THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 14, 1999
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE NATION
The Oval Office
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Throughout our history, American families
have spent the summer enjoying the natural beauty of our nation's waterways.
Today more Americans than ever are spending their vacations by our beaches,
our lakes, our rivers. And it's important to ensure that the water our
families swim and fish is as clean and safe as we can possibly make it.
Clean water is the most simple necessity of our lives, and we almost
take it for granted. But 25 years ago, many of our waterways were so dirty
they actually posed a serious threat to public health. Then Congress passed
the Clean Water Act and we began the long process of reclaiming our waterways
and preserving them for the future.
For more than six and a half years now, Vice President Gore and I have
worked to continue that legacy. We've strengthened the Safe Drinking Water
Act, helping communities upgrade water treatment plants. We demanded more
industries publicly disclose the chemicals they release into the air and
water. We required water systems across the country to give customers
regular reports on the safety of the water flowing from their taps. We
strengthened protections for vital wetlands. And last year, we launched
a new Clean Water Action Plan to help finish the job the Clean Water Act
started 25 years ago.
We can all be proud of the progress we've made so far, but when 40 percent
of our nation's surveyed waterways are still too polluted for swimming
or fishing, we know we have to do more. Like many Americans, I was shocked
to learn that several young children became gravely ill last week after
swimming in a lake that may have been contaminated with e. coli bacteria.
That is simply unacceptable. Parents have a right to expect that our recreational
waters are safe for their children to swim in. All Americans have a right
to expect we're doing all we can to clean up our waterways.
So today, I'm pleased to announce that we're taking new action to ensure
that every river, lake and bay in America is clean and safe. The EPA will
work in partnership with states to assess the state of all our waterways
-- to identify the most polluted waters, and to develop strong, enforceable
plans to restore them to health. These steps will chart a course to clean
up 20,000 waterways, and ensure that they remain safe for generations
But just as we're taking new action to preserve our environment for
future generations, the Republican leadership in Congress is laying plans
to roll back more than a quarter century of bipartisan progress in public
health and environmental protection.
Without explanation or excuse, the Republican spending bills slash important
environmental initiatives, like our Land's Legacy program -- to preserve
natural treasures, farms, urban parks, wetlands and other greenspaces.
They short-change vital research and development programs that address
the threat of global warming, that help us to develop alternative fuels
in vehicles that pollute less, and to make the maximum use of available
energy conservation technologies. And their spending bills are also loaded
with unrelated provisions that would sacrifice crucial environmental protections
for the sake of special interests. I vetoed bills before because they
contain such anti-environmental riders and, if necessary, I'm prepared
to do it again.
The budget of the Republican leadership isn't simply turning back the
clock on environmental protection. It's also turning its back on six years
of fiscal responsibility and prudent investment -- a policy that's produced
the strongest economy in a generation, the longest peacetime expansion
in our history, the largest surplus in our history. Their budget plan,
because it contains such a large tax cut, would actually threaten our
environment because it would require big cuts in environmental enforcement,
letting toxic waste dumps fester, even shutting down national parks. In
addition to that, we'd have across-the-board cuts in everything from education
to medical research to defense, and they wouldn't add a day to the life
of the Social Security or Medicare trust fund, nor would they pay off
Our budget continues to invest in the environment, and education, and
medical research and defense. It pays off the debt in 15 years for the
first time since 1835, and it lengthens the life of the Social Security
and Medicare trust funds. It's a good budget, and it also provides for
a modest tax cut.
We have proved time and again that we don't have to choose between growing
our economy or preserving our environment. We can do both with discipline.
So again, I ask Congress, let's put politics aside and continue the common-sense
course that is already leading us toward a cleaner environment, a stronger
economy and a stronger America in the 21st century. Let's work together
to give our children the gift of a better, healthier world.
Thanks for listening.
Click here for
more information on restoring America's rivers, lakes and coastal waters.