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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 17, 2008
President Bush Welcomes Recipients of the President's Environmental Youth Awards to White House
10:03 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Please be seated -- and welcome to the Rose Garden. And thanks for bringing such good weather. (Laughter.)
Laura and I are thrilled you're here, and we are thrilled to honor young Americans who are helping their communities by safeguarding the environment. I'm really pleased that Steve is with us, too, thanks for coming; and Debbie, thanks for being here.
I want to welcome your parents and your sponsors, and I know they're incredibly proud of you. I appreciate the dedication that you've shown to improve neighborhoods. I really thank the fact that you're a person who's willing to be a responsible citizen and take action.
I'm pleased to have all the regional administrators here. It's good to see friends from around the country. Thanks for coming. Thanks for serving the country.
I appreciate the fact that you know that we live in a country of unbelievable splendor and beauty, and no matter which state we call home, we can always find the work of the Almighty in our state. And today, we honor 36 young men and women who have devoted their time, energy, and creativity to being good stewards of that creation. And we appreciate the work you're doing to preserve our beauty for generations to come.
The students here today come from all across the country. And your accomplishments are as diverse as your home states. Steve will read out the accomplishments, but I'll just touch on a few.
First, for people from New York, who collected used books that would have ended up in landfills and donated them to schools and nursing homes and homeless shelters.
People here from Massachusetts, who worked with local fishermen to switch from using lead weights to using substances that didn't have the potential to poison local birds.
Virginia, the good folks from Virginia used recycled electronic equipment so it wouldn't end up polluting the environment. Makes a lot of sense; it's a rational plan.
Good people from Tennessee, who led hundreds of members of your community to switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs -- just like Laura insisted we did here at the White House. (Laughter and applause.)
How about the good folks from Washington state, who worked with the school district and helped save more than half a million dollars by encouraging teachers to reduce their energy use in the classroom.
These are practical ways to help protect our environment. And one way to thank you is to have the Administrator present awards to you. You set a great example for people around the country and you set a great example for the government -- we're focused on conserving and protecting our environment. I don't know if you know this or not, but in -- we created the Northwestern Hawaii Island Marine National Monument, which is the largest single conservation area in our nation's history and the largest protected marine area in the world. And we did so because there are more than 7,000 species in the monument, and a quarter of them exist nowhere else on the Earth. And the good news is, Laura went over to dedicate the monument and did a fabulous job.
We're working hard to protect our wildlife. Through the principle of cooperative conservation, which means we bring together different stakeholders -- conservationists and sportsmen and local leaders, and federal, state, and tribal authorities -- to protect species that are at risk.
We're protecting and strengthening our National Park System. One way to dedicate ourselves to conservation is to take that which is already in existence and make it better. And so last year I announced the National Park Centennial Initiative, which is a great plan to enhance our National Parks during the decade leading up to their 100th anniversary in 2016. This is an initiative that's going to allow the park system to hire more park rangers and increase the use of technology and upgrade its facilities and its historic buildings. I'm looking forward to working with Congress to make sure this effort is fully funded.
Finally, we're working to ensure that America can develop alternative energy sources and develop new technologies so we can address global climate change without harming the economy. And I believe we can do both. I believe we can be good stewards of the environment, and I believe we can grow our economy -- which we're going to have to do to be able to afford the technologies necessary to change.
So yesterday I announced an important national goal -- which is stopping the growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025. It's a goal we can achieve. It's important to set realistic goals, and then work hard to achieve those goals.
The key to keeping -- making this work is to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the country and to develop the new technologies that will allow us to utilize cleaner, more efficient energy sources -- which, by the way, will have the beneficial effect of becoming -- making us less dependent on oil, particularly oil that comes from parts of the world where the people may not exactly like us. So in other words, we're working on our national security and our economic security, and at the same time having the beneficial effect of being wise stewards of the environment.
But today, you're tired of hearing about an old guy speak, we want to hear the stories of young people -- young people who will be the future leaders of the country, young people who have laid out a strategy as to how to protect their local communities and have done so.
So I welcome you here, and ask Laura and Steve to join me here on the podium to present the awards. Congratulations, welcome to the Rose Garden and thanks for coming. (Applause.)
END 10:14 A.M. EDT