own wastes.


Many environmental problems are influenced by the way our economy operates. Conversely, efforts to improve environmental quality have an impact on the economy. Our national income accounting does not explicitly recognize the cost of pollution damages to health, materials, and aesthetics in the computation of our economic well-being. Many goods and services fail to bear the full costs of the damages they cause from pollution, and hence are underpriced.

Environmental quality requirements will affect many of our industries by imposing new costs on production. We know that these impacts fall unevenly on industries, new and old firms, and on communities, but little concrete data has been available. Contract studies have recently been performed for the Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Commerce, under me policy guidance of the Council of Economic Advisers. These initial studies suggest that pollution control costs will result in some price increases, competitive trade disadvantages, and employment shifts. The major impact of these costs will be on older, and usually smaller plants.

As long as we carefully set our environmental goals to assure that the benefits we achieve are greater than the social and economic costs, the changes which will occur in our economy are desirable, and we as a Nation will benefit from them.


The time has come to increase the technological resources allocated to the challenges of meeting high-priority domestic needs. In my State of the Union Message last month, I announced an expanded Federal research and development commitment for this purpose. There is great potential for achievement through technology in the fight against pollution and the larger drive for quality in our environment.

The temptation to cast technology in the role of ecological villain must be resisted--for to do so is to deprive ourselves of a vital tool available for enhancing environmental quality. As Peter Drucker has said, "the environment is a problem of [the] success"1 of technological society, by no means a proof of its failure. The difficulties which some applications of technology have engendered might indeed be rectified by turning our backs on the 20th century, but only at a price in privation which we do not want to pay and do not have to pay. There is no need to throw out the baby with the bath water. Technology can and must be wisely applied so that it becomes environmentally self-corrective. This is the standard for which we must aim.

1 Peter F. Drucker, "The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society" (Harper and Row, 1969).


Chemical pesticides are a familiar example of a technological innovation which has provided important benefits to man but which has also produced unintended and unanticipated harm. New technologies of integrated pest management must be developed so that agricultural and forest productivity can be maintained together with, rather than at the expense of, environmental quality. Integrated pest management means judicious use of selective chemical pesticides in combination with nonchemical agents and methods. It seeks to maximize reliance on such natural pest population controls as predators, sterilization, and pest diseases. The following actions are being taken:

--I have directed the Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency to launch a large-scale integrated pest management research and development program. This program will be conducted by a number of our leading universities.

--I have directed the Department of Agriculture to increase field testing of promising new methods of pest detection and control. Also, other existing Federal pesticide application programs will be examined for the purpose of incorporating new pest management techniques.

--I have directed the Departments of Agriculture and of Health, Education, and Welfare to encourage the development of training and certification programs at appropriate academic institutions in order to provide the large number of crop protection specialists that will be needed as integrated pest management becomes more fully utilized.

--I have authorized the Department of Agriculture to expand its crop field scout demonstration program to cover nearly four million acres under agricultural production by the upcoming growing season.

Through this program many unnecessary pesticide applications can be eliminated, since the scouts will be used to determine when pesticide applications are actually needed.

In my message on the environment last February, I proposed a comprehensive revision of our pesticide control laws--a revision which still awaits final congressional action. Also essential to a sound national pesticide policy are measures to ensure that agricultural workers are protected from adverse exposures to these chemicals.

--I am directing the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare to develop standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect such workers from pesticide poisoning.


Scientific findings increasingly confirm what few urban dwellers or industrial workers need to be told--that excessive noise can constitute a significant threat to human well-being. The Congress already has before it a comprehensive noise control bill, which I proposed a year ago. A quieter environment cannot simply be legislated into being. We shall also need to develop better methods to achieve our goal.

--I have requested in my 1973 budget a $23 million increase in research and development funds for reducing noise from airplanes. I have also requested new funds for research and development for reducing street traffic noise.



