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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 29, 2001
Remarks by the President at Camp Pendleton, California
9:00 A.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. General Hagee, thank you very much. Thank you for your warm welcome here at the White House -- (audience interruption) -- Thank you. Behave yourself. (Laughter.)
General Hanlon, thank you very much. And General Conway, I appreciate so very much you greeting me. It's an honor to be here with Colonel Christian, Sergeant Major Royce Coffee, Sergeant Major N.G. Markiewicz, and the fine troops of Camp Pendleton.
I appreciate so very much members of the United States Congress who are here, stalwarts when it comes to sound defense spending, strong advocates for tax relief, education reform -- Congressman Mary Bono, Duke Cunningham, Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa, and Dana Rohrabacher. Thank you so much for coming here.
It is a real great privilege from me to be here today. I've had a heck of a week, particularly since I've been able to spend a lot of time around America's military forces. Last Wednesday, I attended a reenlistment ceremony at the White House, where we swore in a group of sailors and Marine airmen to a new term. Two days later I had the honor of giving the commencement address at Annapolis at the Naval Academy. And yesterday I had the high privilege of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery. I spent a lot of quality time with a lot of quality people -- the people who wear the uniform in the United States military. (Applause.) The men and women who serve and sacrifice so Americans can sleep in peace, knowing that freedom is in good hands.
I've been looking forward to this trip, and looking forward to being able to extend a proper Marine Corps greeting -- Oo-rah!
AUDIENCE: Oo-rah! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: There's no higher honor than to serve as Commander-in-Chief. It's also a high honor to be able to come to Camp Pendleton, a place that helps turn new recruits into Leathernecks, a place that serves as home to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and to one of America's oldest and most decorated units -- the 1st Marine Division.
Camp Pendleton serves as the launching pad for what Marines do best -- to deploy rapidly so you can be the first on the scene wherever freedom and America's interests are threatened. As the stone markers in our midst remind us, Marines have sailed from Camp Pendleton to fight at Guadalcanal, at Okinawa, and Inchon. Marines from Camp Pendleton fought in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. Marines from Camp Pendleton helped liberate Kuwait. Today, you carry forward this proud tradition, ready to answer when America calls.
Because you are Marines, you are often asked to perform the most difficult and dangerous missions. Because you are Marines, you not only accept this challenge, you embrace it-- not for glory, and not for self, but for God, country, Corps and your fellow Marines.
I respect your service. I appreciate your sacrifice. And I know what you contribute to our nation. In a world of fast-changing threats, you give us stability. Because of you, America's secure, and the march of freedom continues.
I know how hard your work is. I know that your frequent deployments are hard on you and hard on your families. Marines pride themselves on traveling light and fighting hard. But here at home, you and your families deserve something better. You deserve our nation's full support. And with this administration, you will get it. (Applause.)
The first budget I submitted to Congress contains a $1.4 billion military pay raise. That's on top of the pay raises that Congress recently passed. It provides $450 million in new funds to improve military housing and $3.9 billion to improve military health benefits. After all your country receives from you, you must receive better housing, better pay and better health. (Applause.)
You're entitled to a defense budget that meets our current needs and our future obligations. And you're entitled to a Commander-in-Chief who sets a clear goal, a clear vision for our military. And that goal is to be well-equipped and well-trained, to be able to fight and win war, and, therefore, prevent wars from happening in the first place. (Applause.)
No one can come here without being struck by the physical beauty. Marines are good stewards of our Southern California coastline. You're also practicing good stewardship by the way you're using -- and not using -- the supply of energy in California.
The federal government is the single biggest user of electricity in California. On May 3rd, I ordered all federal agencies to take extra steps to conserve energy. And the Department of Defense immediately committed itself to reducing its electricity consumption by 10 percent during peak hours. I'm pleased to report that the military and federal agencies are exceeding expectations.
And Camp Pendleton deserves special credit, and I am here to give you special credit. I congratulate you for seeking extra conservation savings over the 10 percent. And that's going above and beyond the call of duty. And I salute you. Altogether, we estimate that the federal conservation efforts will save the state 76 megawatts per hour during peak use periods, when power is most needed -- 76 megawatts per hour is enough electricity for 140,000 people during peak demand periods. That's as many people who live in Pasadena, California.
Over the past 30 years, Americans have made steady conservation progress. If we still use energy the way we did in 1972, we'd be using 74 percent more energy today than we actually do. A new car uses about 60 percent as much gasoline as a car made in 1972. A new refrigerator uses about only 30 percent as much electricity as a 1972 refrigerator.
Yet this conservation progress slowed in the 1990s, and more than 40 of the 100-plus recommendations in my administration's energy plan are intended to protect the environment, help hard hit communities, and revitalize our conservation efforts all across the country.
We have other initiatives, as well. Our nation needs to modernize its networks for moving energy from the power plant to the outlet on the wall. Again, you in California know that well. For almost 20 years, it's been clear that what's called "Path 15," the stretch of transmission line connecting the power grids of Northern and Southern California, needed to be expanded and modernized. And now we're taking action to get the job done.
Energy Secretary Spence Abraham is speeding approval of the necessary permits and easements. We're going to unplug the Path 15 bottleneck. We're dancing toward an interstate electric grid to match our interstate highways and interstate phone systems.
Rising energy prices are a challenge for everyone. I believe you will find my tax relief plan will provide some help -- a tax relief plan that is worth $100 billion to the consumers all across America, including those who wear the uniform.
But for some Americans and some Californians, high energy costs are more than a challenge, they're an emergency, and our government must respond. In February, my budget -- I asked Congress for $300 million in aid for low-income people struggling with rising energy bills. Today, I'm announcing I'll ask Congress for an additional $150 million in low-income energy assistance, and I hope Congress acts quickly.
Energy debates sometimes throw off some sparks. But this is no time for harsh rhetoric. It's certainly no time for name-calling. It's time for leadership. It's time for results. It's time to put politics aside and focus on the best interests of the people.
This is an administration that's focused on results. We're going to work together -- the federal government, the state government, the military and all the citizens. Speaking of citizens, you're the best of citizens. You commit your lives to our country. You dedicate yourself to something greater than yourself.
Whatever is asked of you and your fellow Marines, you have given, as Abraham Lincoln said, "The last full measure of devotion." As I look in the eyes and shake the firm grips of your fellow Marines, it reminds me the Marine Corps is in good hands, and so is our country.
Thank you so very much for your hospitality and Semper Fi. (Applause.)
END 9:11 A.M. PDT