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For Immediate Release
April 24, 2004

President's Radio Address

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I celebrated Earth Day by traveling to Maine and Florida to visit some of this nation's vital wetlands. From the Gulf of Maine, to the Gulf of Mexico, Americans are blessed to live amid many incredible wonders of nature.

We no longer take those wonders for granted. We understand our responsibilities to the natural world to conserve and make better what we have been given. Wetlands are among our most important natural resources. They provide a habitat for wildlife, trap pollution, reduce the impact of floods and provide recreational opportunities.

For many years, our nation has sought to slow the loss of our wetlands. We've made tremendous progress. And on Earth Day, I was proud to announce a new goal: Instead of just limiting our losses, we will expand the wetlands of America.

To accomplish this objective, my administration will work to restore, improve and protect at least 3 million acres of wetlands over the next five years. This new wetlands policy reflects an enduring national commitment, carried forward by both parties, to protecting the environment.

We're taking action to ensure cleaner air. Since Congress passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, major air pollutants have been reduced by nearly 50 percent. My administration is building on that progress by implementing smarter ways to raise standards and improve air quality. The clean air interstate rule, based on the Clear Skies legislation I sent to Congress last year, will reduce the major causes of ozone and fine particles by 70 percent. This rule employs a market-based approach called "cap and trade" to reduce air pollution that crosses state borders. We're also completing an important new rule to remove sulfur from diesel fuels. Just as regulations to remove lead from gasoline have helped cut pollution in the 1970s, our new diesel rule will reduce harmful emissions from generators, tractors, and others diesel vehicles.

Finally, we are regulating mercury emissions from power plants for the first time ever. Under our new proposal mercury emissions will be cut by approximately 70 percent.

All these rules are based on sound science and good economics, and they will help every American breathe cleaner air.

We also have a responsibility to be good stewards of the land. Two years ago, I signed legislation to clean up more of the abandoned and polluted industrial sites known as brownfields. Between 2001 and 2003, we restored over 1,000 brownfields to usable condition, more than were restored in the previous seven years. Our efforts have opened usable land for small businesses and residents in hundreds of communities across the country, and created more than 25,000 jobs in clean up and redevelopment.

Another critical environmental priority is the health of our nation's forests. In recent years, millions of acres of forests, rangeland, and communities have been destroyed by wildfires. So last December, I signed the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to reduce the risk of fire, save lives and property, and improve the health of our forests. The law opens millions of acres of forest land to vital thinning projects. And by expediting the environmental review process, and directing courts to consider long-term threats to forest health, the law allows us to protect more of our nation's precious forests.

In the past three decades, America has made great strides in honoring the ideal of conservation, and living by high standards of stewardship. My administration's environmental efforts uphold that legacy. In the past four years, America's air, land, and water have all gotten cleaner. Our new proposals build on that progress and help us advance toward our national goal of a cleaner, safer, healthier environment.

Thank you for listening.


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