Our pollution control efforts are based largely on the establishment of enforceable standards of environmental quality. Initial standards have often been based on incomplete know]edge because the necessary information has not been available. Also, the lack of adequate instruments to measure pollution and of models of how pollutants are dispersed has made it difficult to know exactly how much pollution must be controlled in a particular area. We need added research and development to make more precise judgments of what standards should be set and how we can most practically achieve our goals.

--I have requested in my 1973 budget an additional $12 million to increase research on the health effects of air pollution, on regional air pollution modeling, and on improved pollution instrumentation and measurement.


In recent years we have come to view our land as a limited and irreplaceable resource. No longer do we imagine that there will always be more of it over the horizon--more woodlands and shorelands and wetlands--if we neglect or overdevelop the land in view. A new maturity is giving rise to a land ethic which recognizes that improper land use affects the public interest and limits the choices that we and our descendants will have.

Now we must equip our institutions to carry out the responsibility implicit in this new outlook. We must create the administrative and regulatory mechanisms necessary to assure wise land use and to stop haphazard, wasteful, or environmentally damaging development. Some States are moving ahead on their own to develop stronger land-use institutions and controls. Federal programs can and should reinforce this encouraging trend.


The National Land Use Policy Act, which I proposed to the Congress last year, would provide Federal assistance to encourage the States, in cooperation with local governments, to protect lands which are of critical environmental concern and to control major development. While not yet enacted, this measure has been the subject of much useful debate.

--I propose amendments to this pending National Land Use Policy legislation which would require States to control the siting of major transportation facilities, and impose sanctions on any State which does not establish an adequate land use program.

Under these amendments, the State programs established pursuant to the act would not only have to embody methods for controlling land use around key growth-inducing developments such as highways, airports, and recreational facilities; the States would also have to provide controls over the actual siting of the major highways and airports themselves. The change recognizes the fact that these initial siting decisions, once made, can often trigger runaway growth and adverse environmental effects.

The amendments would further provide that any State that had not established an acceptable land use program by 1975 would be subject to annual reductions of certain Federal funds. Seven percent of the funds allocated under sections of the Airport and Airways Development Act, the Federal-Aid Highway Acts including the Highway Trust Fund, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, would be withheld in the first year. An additional 7 percent would be withheld for each additional year that a State was without an approved land use program. Money thus withheld from noncomplying States would be allocated among States which did have acceptable programs.

These strong new amendments are necessary in view of the significant effect that Federal programs, particularly transportation programs, have upon land use decisions.


The Nation's coastal and estuarine wetlands are vital to the survival of a wide variety of fish and wildlife; they have an important function in controlling floods and tidal forces; and they contain some of the most beautiful areas left on this continent. These same lands, however, are often some of the most sought-after for development. As a consequence, wetland acreage has been declining as more and more areas are drained and filled for residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

My National Land Use Policy Act would direct State attention to these important areas by defining wetlands among the "environmentally critical areas" which it singles out for special protection, and by giving priority attention to the coastal zones. I propose to supplement these safeguards with new economic disincentives to further discourage unnecessary wetlands development.

--I propose legislation to limit applicability of certain Federal tax benefits when development occurs in coastal wetlands.


During 1971, I acted to strengthen the environmental requirements relating to management and use of the Nation's vast acreage of federally-owned public lands administered by the Department of the Interior. I proposed new legislation to establish an overall management policy for these public lands, something which we have been without for far too long. This legislation, still pending before the Congress, would direct the Secretary of the Interior to manage our public lands in a manner that would protect their environmental quality for present and future generations. The policy which it would establish declares the retention of the public lands to be in the national interest except where disposal of particular tracts would lead to a significant improvement in their management, or where the disposal would serve important public objectives which cannot be achieved on non-public lands.


Wild places and wild things constitute a treasure to be cherished and protected for all time. The pleasure and refreshment which they give man confirm their value to society. More importantly perhaps, the wonder, beauty, and elemental force in which the least of them share suggest a higher right to exist--not granted them by man and not his to take away. In environmental policy as anywhere else we cannot deal in absolutes. Yet we can at least give considerations like these more relative weight in the seventies, and become a more civilized people in a healthier land because of it.


