President Clinton's Address at Sequoia Monument Proclamation Event



                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Bakersfield, California)

_________________________________________
For Immediate Release 
April 15, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                            AT EARTH DAY EVENT

                            Trail of 100 Giants
                          Sequoia National Forest


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, and good morning.  I
think we should all be very grateful for the beautiful day we have.  I know
it was exciting that it snowed here last night -- (laughter) -- but I was
watching Alexander give his fine remarks and I was thinking that growing
older has some merit, but one thing it doesn't have is the ability to
withstand cold better.  (Laughter.)  We took this whole walk and there he
is in his short-sleeve shirt and he never flinched, he never shivered, he
just walked right on.

     I want to thank Alexander for his remarks and for his example and the
work that he has done and the other young people he has exposed to this
magnificent grove.  I want to thank Secretary Glickman and Art Gaffrey.
Secretary Glickman did a lot of work on this and he talked about it in
advance, and I'll say a few more words about it, but I appreciate it.  Art
told me he's been here almost five years now.

     And I want to thank Marta Brown, who is, herself, a remarkably devoted
and accomplished public citizen.  I wish George were here with us today.  I
think he's smiling down on us, and I'm glad you could be a part of this.
Thank you, Mike Dombeck and Jim Lyons.  And I'd also like to thank my main
environmental advisor, George Frampton, who runs our Council on Sustainable
Development, Environmental Quality, for being here.  (Applause.)

     I'd like to thank the representatives of the Tule River Tribe who are
here, who also cherished these great trees.  Thank you for coming.
(Applause.)

     About a hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt dedicated America's
first national monuments.  He said he was doing it because we couldn't
improve upon our native landscape.  In his words, "the ages have been at
work on it, and man can only mar it.  What you can do, is keep it for your
children and your children's children."

     Well, as we have already heard today, these giant sequoias clearly are
the work of the ages.  They grow taller than the Statue of Liberty, broader
than a bus, they are the largest living things on this Earth; so perfectly
adapted to their environment that one has never been known to die of old
age.  And, as has already been said, many we have seen today are more than
1,500 years old.  They began when America was not even imagined, and Europe
was in the Dark Ages.

     Once these groves flourished all across the American west.  Today,
they exist only here in the Sierras.  Our second national park was created
in 1890 to protect them.  Yet half the remaining groves lie outside the
national park.  And although sequoias on federal lands are currently
protected from logging, the environment around them must also be protected
for the great trees to grow and reproduce.

     That is why we're here today.  We're looking forward to the first
Earth Day of the 21st century, and I think the best way to celebrate it is
to designate the Trail of 100 Giants, more than 30 nearby sequoia groves,
and the magnificent forest that surrounds then, the Giant Sequoia National
Monument.  (Applause.)

     These lands will continue to be managed by the Forest Service, as it
once again embraces the conservation ethic that inspired its creation 95
years ago.  More and more Americans are discovering our national forests,
with places to hike, camp, ride horses, enjoy a few hours of quiet
contemplation.  Years from now, Americans will come here to do all these
things, and these majestic trees will continue, as John Muir said, to
"preach God's forestry fresh from heaven."

     I know there have been strong and sometimes conflicting views about
the best way to manage these federal lands.  Secretary Glickman recommended
that they be protected after careful analysis and consultation with the
residents of the area, state, tribal and local officials and members of
Congress.  The Forest Service will work with the local community closely to
develop a long-term plan.  We want to ensure that all of the interests are
respected and that we help to bring jobs and opportunity to the area.

     This is not about locking lands up; it is about freeing them up for
all Americans for all time.  We're here because we recognize that these
trees, though they live to be very old and grow very large, like life
itself are still fragile.  The roots are surprisingly shallow and the
greatest threat to the trees' life is any disturbance to the tenuous
balance between the tree and the ground that anchors it.

     Thirty years ago next week Americans celebrated the first Earth Day
because they understood that we, too, have shallow roots on this planet and
that our future depends upon balance among all living things.  The story
since then is a story of American progress to protect and preserve that
balance.

     Since 1970, we've cleaned up many of our worst toxic waste sites and
waterways, cut toxic factory emissions almost in half.  The American people
have made environmental protection part of their daily lives.  They have
demanded that government and industry act to protect our national
treasures.

     I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities that Vice President
Gore and I have had over this last seven years and a few months to act as
stewards of our environment.  We have adopted the strongest air quality
protections ever, improved the safety of our drinking water and food,
cleaned up about three times as many toxic waste sites as the two previous
administrations combined; helped to promote a new generation of
fuel-efficient vehicles, and vehicles that run on alternative fuels;
launched new efforts to fight the sprawl that threatens so many of our
quality of life.

