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Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy Announcing Natural Resources Advisory Committee, Washington, DC

September 20, 1960

Senator John F. Kennedy today announced the establishment of the Kennedy-Johnson Natural Resources Advisory Committee and the appointment of the committee's director, Representative Frank E. Smith of Mississippi. Senator Kennedy said:

Vigorous action is needed if we are to conserve and develop America's natural resources. An aggressive, affirmative policy in this field will be one of the major goals of my administration. I am, accordingly, very pleased to announce the establishment of a natural resources advisory committee to aid me in the presidential campaign and to submit plans for action by my administration.

A distinguished group of Americans active in the conservation movement and in the various resources development fields has consented to serve as the advisory council for the committee. Active members of the committee will be named from every State in the Union to insure that there will be presented to me a full picture of all the varied needs of our great country.

Preservation of our natural resources is an investment in America's future that has been disastrously neglected by the present administration. A revitalized resources program will be needed in the years ahead to make up for the shortcomings of the past few years.

The total demand for water in the United States is increasing rapidly, while the available supply is decreasing at an alarming rate, due to heavy usage, continued wastage, depletion, pollution, and inadequate development. The conjunction of these two trends, if allowed to happen, spells crisis - a crisis characterized by extreme scarcity, widespread hardships and economic stagnation.

Happily, the means are available to avert this crisis if we muster the courage and intelligence to use them. The keys to the solution of the Nation's water problems are capital, technology, organization, and a proper concern for the public welfare. We possess the first three in abundance, but for 8 years the Republican administration has refused to use them for the general good.

The record of the Republican administration is one of callous indifference to, and cynical betrayal of, the public interest. It has manifested no awareness of the problem, either its magnitude, complexity, or urgency. It has denied the historic, constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government in this vital area.

It has sought to delegate Federal responsibility to local interests and to private business corporations on the pretext that they can and will do everything needful to secure adequate development of water resources. It has repudiated the well-established and demonstrably successful principle of multiple-purpose river basin development for the outmoded, inefficient, single-purpose approach. It has refused to provide adequate capital, both for Federal projects and for grants-in-aid to State and local projects, ruthlessly invoking the Presidential veto to frustrate the will of Congress in respect to such appropriations. It has failed to support adequately such intimately related activities as soil conservation, scientific forestry, land-use management, small watershed protection, wildlife management, and pollution control, all of which are essential elements in a comprehensive development program.

Not content with mere negativism, or do-nothingism, however, this Republican administration has aggressively sought to destroy public rights in water resources by giveaways, grants of privilege, and subsidies to private monopolistic corporations.

This record of betrayal and failure would have been much worse had not an alert Democratic Congress intervened to expose and frustrate the attempts of the administration to sabotage public rights.

The challenge to the American people is clear. We must repudiate the disastrous policy of negativism and destruction of public rights now in operation under Republican auspices. We must reassert the historic, constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government for development of water resources in the general interest. We must initiate and carry forward a bold and comprehensive national program to meet the needs of the people in every section of the country. We must mobilize the necessary capital, scientific knowledge, and organizational skills to do the job properly. We must actively support, with technical assistance and grants-in-aid, the efforts of State and local governments and of farmer cooperatives to develop water projects within their respective areas. The national goal should be to maximize the general welfare by the complete scientific development of our water resources for all beneficial purposes.

Our natural resources are the birthright of all of our people, but they have been wantonly neglected by the Republican administration. We cannot afford to further postpone the hydroelectric, reclamation, flood control, and navigation projects essential to an expanding economy. We shall not approach the problem with the hopeless philosophy of "no new starts." We must halt water and air pollution through vigorous programs instead of rejecting responsibility in this field.

The recreation areas of our parks and shorelines, forests, and wilderness, are part of our priceless natural heritage. I believe the American people want a national policy that will conserve these resources and at the same time provide for the utilization of our minerals, water, timber, and grazing lands for the sound development of our economy.

Our great outdoor recreation areas dwindle away with each day of neglect. We must preserve and protect them for all of the American people.

To assist Representative Smith, the committee director, Senator Kennedy also today announced the appointment of the committee's advisory council, including the following outstanding leaders in conservation and natural resources fields:

Representative Wayne Aspinall of Colorado.

Mrs. Frank Ball, Sr., of Virginia.

Representative John Blatnik of Minnesota.

Mr. James K. Carr of California.

Mr. Oscar Chapman of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Gordon Clapp of New York City.

Mr. C. Girard Davidson of Oregon.

Dr. Horace M. Gray of Illinois.

Mr. Kenneth Holum of South Dakota.

Representative Robert E. Jones of Alabama.

Senator Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma.

Governor Stephen McNichols of Colorado.

Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington.

Senator James Murray of Montana.

Mr. Paul L. Phillips of New York.

Mrs. Robert Richman of Oregon.

Dr. Charles Stoddard of Wisconsin.

Mr. Rodney De Villiers of New Mexico.

Mr. John S. Wilder of Tennessee.

Mr. William Zimmerman of Washington, D.C.

John F. Kennedy, Statement of Senator John F. Kennedy Announcing Natural Resources Advisory Committee, Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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