Americans today set high value on the preservation of wildlife. The old notion that "the only good predator is a dead one" is no longer acceptable as we understand that even the animals and birds which sometimes prey on domesticated animals have their own value in maintaining the balance of nature.

The widespread use of highly toxic poisons to kill coyotes and other predatory animals and birds is a practice which has been a source of increasing concern to the American public and to the federal officials responsible for the public lands.

Last year the Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of the Interior appointed an Advisory Committee on Predator Control to study the entire question of predator and related animal control activities. The Committee found that persistent poisons have been applied to range and forest lands without adequate knowledge of their effects on the ecology or their utility in preventing losses to livestock. The large-scale use of poisons for control of predators and field rodents has resulted in unintended losses of other animals and in other harmful effects on natural ecosystems. The Committee concluded that necessary control of coyotes and other predators can be accomplished by methods other than poisons.

Certainly, predators can represent a threat to sheep and some other domesticated animals. But we must use more selective methods of control that will preserve ecological values while continuing to protect livestock.

--I am today issuing an Executive Order [11643] barring the use of poisons for predator control on all public lands. (Exceptions will be made only for emergency situations.) I also propose legislation to shift the emphasis of the current direct Federal predator control program to one of research and technical and financial assistance to the States to help them control predator populations by means other than poisons.


It has only been in recent years that efforts have been undertaken to list and protect those species of animals whose continued existence is in jeopardy. Starting with our national symbol, the bald eagle, we have expanded our concern over the extinction of these animals to include the present list of over 100. We have already found, however, that even the most recent act to protect endangered species, which dates only from 1969, simply does not provide the kind of management tools needed to act early enough to save a vanishing species. In particular, existing laws do not generally allow the Federal Government to control shooting, trapping, or other taking of endangered species.

--I propose legislation to provide for early identification and protection of endangered species. My new proposal would make the taking of endangered species a Federal offense for the first time, and would permit protective measures to be undertaken before a species is so depleted that regeneration is difficult or impossible.


The protection of migratory species, besides preserving wildlife values, exemplifies cooperative environmental effort among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. By treaties entered into among these three countries, migratory species are protected. New species may be added by common agreement between the United States and Mexico.

---I have authorized the Secretary of State, in con]unction with the Secretary o! the Interior, to seek the agreement of the Mexican Government to add 33 new families of birds to the protected list.

Included in the proposal are eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and many of the most attractive species of wading birds. I am hopeful that treaty protection can be accorded them in the near future.



After careful review of the environmental significance of the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida, particularly of the need for water from this source to maintain the unique ecology of Everglades National Park, I directed the Secretary of the Interior to prepare legislation to create the Big Cypress National Fresh Water Reserve. This legislation, which has now been submitted to the Congress, will empower the Federal Government to acquire the requisite legal interest in 547,000 acres of Big Cypress.


The need to provide breathing space and recreational opportunities in our major urban centers is a major concern of this Administration. Two of the Nation's major gateways to the world--New York City and San Francisco--have land nearby with exceptional scenic and recreational potential, and we are moving to make that land available for people to enjoy. In May of 1971, I proposed legislation to authorize a Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey. This proposal would open to a metropolitan region of more than 14 million people a National Recreation Area offering more than 23,000 acres of prime beaches, wildlife preserves, and historical attractions including the nation's oldest operating lighthouse.

On our western shore lies another area uniquely appropriate for making recreational and scenic values more accessible to a metropolitan community.

--I propose legislation to establish a Golden Gate National Recreation Area in and around San Francisco Bay.