     We've helped hundreds of communities to turn dangerous brownfields
deserted by industry into safe, productive space.  And, yes, we have tried
to protect a lot of our nation's precious treasures.  It seems to me that
these last seven years should finally have put to rest the idea that you
can't have a strong economy and a cleaner, safer, more balanced
environment.  And I hope we will never have that debate again.  (Applause.)

     On this Earth Day, I would like to emphasize three things.  First,
obviously, this national monument.  Second, what more we can do to preserve
the most beautiful places in this country for all our children's futures.
We have a Lands Legacy Initiative to protect green spaces from the most
remote mountains to the nearest city park.  This year, I've asked Congress
to provide $1.4 billion to protect those special places, including nearby
Dillingwood Grove, the last privately held grove of giant sequoias.  I hope
we get the money for that, too.  (Applause.)

     But the thing I want all of you to understand is that is this fund
passes, most of the money will go to states and communities, to help them
pursue their own conservation priorities -- including communities here in
California.  It will empower people all across America to protect those
things that are most dear to them, close at hand, on a permanent basis.

     I'm happy to report that there's strong bipartisan support for this.
We had a great meeting last week at the White House with Republican and
Democratic congressional leaders.  And I think we've got a good chance to
build the Lands Legacy Initiative this year.

     Second, we need to invest in the future of our environment not just at
home, but around the world.  Tropical forests -- where a lot of us would
like to be right now -- (laughter) -- tropical forests are home to more
than half the known species on Earth.  Yet they're being lost at the rate
-- now, think about this; we came here to save these trees -- tropical
forests, the home of many indigenous peoples as well, are being lost at the
rate of 50 acres a minute.  This year, I have proposed a Greening the Globe
initiative to help developing countries protect their endangered forests
and better manage their natural heritage.

     And all these efforts to preserve biodiversity are important, but the
last point I'd like to make is, they won't do much good -- if I get killed
by this falling ice -- (laughter) --  they won't do much good unless we
band together to meet the greatest environmental challenge of the new
century, climate change and global warming.

     The 1990s were the hottest decade on record.  Scientists say that the
temperature rise is at least partly due to human activity, and that if
unchecked, climate change will result in more storms and floods, more
economic disruptions, more permanent flooding of coastal areas, perhaps the
entire flooding of island nations, and more threats to unique habitats such
as the one in which we are today.

     So the last point I want to make is, I hope all of you will help us to
build a national consensus to cut down our emissions of greenhouse gases
and to work with others around the world to use existing technologies to
help them do the same.  I urge those in Congress who have opposed our
efforts to drop their opposition, to recognize that we now have the
technology -- and we will soon have much more -- to cut emissions while
continuing to grow the economy.

     For example, we have the technology to reduce by 85 percent the amount
of energy it takes to run a refrigerator.  We will soon have cars on the
street that routinely get more than 60 miles a gallon; and new technologies
such as fuel cells and biofuels to give us the equivalent of hundreds of
miles from every gallon of gasoline.  Just by changing the lights in the
White House, I cut the power bills $100,000 a year.  (Laughter and
applause.)  And we put in a new heating system, a more fuel efficient
roofing system.

     If the changes we made in the White House were made in every federal
building, which I'm trying to get done, we would take the equivalent -- we
would reduce greenhouse gases so much it would be the equivalent of taking
1.7 million cars a year off the road.  (Applause.)  These things are out
there now.  They will generate jobs, they will generate economic activity.
And it is profoundly important that all of us who think about these things
continue to talk to our friends and neighbors until we build a vast
national consensus for concerted action.

     Now, I've asked Congress for over $2 billion for this, to fund local,
national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, to fund
clean technologies, to provide tax incentives for those who produce and
those who purchase these kinds of products.

     Now, before I sign a proclamation, let me just remind you that for
over a hundred years, beginning with the residents of Visalia, California,
Americans have sought to save these giant sequoias.  Earth Day brought
groups of Americans together on a crusade to save the treasures of our
planet.

     Today, let's remember, even here on the Trail of 100 Giants, the
global village presses even closer upon us.  We have to look within our
communities and beyond our borders for allies to deal with our common
environmental challenges.  We're doing our part today to make sure that the
monarchs after we're long gone, rooted strong in the web of nature that
sustains us all.

     It has been a great honor for me to be here.  I thank all of you who
have supported these decisions.  I thank you, again, Secretary Glickman.
But I ask you, when you walk out of here today, remember that not every
person can come to this gorgeous giant grove; but every person can benefit
from our continued efforts to improve our environment and sustain our
natural heritage.  And we still have a very great deal to do.

     Thank you very much.

     (The proclamation was signed.)

     END