[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[November 4, 1995]
[Pages 1719-1720]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1719]]

The President's Radio Address
November 4, 1995

    Good morning. What I have to say today is clear and simple: Under 
the cover of balancing the budget, the Republican Congress is going 
after the essential environmental protections that have guaranteed the 
health and safety of all Americans for a long time now, and I am 
determined to stop them.
    I'm for balancing the budget; it's part of my vision to keep the 
American dream alive for all Americans in the 21st century. It's a core 
part of our strategy to promote economic growth, commonsense Government, 
and the mainstream values of responsibility, opportunity, work, family, 
and community.
    But protecting our environment is a fundamental community value for 
all Americans, and it can't be sacrificed to balance the budget. Because 
we cherish our children, we want to be sure the water they drink and the 
food they eat won't make them sick. Because we honor our parents, we 
want the air they breathe to be clean so they can live long and healthy 
lives and not be housebound by smog. Because we believe that what God 
created we must not destroy, each of us has a sacred obligation to pass 
on a clean planet to future generations. For nearly three decades, all 
Americans have agreed we must do what we have to to protect our 
environment. And America is cleaner and healthier because of it.
    Since our environmental laws were put in place, toxic emissions by 
factories have been cut in half. Lead levels in children's blood have 
dropped 70 percent. Lake Erie, for example, once declared dead, is now 
teeming with fish. But all this progress is now at risk. In the last few 
months, a small army of lobbyists for polluters has descended on Capitol 
Hill, mounting a full-scale assault on our environmental and public 
health protections. And this Congress has actually allowed these 
lobbyists to sit down and rewrite important environmental laws to weaken 
our safeguards. And now they're trying to use the budget bill to further 
weaken these protections. It's an incredible fact that this Republican 
budget actually singles out the environment and its protections for 
extra cuts.
    This budget will mean dirtier water, more smog, more illness, and a 
diminished quality of life. Here's how. It's plain that there are two 
ways to legalize pollution: You can change the laws or just stop 
enforcing them by firing the enforcers. The pollution lobby knows it 
could never repeal half our environmental protections, so the Republican 
budget cuts the resources for environmental enforcement in half. Quite 
simply, it just pulls the cop from the environmental beat. The budget 
also would cut off money now going to communities to invest to keep 
their drinking water clean. And the cuts mean that toxic waste cleanups 
across America would slow to a crawl.
    The Republican leadership even tried to slip 17 special interest 
provisions into the spending bill, loopholes that would end enforcement 
of the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts, let more dangerous arsenic 
into our drinking water, allow raw sewage on our beaches. I'm happy to 
report that earlier this week, a bipartisan majority of the House, on 
the third try, rejected the efforts of the Republican leadership. But 
this fight isn't over.
    There's another important issue here, too. There's nothing more 
American than the idea that citizens have the right to know what's 
happening to them. But this budget tries to roll back the law that gives 
people the right to know what toxic chemicals are being released into 
their neighborhoods. So I've acted, issuing a pollution prevention 
Executive order to limit the damage of their efforts to deprive citizens 
of the right to know. But this fight isn't over yet, either.
    This budget also treats our Nation's great and precious store of 
public lands as a platform for destruction. The Republican budget, for 
example, would give oil companies the right to drill in the last 
unspoiled Arctic wilderness in Alaska. And it allows a giveaway of 
mining rights to companies at a fraction of their worth. Just recently, 
a law on the books since 1872 that I am trying hard to change forced the 
Government to sell minerals worth $1 billion to a private company for 
$275. That is taxpayer robbery, and it's going to keep right on 
happening under the Republican budget.
    Just think of it: The Republican budget proposes to raise taxes on 
working families with

[[Page 1720]]

incomes of less than $27,000, to increase the cost of college loans and 
cut the number of college scholarships, but they're determined to keep 
giving away $1 billion worth of minerals on Government land for $275.
    Well, I've got bad news for the lobbyists and their allies. We don't 
need more pollution to balance the budget. We don't need dirtier water 
to close the deficit. If Congress sends me a budget that guts 
environmental protection, that protects polluters, not the public, I 
will veto it. As President, it is my duty to protect our environment, 
and on my watch, America will not be for sale.
    On the other hand, we do have to be vigilant to make sure 
environmental protection doesn't become a tangle of redtape and 
bureaucracy, so we're stripping away thousands of pages of unnecessary 
rules and regulations and changing the way we protect the environment. 
Instead of a long list of do's and don'ts, we're telling responsible 
businesses, if you can meet the tough pollution goals, you figure out 
how to do it as cheaply and efficiently as you can. That's the way to 
cut regulation without hurting public health.
    After all, America's families don't care much about the rules and 
regulations. They look at the results, at a son who comes home from a 
playground with a rash from playing near an industrial site or a 
daughter with asthma, simply because she breathed the air.
    My fellow Americans, let's never forget: The decisions we make today 
will live on long after we're gone. I don't think we Americans have lost 
our sense of the past or our dedication to the future. We're balancing 
the budget in a way that will be good for future generations. That means 
that in balancing the budget, we have to preserve the planet--clean air, 
clean water, safe food, a decent environment--for those future 
generations, too.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 12:57 p.m. on November 3 in the 
Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on 
November 4.