This proposal would encompass a number of existing parks, military reservations, and private lands to provide a full range of recreation experiences. Altogether, the area would encompass some 24,000 acres of fine beaches, rugged coasts, and readily accessible urban parklands, extending approximately 30 miles along some of America's most beautiful coastline north and south of Golden Gate Bridge. Angel and Alcatraz Islands in the bay would be within the boundaries of the National Recreation Area, as would a number of properties on the mainland which afford magnificent views of the city, the bay and the ocean. As part of this plan, I am directing that the Presidio at San Francisco be opened for dual military and civilian recreational uses.



Among the most important legacies that we can pass on to future generations is an endowment of parklands and recreational areas that will enrich leisure opportunities and make the beauties of the earth and sea accessible to all Americans. This is the object of our Legacy of Parks program, initiated early in 1971. As part of this program, I directed the Property Review Board to give priority to potential park and recreation areas in its search for alternative uses of federally held real property. The results of this search so far have been most encouraging. To the original 40 properties which I announced in my Environmental Message of 1971 as being well suited for park use, another 111 prospects have been added. And from this total of 151 prospective parklands, 63 have already been made available.

--Today I am pleased to announce that 20 more parcels of Federal land are being made available for park and recreation use.

These newest parcels, combined with those which have been announced over the past year, provide a legacy of 83 parklands for America which comprise 14,585 acres in 31 States and Puerto Rico. The estimated fair market value of these properties is over $56 million. In the months to come, every effort will be made to extend this legacy to all 50 States. The green spaces and natural retreats that we tend to take for granted will not be available for future enjoyment unless we act now to develop and protect them.


One of the first environmental goals I set when I took office was to stimulate the program to identify and recommend to the Congress new wilderness areas. Although this program was behind schedule at that time, I am now able to report that the September, 1974 statutory deadline for reviews can and will be met.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 set aside 54 areas, consisting of about 9.1 million acres, as the nucleus of our wilderness system. Since then, 33 new areas totalling almost 1.2 million acres within National Forests, National Parks, and National Wildlife Refuges have been added to the system. Thirty-one areas totalling about 3.6 million acres, including 18 areas submitted by this Administration, have been proposed to the Congress but have yet to be acted upon. One of the most significant elements of this process has been the active participation by the public in all of its phases. At public wilderness hearings held all across the country, fair consideration has been given to all interests and points of view, with constructive citizen involvement in the decision-making process.

--I am today proposing 18 new wilderness areas which, when approved, will add another 1.3 million acres to the wilderness system.

Eight of these proposals are within the National Forests, four are within National Park areas, and six are in National Wildlife Refuges.

Of these areas, 1.2 million acres would be in the following National Forests: Blue Range National Forest, Arizona and New Mexico; Agua Tibia and Emigrant National Forests, California; Eagles Nest and Weminuche National Forests, Colorado; Mission Mountains National Forest, Montana; Aldo Leopold National Forest, New Mexico; and Glacier National Forest, Wyoming.

A total of 40,000 acres would be in our National Park system in the following locations: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Colorado; Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah; Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona; Colorado National Monument, Colorado.

Finally, a total of 87,000 acres would be in areas administered by the Fish and Wildlife Services of the Department of the Interior in the following locations: St. Marks, National Wildlife Refuge, Florida; Wolf Island, National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia; Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Maine; San Juan Islands, National Wildlife Refuge, Washington; Cape Romain, National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina; and Bosque del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

The year 1972 can bring some of the greatest accomplishment in wilderness preservation since passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. I urge prompt and systematic consideration by the Congress of these 18 new proposals and of the $I currently pending before it. Approval of all 49 additions would bring the system up to a total of over 15 million acres.

Unfortunately, few of these wilderness areas are within easy access of the most populous areas of the United States. The major purpose of my Legacy of Parks program is to bring recreation opportunities closer to the people, and while wilderness is only one such opportunity, it is a very important one. A few of the areas proposed today or previously are in the eastern sections of the country, but the great majority of wilderness areas are found in the West. This of course is where most of our pristine wild areas are. But a greater effort can still be made to see that wilderness recreation values are preserved to the maximum extent possible, in the regions where most of our people live.

