"America and the world share this common goal: we must foster economic growth in ways that protect our environment. We must encourage growth that will provide a better life for citizens, while protecting the land, the water, and the air that sustain life."
President George W. Bush
Announcement of the Clear Skies & Global Climate Change Initiatives
Silver Spring, Maryland, February 14, 2002
Over the last 30 years, our Nation has made great progress in providing for a better environment and improving public health. In that time, our economy grew 164 percent, our population grew 38 percent, and our energy consumption increased 42 percent. Yet air pollution from the six major pollutants decreased by 48 percent. In 2002, 94 percent of the total population was served by community water systems that met all health-based standards. This number is up from 79 percent in 1993.
The Bush Administration is focused on achieving meaningful results - making our air, water, and land cleaner. We need to employ the best science and data to inform our decision-making, and our policies should encourage innovation and the development of new, cleaner technologies. We should continue to build on America's ethic of stewardship and personal responsibility through education and volunteer opportunities, and in our daily lives. Opportunities for environmental improvements are not limited to Federal Government actions - states, tribes, local communities, and individuals must be included.
The President's initiatives and accomplishments reflect that overarching philosophy. Since taking office, the Bush Administration has been:
Cleaning and Redeveloping Hazardous Waste Sites
- Brownfields Program
Fulfilling a commitment he made when he ran for President, President Bush signed historic bipartisan brownfields legislation in 2002, accelerating the cleanup of abandoned industrial sites, known as brownfields, to better protect public health, create jobs, and revitalize communities.
- Accelerated Department of Energy Nuclear Waste Site Cleanups
The Department of Energy (DOE) is significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to clean up waste sites from our Cold War legacy. When President Bush took office, DOE had been working with a 70-year timetable to complete cleanup at a cost of $192 billion. DOE states its new reforms will accelerate completion by 35 years, reducing the estimated cost to taxpayers by $50 billion. For example, the Hanford site in Washington State is on target to be cleaned up to the same standards 35 years ahead of schedule in 2035 for roughly $45 billion - saving taxpayers nearly $23 billion.
Promoting Land Conservation and Stewardship
- Healthy Forests Initiative
On December 3, 2003, President Bush signed legislation implementing key provisions of his Healthy Forests Initiative. The President's initiative is helping restore the health and vitality of forests and rangelands, and helping reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires by prioritizing hazardous fuels reduction projects. Since 2001, Interior and Agriculture have removed hazardous fuels from nearly 10 million acres, roughly twice the previous pace. This is benefiting communities and wildlife habitats.
- New Strategy For Increasing Wetlands Acres and Quality
On Earth Day 2004, the President announced an aggressive new national goal - moving beyond a policy of "no net loss" of wetlands to achieve an overall increase of wetlands in America each year. The President's goal is to create, improve, and protect at least three million wetland acres over the next five years in order to increase overall wetland acres and quality. To meet this goal, the President is calling on Congress to pass his FY 2005 budget request, which includes $4.4 billion for conservation programs that include funding for wetlands - an increase of $1.5 billion (53 percent) over FY 2001.
- National Parks - Restoring the Quality of Our Cultural, Natural, and Historic Resources
The President is fulfilling his commitment to address the park maintenance backlog. To meet his commitment of $4.9 billion of funds through 2006 for park maintenance and construction, the President has secured $2.8 billion, and proposed $1.1 billion in his FY 2005 budget, for a total of $3.9 billion to date. With these funds, the NPS has completed or undertaken over 4,000 projects to improve facilities for visitors to our national parks. At $1.8 billion, the National Park Service operations budget is 20 percent higher than when President Bush took office and has more funds per employee, per acre, and per visitor than any time in its history. Additionally, for the first time in history, the National Park Service will have a full facility condition assessment and a facility condition index to prioritize ongoing maintenance needs and avoid the type of backlog created in the 1990s.
- Helping America's Farmers Conserve Their Lands
President Bush supported and signed into law a Farm Bill that enhances conservation and environmental stewardship. Under this Administration, funding has nearly doubled for these effective programs. The Farm Bill conservation programs are providing more than $40 billion over a decade to restore millions of acres of wetlands, protect habitats, conserve water, and improve streams and rivers near working farms and ranches.
- Increased Funding for Cooperative Conservation
To help achieve the President's vision for cooperative conservation, the President's 2005 budget includes $507 million for cooperative conservation programs at Department of the Interior, an increase of over $371 million, or 270 percent, above 2000. As part of this effort, the President has created three new programs - a Landowner Incentive Program, Private Stewardship Grant Program, and Conservation Challenge Cost-Share Program. Through these programs, the Bush Administration has removed invasive exotic species, planted native grasses, restored millions of acres of habitat, and conserved limited water resources to benefit fish and other species.
- More Opportunities for Hunting and Fishing
The Bush Administration has opened more than 60 new hunting and fishing programs at National Wildlife Refuges. The Department of the Interior has executed one agreement with 17 major sportsmen's group to improve hunting and fishing access to Federal lands and another agreement to improve access for disabled sportsmen.
Improving Our Air Quality
- Clear Skies Initiative
President Bush's initiative, which has been introduced in Congress, would dramatically improve air quality by cutting power plants' emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury, by approximately 70 percent, more than any other Presidential clean air initiative. This historic proposal, based on the successful Acid Rain Trading Program, will bring cleaner air to Americans faster, more reliably, and more cost-effectively than programs under current law.
- Clean Air Interstate Rule
The President directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to announce a proposal similar to the Clear Skies Initiative which would also require power plants to make the steepest emissions cuts in over a decade. The Clean Air Interstate Rule addresses pollution that moves from one state to another. It will require power plants to substantially reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). When fully implemented, SO2 emissions will be cut by nearly 70 percent, and NOx emissions will be cut by approximately 65 percent.
