Remarks by President Trump on America’s Environmental Leadership
White House East Room Washington D.C. July 8 3:37 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Great to have you, and I hope you all had a truly wonderful Independence Day weekend. In spite of the heavy rain - and it was really heavy - we had a remarkable Salute to America on the National Mall. It was incredible, actually. (Applause.)
Standing on the steps of the great Lincoln Memorial and looking out at the crowds - these incredible, big, beautiful crowds, braving the weather - all the way back to the Washington Monument, we celebrated freedom in all of its magnificence while saluting our great military. It was something really special. And I will say this: It was a wonderful day for all Americans. And based on its tremendous success, we're just making the decision - and I can think we can say we've made the decision - to do it again next year, and, maybe we can say, for the foreseeable future. (Applause.)
As we celebrate our nation's founding, we're reminded once more of our profound obligation to protect America's extraordinary blessings for the next generation and many generations, frankly, to come. Among the heritage we must preserve is our country's incredible natural splendor - that is the shared obligation that brings us together today. We have some incredibly talented people that know environment and what we're doing probably better than any people on Earth.
From day one, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America has among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet. We want the cleanest air. We want crystal-clean water, and that's what we're doing and that's what we're working on so hard.
For this afternoon's event, we are pleased to be joined by Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Steve, thank you very much. David Bernhardt - David, thank you. Secretary Wilbur Ross. Thank you, Wilbur. Secretary Alex Azar. Alex, great job. Drug prices are coming down. I see it. (Laughter.) I'm proud of you. Secretary Elaine Chao. Elaine, thank you. Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Andrew, thank you. And Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality, Mary Neumayr. Thank you, Mary. Thank you very much.
In a few moments, we'll hear an update on some of their very important work.
Also with us are Senators Kevin Cramer, Steve Daines, John Barrasso. These are three great senators, I might add. Perhaps I'm a little prejudiced because I like them very much, but they're great senators. Thank you. Thank you, fellas. (Applause.) And Congressman Bruce Westerman. And thank you, Bruce, for being here. I appreciate it very much. Thank you all for being here. (Applause.)
As the Cabinet Secretaries will tell you, from the very beginning, I have given them clear direction to focus on addressing environmental challenges so we can provide the highest quality of life to all Americans. In addition to clean air and clean water, that means being good stewards of our public lands; prioritizing cleanup of polluted lands that threaten our most vulnerable citizens, and threaten them very dearly; and implementing pro-growth policies to unlock innovation and new technologies which will improve American life and America's environment. So important.
These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind and they have rallied behind. And they've re- - rallied behind in a very Republican and Democrat way. I really think that's something that is bipartisan.
For years, politicians told Americans that a strong economy and a vibrant energy sector were incompatible with a healthy environment. In other words, one thing doesn't go with the other. And that's wrong because we're proving the exact opposite.
A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment. When we innovate, produce, and grow, we're able to unleash technologies and processes that make the environment better while reshoring and, so importantly - you look at reshoring production all the way - taking it away from foreign polluters, and back to American soil.
The previous administration waged a relentless war on American energy. We can't do that. They sought to punish our workers, our producers, and manufacturers with ineffective global agreements that allowed the world's worst-polluting countries to continue their practices. These radical plans would not make the world cleaner; they would just make and put Americans out of work, and they put them out of work rapidly. They move production to foreign countries with lower standards - our companies were forced to do that, and they didn't want to do that - and they drive up the price of gas and electricity at home, and drive it to levels that are literally unaffordable.
And, by the way, that's happening to many other countries, but it's not happening here. Other countries - their pricing on electricity is so high, not even to be affordable. At our level, we are doing numbers that nobody has seen before. Nobody believes what we're doing and what we're producing electricity and other things for.
Punishing Americans is never the right way to produce a better environment or a better economy. We've rejected this failed approach, and we're seeing incredible results.
Since the election, we have created more than 6 million new jobs. Nobody would have believed that. I don't think anybody - (applause) - Kevin? Nobody. Nobody. (Applause.) If I would have said that during the campaign, it wouldn't have been a pretty picture the next day, as I read the headlines. (Laughter.) Six million new jobs.
Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in a half a century, and we have more people working today than have ever worked in the history of our country. We're getting very close to 160 million people, which is unthinkable. If you go back three years and you said "160 million people," they would say, "unthinkable."