--I am therefore directing the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to accelerate the identification of areas in the Eastern United States having wilderness potential.


A recent study by the Department of the Interior estimated that Americans own more than 5 million off-road recreational vehicles--motorcycles, minibikes, trail bikes, snowmobiles, dune-buggies, all-terrain vehicles, and others. The use of these vehicles is dramatically on the increase: data show a three-fold growth between 1967 and 1971 alone.

As the number of off-road vehicles has increased, so has their use on public lands. Too often the land has suffered as a result. Increasingly, Federal recreational lands have become the focus of conflict between the newer motorized recreationist and the traditional hiker, camper, and horseback rider. In the past, Federal land-management agencies have used widely varying approaches to dealing with this conflict. The time has come for a unified Federal policy toward use of off-road vehicles on Federal lands.

--I have today signed an Executive Order [11644] directing the Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior, Army and the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority to develop regulations providing for control over the use of off-road vehicles on Federal lands.

They will designate areas of use and non-use, specify operating conditions that will be necessary to minimize damage to the natural resources of the Federal lands, and ensure compatibility with other recreational uses, taking into account noise and other factors.


We are now growing accustomed to the view of our planet as seen from space--a blue and brown disk shrouded in white patches of clouds. But we do not ponder often enough the striking lesson it teaches about the global reach of environmental imperatives. No matter what else divides men and nations, this perspective should unite them. We must work harder to foster such world environmental consciousness and shared purpose.


To cope with environmental questions that are truly international, we and other nations look to the first world conference of governments ever convened on this subject: the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, in June of this year. This should be a seminal event of the international community's attempt to cope with these serious, shared problems of global concern that transcend political differences.

But efforts to improve the global environment cannot go forward without the means to act.

--To help provide such means, I propose that a voluntary United Nations Fund for the Environment be established, with an initial funding goal of $100 million for the first 5 years.

This Fund would help to stimulate international cooperation on environmental problems by supporting a centralized coordination point for United Nations activities in this field. It would also help to bring new resources to bear on the increasing number of worldwide problems through activities such as monitoring and cleanup of the oceans and atmosphere.

--If such a Fund is established, I will recommend to the Congress that the United States commit itself to provide its [air share of the Fund on a matching basis over the first 5 years.

This level of support would provide start-up assistance under mutually agreed upon terms. As these programs get underway, it may well be that the member nations will decide that additional resources are required. I invite other nations to join with us in this commitment to meaningful action.


Ocean pollution is clearly one of our major international environmental problems. I am gratified that in the past year the Congress has taken several steps to reduce the risks of oil spills on the high seas. However, further congressional action is needed to ratify several pending international conventions and to adopt implementing legislation for the various oil-spill conventions which have been ratified or which are awaiting approval.

Action on these recommendations will complete the first round of international conventions to deal with marine pollution. We have taken initiatives in three international forums to develop a second and more sophisticated round of agreements in this area. We are preparing for a 1973 Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) Conference to draft a convention barring intentional discharges to the sea of oil and hazardous substances from ships. In conjunction with the Law of the Sea Conference scheduled for 1973, we are examining measures to control the effects of developing undersea resources. And, in the preparatory work for the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, progress has been made on an agreement to regulate the ocean dumping of shore-generated wastes, and further work in this area has been scheduled by IMCO. We hope to conclude conventions in each of these areas by 1973.


To many Americans, "environment" means the city streets where they live and work. It is here that a localized but acutely dangerous type of "pollution" has appeared and stirred mounting public concern.

The victims are children: the hazard is lead-based paint. Such paint was applied to the walls of most dwellings prior to the 1950's. When the paint chips and peels from the walls in dilapidated housing, it is frequently eaten by small children. This sometimes results in lead poisoning which can cause permanent mental retardation and occasionally death. We can and must prevent unnecessary loss of life and health from this hazard, which particularly afflicts the poorest segments of our population.

