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Statement by the President in Response to Science Advisory Committee Report on Pollution of Air, Soil, and Waters.

November 06, 1965

I AM PLEASED at the thoroughness with which the panel has investigated pollution. This report will surely provide the basis for action on many fronts.

We have made much progress. Legislative action by the 89th Congress--the Water Quality Act of 1965, amendments to the Clean Air Act, the Highway Beautification Act--has moved us along the way to a cleaner world. Now we intend to move much more rapidly. The fact that there are more than 100 recommendations in the report is evidence that there is much to be done.

I am asking the appropriate departments and agencies to consider the recommendations and report to me on the ways in which we can move to cope with the problems cited in the report.

Ours is a nation of affluence. But the technology that has permitted our affluence spews out vast quantities of wastes and spent products that pollute our air, poison our waters, and even impair our ability to feed ourselves. At the same time, we have crowded together into dense metropolitan areas where concentration of wastes intensifies the problem. Pollution now is one of the most pervasive problems of our society. With our numbers increasing, and with our increasing urbanization and industrialization, the flow of pollutants to our air, soil, and waters is increasing. This increase is so rapid that our present efforts in managing pollution are barely enough to stay even, surely not enough to make the improvements that are needed.

As we look ahead to the increasing challenges of pollution we will need increased basic research in a variety of specific areas, including soil pollution and the effects of air pollutants on man. I intend to give high priority to increasing the numbers and quality of the scientists and engineers working on problems related to the control and management of pollution.

Note: The report of the Environmental Pollution Panel, President's Science Advisory Committee, dated November 1965, is entitled "Restoring the Quality of Our Environment" (Government Printing Office, 317 PP.).

The President's statement was made public as part of a White House release summarizing highlights of the report. The release stated that a panel of 14 outstanding physicians, scientists, and engineers, chaired by John W. Tukey of Princeton University and Bell Telephone Laboratories, and assisted by 11 subpanels, had spent 15 months in preparation of the report.

Significant findings of the Committee, the release noted, include the following:

Pollution is an inevitable consequence of an advanced society, but we need not suffer from the intensity and extent of pollution we now see around us. If we are to manage our pollution as we should, we must give more nearly the same attention to how we dispose of our waste materials as to how we gather and transform our raw materials. Society must take the position that no citizen, no industry, no municipality has the right to pollute.

We must rely on economic incentives to discourage pollution. Under this plan special taxes would be levied against polluters.

Carbon dioxide is being added to the earth's atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at the rate of 6 billion tons a year. By the year 2000 there will be about 25 percent more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at present. Exhausts and other releases from automobiles contribute a major share to the generation of smog.

Water pollution control decisions should not be based entirely on health considerations. Present water treatment practices, if vigorously applied, appear adequate to permit our use of almost all waters for domestic purposes.

Shallow waters of our coasts and estuaries are essential in the life cycles of the fish and shellfish that provide nearly 60 percent of our total seafoods. The filling in of these shallow waters must be regarded as an important kind of pollution.

The manpower, knowledge, and facilities now at hand are insufficient for the complete task of pollution abatement and management. Large numbers of well trained technicians, engineers, economists, and scientists will be needed (1 Weekly Comp. Pres. Does., p. 476).

On November 17, 1965, the President signed Executive Order 11258 "Prevention, Control, and Abatement of Water Pollution by Federal Activities" (1 Weekly Comp. Pres. Does., p. 506; 30 F.R. 14483; 3 CFR, 1965 Supp., p. 188).
The statement was released at Austin, Tex.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President in Response to Science Advisory Committee Report on Pollution of Air, Soil, and Waters. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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