We're unlocking American energy, and the United States is now a net exporter of clean, affordable, American natural gas. We're exporting all over the world. (Applause.)
And today, the United States is ranked - listen to this - number one in the world for access to clean drinking water - ranked number one in the world. (Applause.)
One of the main messages of air pollution - particulate matter - is six times lower here than the global average. So we hear so much about some countries and what everyone is doing. We're six times lower than the average. That's a tremendous number.
Since 2000, our nation's energy-related carbon emissions have declined more than any other country on Earth. Think of that. Emissions are projected to drop in 2019 and 2020. We're doing a very tough job and not everybody knows it, and that's one of the reasons we're here today to speak to you.
Every single one of the signatories to the Paris Climate Accord lags behind America in overall emissions reductions. Who would think that is possible?
For this reason, in my first year in office, I withdrew the United States from the unfair, ineffective, and very, very expensive Paris Climate Accord. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
My administration is now revising the past administration's misguided regulations to better protect the environment and to protect our American workers, so importantly.
As an example, there is a very good place for solar energy. I'm a believer in solar energy. It hasn't fully developed. It's got a long way to go, but it's really got a tremendous future.
The United States does not have to sacrifice our own jobs to lead the world on the environment. My administration set the new global standard for environmental protections with unprecedented provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, commonly referred to as the "USMCA," which includes the first-ever provisions to take on the challenge of marine litter and debris.
And I'm sure you've all seen, by watching television, by maybe reading about it - it's a tremendous problem: Thousands and thousands of tons of this debris float onto our shores after it's dumped into the oceans by other countries. The tides come to us. Usually, that was a good thing, but this isn't so good. This is a tremendous problem. Thousands and thousands of tons of garbage comes to us.
While we're focused on practical solutions, more than 100 Democrats in Congress now support the so-called Green New Deal. Their plan is estimated to cost our economy nearly $100 trillion - a number unthinkable; a number not affordable even in the best of times. If you go 150 years from now and we've had great success, that's not a number that's even thought to be affordable. It'll kill millions of jobs, it'll crush the dreams of the poorest Americans, and disproportionately harm minority communities.
I will not stand for it. We will defend the environment, but we will also defend American sovereignty, American prosperity, and we will defend American jobs. (Applause.)
We've refocused the EPA back on its core mission, and, last year, the agency completed more Superfund hazardous waste clean-ups than any year of the previous administrations and set records in almost every year. We have done tremendous work on Superfunds.
To name just two examples, we've made great strides cleaning up damage near a paper plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan - something that was beyond fix-up. They thought it was never going to happen. And also, the West Lake Landfill in Missouri.
This year, we've also directed $65 million in Brownfields grants to clean up even more contaminated sites in 149 American communities. Think of that - the vast majority home to lower-income citizens. That is some project. (Applause.) That is some project.
And for the first time in nearly 30 years, we're in the process of strengthening national drinking water standards to protect vulnerable children from lead and copper exposure - something that has not been done, and we're doing it. And last month, our EPA took the first major action in nearly two decades to reduce exposure to lead-contaminated dust.
I signed America's Water Infrastructure Act, along with these great gentlemen right here. We worked very hard on that - very, very hard - and it wasn't easy, to further approve and improve drinking water infrastructure and support other critical projects.
Our administration has directed over half a billion dollars to fix Lake Okeechobee - the Herbert Hoover Dike. I was out there three months ago with your new, great governor - and senator, actually - from Florida. We had our two senators. We had Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and our great, new governor, Ron DeSantis. We were all out and we made a certain commitment, and the commitment has already taken place, and they're fixing Lake Okeechobee. People are very happy about it in the Florida Everglades. We're restoring the ecosystems in the Everglades.
And I also signed legislation authorizing $100 million to fight red tide - a big problem that some people don't know about but, when you do know about it, that means trouble because it is bad - and other toxic algae that damages coastal areas. It's causing tremendous havoc, and we have a way of straightening it out, and we'll get it done.
We're joined today by Bruce Hrobak, owner of Billy Bones Bait 'N Tackle in Port St. Lucie - a place I know very well - Florida. His business was devastated by toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee.
Bruce, please come up and tell us about what's happened and what we're doing for you. Where is Bruce? (Applause.) Bruce. Hi, Bruce. Please.