To help meet the lead-paint threat, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare will administer grants and technical assistance to initiate programs in over 50 communities to test children in highrisk areas for lead concentrations. In addition, these programs will support the development of community organization and public education to increase public awareness of this hazard. Other Federal agencies are also active in the effort to combat lead-based paint poisoning. ACTION and other volunteers will assist city governments to help alleviate lead paint hazards. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is engaged in research and other actions to detect and eliminate this hazard.

The resources of the private sector should also be utilized through local laws requiring owners of housing wherever possible to control lead paint hazards.


The starting point of environmental quality is in the hearts and minds of the people. Unless the people have a deep commitment to the new values and a clear understanding of the new problems, all our laws and programs and spending will avail little. The young, quick to commit and used to learning, are gaining the changed outlook fastest of all. Their enthusiasm about the environment spreads with a healthy contagion: their energy in its behalf can be an impressive force for good.

Four youth participation programs of mutual benefit to the young and the Nation are now planned or underway:

Last October, I initiated the Environmental Merit Awards Program. This program, directed by the Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Office of Education, awards national recognition to successful student projects leading to environmental understanding or improvement. Qualifications for the awards are determined by a local board consisting of secondary school students, faculty, and representatives of the local community. Already more than 2,000 high schools, representing all 50 States, have registered in the program.

The Department of Agriculture's expanded field scout demonstration program, designed to permit more effective pest control with less reliance on chemical pesticides, will employ thousands of high school and college students. These young people will be scouting cotton and tobacco pests in the coming growing season, and the program will be expanded to other crops in future years.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently initiated in its Seattle regional office a pilot program using young people to assist the agency in many of its important tasks, including monitoring. EPA is working with State and local pollution control agencies to identify monitoring needs. ACTION and the youth training programs are providing the manpower. If this initial program proves successful, the concept will be expanded.

ACTION volunteers and young people employed through the Neighborhood Youth Corps, Job Corps, and college work-study programs will work with city governments to help alleviate lead paint hazards, gaining experience in community health work as they give urgently needed aid to inner-city families.

Young people working on environmental projects, learning the skills necessary for a particular job, must also understand how their work relates to the environmental process as a whole. Thus, all of these activities must be supplemented by continued improvement in many aspects of environmental education to help all of our citizens, both young and old, develop a better awareness of man's relation to his environment. In my first Environmental Quality Report, I stressed the importance of improving the Nation's "environmental literacy." This goal remains as important as ever, and our progress toward it must continue.


Our destiny is one: this the environmental awakening has taught America in these first years of the seventies. Let us never forget, though, that it is not a destiny of fear, but of promise. As I stated last August in transmitting the Second Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality: "The work of environmental improvement is a task for all our people . . . The achievement of that goal will challenge the creativity of our science and technology, the enterprise and adaptability of our industry, the responsiveness and sense of balance of our political and legal institutions, and the resourcefulness and the capacity of this country to honor those human values upon which the quality of our national life must ultimately depend." We shall rise to the challenge of solving our environmental problems by enlisting the creative energy of all of our citizens in a cause truly worthy of the best that each can bring to it.

While we share our environmental problems with all the people of the world, our industrial might, which has made us the leader among nations in terms of material well-being, also gives us the responsibility of dealing with environmental problems first among the nations. We can be proud that our solutions and our performance will become the measure for others climbing the ladder of aspirations and difficulties; we can set our sights on a standard that will lift their expectations of what man can do.

The pursuit of environmental quality will require courage and patience. Problems that have been building over many years will not yield to facile solutions. But I do not doubt that Americans have the wit and the will to win--to fulfill our brightest vision of what the future can be.



February 8, 1972.

Note: On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing on the message. Participants in the news briefing were Rogers G. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior, Russell E. Train, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality, and William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency.

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress Outlining the 1972 Environmental Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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