- Clean Air Mercury Rule
For the first time ever, the Bush Administration will regulate mercury emissions from power plants. Emissions cuts will be achieved by using either a proven market-based, cap-and-trade approach that will better assure compliance and enforceability, or a command-and-control approach utilizing the Clean Air Act Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) program.
- Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule
In May 2004, the Bush Administration finalized a rule that will dramatically reduce pollution from heavy-duty diesel engines used in construction, agricultural, and industrial equipment. This will prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 8,900 hospitalizations, 15,000 heart attacks, 6,000 children's asthma-related emergency room visits, 280,000 respiratory problems in children, and a million work days lost due to illness once the rule is fully implemented. Soot and NOx emissions will decrease by more than 90 percent by 2014, and the sulfur content of diesel fuel will be cut 99 percent by 2010.
Implementing a Realistic, Growth-Oriented Approach to Global Climate Change
- 18 Percent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Intensity
President Bush has committed America to meet the challenge of long-term global climate change by reducing the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output by 18 percent by 2012. This commitment will set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, as science justifies, to stop and then reverse the growth of emissions.
- $4.1 Billion in Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy and Hybrid and Fuel-Cell Vehicles
The President has called for tax incentives totaling $4.1 billion through 2009 to spur the purchase of clean, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies, such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, residential solar heating systems, renewable energy produced from landfill gas, wind, or biomass, and efficient combined heat and power systems.
- A 42 Percent Increase in Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) Funding
The CCRI focuses on reducing significant uncertainties in climate science, improving global climate observing systems, and developing resources to support policymaking and resource management. The President's FY 2005 budget includes $238 million for the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI), a $70 million or 42 percent, increase over 2004. This funding level includes $57 million to accelerate efforts to advance understanding of the role of aerosols on climate, better quantify carbon sources, and improve the technology and infrastructure used to observe and model climate variations.
- Federal Energy and Carbon Sequestration Programs
The United States is sponsoring, with international and private-sector partners, a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions electricity and hydrogen power plant (FutureGen). This project is designed to dramatically reduce air pollution and capture and store greenhouse gases. Through the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by pollution-free fuel cells. The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and the FreedomCAR Partnership will provide $1.7 billion over the next five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, a hydrogen infrastructure, and advanced automobile technologies that emit no greenhouse gases.
- Climate VISION Partnership
In February 2003, President Bush announced that leading firms from 12 major industrial sectors and the membership of the Business Roundtable have committed to work with four Cabinet agencies (DOE, EPA, DOT, and USDA) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. Participating industries included America's electric utilities; petroleum refiners and natural gas producers; automobile, iron and steel, chemical and magnesium manufacturers; forest and paper producers; railroads; and the cement, mining, aluminum, and semiconductor industries.
- Climate Leaders
Announced in 2002, "Climate Leaders" is an EPA partnership encouraging individual companies to develop long-term, comprehensive climate change strategies. Partners set corporate-wide GHG reduction goals and inventory their emissions to measure progress.
- President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging
In July 2003, Secretary of State Powell launched the President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging to assist developing nations in combating illegal logging, including the sale and export of illegally harvested timber, and in fighting corruption in the forest sector. The initiative represents the most comprehensive strategy undertaken by any nation to address this critical sustainable development challenge, and reinforces the leadership role of the United States in taking action to counter the problem and preserve forest resources that store carbon.
Improving Our Coastal Regions and Ocean Conservation
A Strong Commitment to Clean Beaches
In April 2004, the Administration announced its commitment to further protect the water quality of the nation's beaches and to ensure compliance with the Beaches, Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000. The Administration's Clean Beaches strategy includes a Clean Beaches Plan, grants to states for beach monitoring and notification programs, technical guidance, scientific studies, and federal water quality standards to backstop state and territorial efforts where necessary.
- Restoration of Marine Ecosystems
In close cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state and local governments, the National Park Service has begun restoring marine ecosystems. New management practices, networks of marine reserves, and natural area research have been established to restore coral reefs, kelp forests, and other diverse communities of marine life.
Improving the Quality of Our Waters and Resolving Water Crises
- Substantially Increased Funding for the Great Lakes
More than one-tenth of the population of the United States and one-quarter of the population of Canada live around the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes themselves are the largest system of fresh surface water on Earth, containing roughly 18 percent of the world supply. The President's FY 2005 budget includes an unprecedented $45 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Program, almost five times the 2004 level of funding. These additional funds will allow EPA, in conjunction with its community partners, to begin remediating contaminated sediments at six sites. Sediment remediation will help keep toxics such as polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals from entering the food chain, where they could cause adverse effects on human health and the environment. In May 2004, President Bush signed an Executive Order establishing the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, which, under EPA's leadership, brings together ten Agency and Cabinet officers to provide strategic direction on federal Great Lakes policy, priorities and programs.
- Water 2025
The Water 2025 Initiative helps states, tribes, and local communities improve conservation, implement efficiencies, and monitor water resources. In some cases, collaborative approaches and market-based transfers can use water banks or other means to meet emerging needs. Federal investments in research and development will provide more affordable water treatment technologies, such as desalination, to increase water supplies in critical areas. The President's FY 2005 budget includes $21 million, an increase of $13.3 million, for Water 2025, a program that strategically addresses the problem of competing demands for a finite water supply.
While we should certainly celebrate all of these successes, there is still much more to do, and President Bush is committed to building on the progress we have enjoyed over the last three years.