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Special Event

President Clinton Declares New National Monuments

Aired January 17, 2001 - 10:06 a.m. ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now to Washington, to the White House specifically, the East Room; President Clinton here about to make another designation of land that will be termed off limits for any development. He is doing what he calls is preserving our natural heritage.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Thank you very much. And good morning. I want to welcome you all here, but especially I would like to acknowledge the Secretary Mineta, Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, all the descendants of Lewis and Clark, representatives of Sacagawea and Bjork (ph), Stephen Ambrose, whom you will hear in a moment, and I also want to recognize my friends Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, who did such a wonderful job on the Lewis and Clark film, the members of the Millennium Council who have supported this project, the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial and Trials groups. I thank you all for coming here.

I would like to especially acknowledge and thank our administration's environmental team, including Secretary Babbitt, EPA Administrator Carol Browner, who is here, my chief of staff John Podesta, George Frampton, the head of the Council for Environmental Quality, and Bob Stanton, who has led our Park Service so ably. Thank you all for your good work.

(APPLAUSE)

I am especially grateful to these people today, obviously, but every day because thanks to their work, our air and water are cleaner, our food is safer. We have cleaned up twice as many toxic waste sites in these last eight years as in the previous 12. We have protected more land in the lower 48 states than any administration since that of Theodore Roosevelt, and have supported research development and deployment of energy conservation technologies and clean energy sources. Demonstrating, I believe convincingly, that we can have environmental protection and economic growth hand in hand.

We believe that our future and our land, air and water are one; that when we must preserve not only historical treasures, but our natural treasures as well. Today's ceremony is the last I will host as president here in the historic East Room, where first lady Abigail Adams hung up the laundry to dry; where union soldiers lived during the early days of the Civil War; and where a young idealist named Meriwether Lewis, summoned by President Jefferson to serve as his secretary, first unpacked his traveler's trunk and set up quarters in 1801.

The room looked quite different back then, no chandeliers, no parquet floors, no silk drapes, just the rough siding of walls awaiting plaster, and two stone hearths to ward off the winter chill.

What the East Room then lacked in grandeur was more than atoned for by the ideas that filled it. For it was here that Jefferson and Lewis first unfurled an unfinished map of a great continent and planned a bold expedition of discovery.

So it is fitting that we meet once more in this room, at the dawn of a new century and a new age of discovery, where a few months ago we announced the very first complete mapping of the human genome. We gather here to honor pathfinders of our past and protect their precious legacy.

Most of the landscape Lewis and Clark traversed nearly two centuries ago is changed beyond recognition: forests cut, prairies plowed, rivers damned, cities built.

HARRIS: We now want to cut away from the president's remarks there in the East Room of the White House.

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