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Special Event

President Clinton Announces New National Monuments

Aired January 11, 2000 - 1:15 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you straight out to the Grand Canyon live. President Clinton is beginning his remarks, further protecting federal government today out West. Here's the president:

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know we're doing the right thing because look at the day we've got. We've got the good Lord's stamp of approval on this great day.

Ann, thank you for your words and for your life and your example.

Superintendent Arnberger (ph), thank you and all the staff at Grand Canyon National Park, and through you I'd like to thank all the people who work for all of our national parks. I have spent quite a good deal of time as president in the national parks of America, and I grew up in one. And I am I suppose therefore more personally indebted to the people who give their lives to the Park Service than perhaps any of my predecessors. But I want to thank you.

I also want to thank all the people here from the Bureau of Land Management for the work they do and for the remarkable partnership that will be launched here. We have worked very hard these last seven years to try to get these two agencies to work together, to support each other, to believe in each other and to have common objectives, and I think we've made a lot of progress. So I want to thank the BLM people who are here as well.

I -- give them all a hand. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the environmental groups who are here. I want to welcome the children who are here. We have children from Grand Canyon Middle School and St. Mary's Middle School, and we welcome them. They're a lot about -- of what today is all about.

I want to thank Congressman Ed Pastor or Arizona, Congressman Sam Farr from California for joining me and former Congresswoman Karen English (ph) from Arizona for being here. Thank you.

And I want to thank all the people from the White House who supported me in this decision, my chief of staff, John Podesta who's here, and the head of our Council of Environmental Quality, George Frampton.

I want to thank someone I want to acknowledge particularly who worked with Secretary Babbitt on this, his counselor, Molly McCusick (ph), who played a big role in what we celebrate today, because she is -- she's not here, because she's celebrating an even bigger production.

Yesterday she gave birth to her son, Benjamin, so she couldn't be here, but I want to acknowledge that and her and her service.

(APPLAUSE)

And finally I want to say, this is, as you can see, a special day for Bruce Babbitt, not only because he has been a devoted champion of the Antiquities Act and of protecting land, but also because he is former governor of Arizona.

And when we served together as governors, we made it a habit -- Hillary and I did -- at least once a year at these governors meetings to have dinner with Bruce and Hattie Babbitt, and he was giving me the speech that he gave here today 15 or 20 years ago.

(LAUGHTER)

I've heard Bruce's speech a lot now, but it gets better every time he gives it.

(LAUGHTER)

Our country has been blessed by some outstanding secretaries of the Interior -- Gifford Penshaw (ph), Harold Ickes -- but I'll make a prediction. I believe when our time here is done and a fair analysis of the record is made, there will be no secretary of the interior in the history of the United States who has done as much to preserve our national heritage as Bruce Babbitt, and I thank him for that.

(APPLAUSE)

Secretary Babbitt talked about Theodore Roosevelt's role. You might be interested to know that it was exactly 92 years ago today, on January the 11th, 1908, that he designated Grand Canyon one of our nation's first national monuments. Now the first light falls on the 21st century and this breathtaking landscape he helped to protect.

None of you who can see what is behind me can doubt the wisdom of that decision. And so it is altogether fitting that on this day and in this place we continue that great journey.

This morning on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I designated three new national monuments and the expansion of a fourth to make sure more of the land that belongs to the American people will always be enjoyed by them. What a remarkable place this canyon is. It is in so many ways the symbol of our great natural expanse, our beauty and our spirit.

Thirty years ago for the first time I watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon for over two hours. This morning I got up and for about an hour I watched the sun rise over the canyon for the first time. In both cases, watching the interplay of the changing light against the different layers and colors of the canyon left me with a lifetime memory I will always cherish.

Millions and millions of Americans share those memories and a love of our natural treasure. In fact, I believe maybe if there's one thing that unites our fractious, argumentative country, across generations and parties and across time, it is the love we have for our land.

We know, as President Roosevelt said, we cannot improve upon this landscape, so the only thing we can add to it is our protection.

President Roosevelt challenged us to live up to that ideal, to see beyond today or next month or next year. He said: The one characteristic more essential than any other is foresight. It should be the growing nation with a future which takes the long look ahead.

I am very grateful for the opportunities that Vice President Gore and I have had to build on President Roosevelt's legacy, to take that long look ahead, to chart a new conservation vision for a new century.

From our inner cities to our pristine wild lands, we have worked hard to ensure that every American has a clean and healthy environment.

