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Statement Announcing the Creation of the Environmental Quality Council and the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality

May 29, 1969

"THE CONSERVATION of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life," Theodore Roosevelt said in 1907. When men talked about conservation in his time, they usually singled out the wild lands, plant and animal life, and valuable minerals, for in these areas they saw the threat of scarcity. Resources such as the air or the water or the countryside itself were of less concern, for the supply and the quality of such things seemed invulnerable.

I am sure that Roosevelt and his associates of sixty and more years ago would be most surprised if they knew that in our time technological development threatens the availability of good air and good water, of open space and even quiet neighborhoods. Yet that is exactly what is happening. Each day we receive new evidence of the declining quality of the American environment.

Because the quality of American environment is threatened as it has not been threatened before in our history, I am creating today, by Executive order, the Environmental Quality Council. This new body will be a Cabinet-level advisory group which will provide the focal point for this administration's efforts to protect all of our natural resources.

The Council, the structure of which in some respects parallels that of the National Security Council and the Urban Affairs Council, will have as its Executive Secretary the Science Adviser to the President, Dr. Lee A. DuBridge. My Executive order also creates a 15-member Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality, which will be chaired by Laurance S. Rockefeller.

I am asking the new Council, with the assistance of the Citizens' Advisory Committee, to examine the full range of variables which affect environmental quality. I expect the group to review existing policies and programs and to suggest ways of improving them. Its members must project the impact of new technologies and encourage scientific developments which will help us protect our resources.

I am hopeful that the Environmental Quality Council will foster greater cooperation in this problem area between our Government and the governments of other nations, between the various levels of American government, and between governmental and relevant nongovernmental organizations.

Finally, I would suggest that this new body must anticipate new problems even as it focuses on present ones. It is not enough that it provide answers to the questions we are asking today. It must also pose the new questions which will face us tomorrow.

The deterioration of the environment is in large measure the result of our inability to keep pace with progress. We have become victims of our own technological genius. But I am confident that the same energy and skill which gave rise to these problems can also be marshaled for the purpose of conquering them. Together we have damaged the environment and together we can improve it.

As I said during last fall's campaign: "We need a high standard of living, but we also need a high quality of life .... We need a strategy of quality for the seventies to match the strategy of quantity of the past." I am pleased to announce the creation of the Environmental Quality Council, for I believe it will provide us with that strategy and will give us the means for implementing it.

Note: Executive Order 11472 established the Environmental Quality Council and the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality.

Also released was a news briefing by Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, Science Adviser to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology, and Dr. John L. Buckley, staff member of the Science Advisory Committee, concerning the establishment of the Environmental Quality Council.

An announcement concerning a report to the Council on university contributions in solving environmental problems and an announcement of a review by the Council of a report by the Commission on Pesticides on the regulation of pesticides are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, PP. 1558, 1632).

The statement was released at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Richard Nixon, Statement Announcing the Creation of the Environmental Quality Council and the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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