We've rid hundreds of neighborhoods of toxic waste dumps. Taken the most dramatic steps in a generation to clear the air we breathe, to control emissions that endanger the health of our children and the stability of our climate. We have made record investments in science and technology to protect future generations from the threat of global warming.

We've worked to protect and restore our most glorious natural resources from the Florida Everglades to California's Redwoods and Mojave Desert, to Escalante, to Yellow Stone. And we have, I hope, finally put to rest the false choice between the economy and the environment, where we have the strongest economy perhaps in our history, with a cleaner environment.

Cleaner air, cleaner water, more land set aside, safer food. I hope finally we have broken the hold of an old and now wrong idea that a nation can only grow rich and stay rich if it continues to spoil its environment and burn up the atmosphere.

With new conservation technologies and alternative energy sources, that is simply no longer true. It has not been true for quite some years now, but it is only now coming to be recognized. And I can tell you that in the next few years, no one will be able to deny the fact that we will actually have more stable, more widespread, more long-term economic long term growth, if we improve the environment.

We are on the verge of -- the Detroit auto show this year is going to showcase cars that get 70 and 80 miles a gallon with fuel injection and dual fuel sources. Before you know it, we will crack the chemical barriers to truly efficient production of biomass fuels, which will enable us to produce eight or nine gallons of biomass fuels with only one gallon of oil. That will be the equivalent of getting cars that use -- get 160 miles to a gallon of gasoline. And this is just the beginning.

We built the low income working family housing project in the Inland Empire out in California in cooperation with the National Home Builders, with glass in the windows that lets in four or five times as much light and keeps out four or five times as much heat and cold.

And we promised the people on modest incomes that if they moved into these homes, their energy bills would be on average 40 percent lower than they would have been in a home of comparable size. I can tell you that after two years they're averaging 65 percent below that. And so, therefore, their usage is much lower. We are just beginning.

So I ask all of you not only to celebrate this happy day, but to see it in the larger context of our common responsibility and our opportunity to preserve this planet.

(APPLAUSE)

Now to the matter at hand. We begin this unforgettable morning on the edge of this magnificent park. The deep canyons, rugged mountains and isolated buttes of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon tell a story written over the course of billions of years, illustrated in colorful vistas and spectacular detail. It is a lonely landscape, a vast and vital area of open space which, as Secretary Babbitt said, includes a critical watershed for the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.

Today we protect more than a million acres of this land; that is an area larger than Yosemite Park. For America's families, we designate it as the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument.

(APPLAUSE)

This effectively doubles the size of protected land around the Grand Canyon. Second, we actually promote some of the most significant late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. In the shadow of Phoenix, there lies a rough landscape of mesas and deep canyons, rich in archaeological treasures, distinctive art etched into boulders and cliff faces and stone masonry pueblos once inhabited by several thousand people centuries ago.

As the suburbs of Phoenix creeped ever closer to this space, we act to protect history and heritage. For America's families, we designate this land the Agua Fria National Monument.

(APPLAUSE)

Third, we are protecting thousands of small islands, rock outcroppings and exposed reefs along California's splendid coastline. These are natural wonders and they're also the habitat and nesting ground for sea mammals and hundreds of thousands of sea birds, forced from the shore because of development. Today, we act to protect all the coastal islands, reefs and rocks off California now owned by the federal government, designating them the California Coastal National Monument. Help Congressman Farr there clap.

Fourth and finally, we will expand California's Pinnacles National Monument created by President Roosevelt in 1908. Pinnacles is about two hours from Silicon Valley, but it's a world away. It includes soaring spires from an ancient volcano. Its mountain caves, desert and wilderness are home to abundant wildlife and a haven for campers, climbers and hikers. For one and all, Pinnacles is a sanctuary from sprawl. And for one and all, we act to keep it that way.

Now...

ALLEN: President Clinton, standing before the majestic Grand Canyon, acting to safeguard some of the West's most picturesque open spaces. He expands the Grand Canyon with this announcement. The Grand Canyon was declared a national monument by President Teddy Roosevelt January 11, 1908.

The president is declaring three new national monuments and expanding the grand canyon, as I mentioned. The lands already belong to the federal government, but his action protects these designated areas from mining and some other uses. He is acting on the recommendations from the Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, who's also at this ceremony. And he's acting under the Antiquities Act which was passed by Congress in 1906 and used by several presidents to protect federal lands.

The governor of Arizona and seven Republican colleagues who represent the state in Congress wrote last week to urge Clinton not to act in the Grand Canyon and the other area, Agua Fria. The Republicans want more public input into that decision. Yet, the president proceeded today in doing that.

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