In his weekly radio address today, President Clinton is commemorating the 30th anniversary of Earth Day by highlighting the tremendous progress America has made in improving our environment, while acknowledging that many challenges remain. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, the nations air, water and land are cleaner, and millions of acres of land have been protected. In the 21st century, climate change remains one of our greatest environmental challenges. To help meet the challenge of climate change, the President is unveiling two new executive orders. The first order improves fuel efficiency by requiring the Federal government to reduce fuel use in its vehicle fleets by 20 percent over the next five years. The second order will offer federal workers incentives to use public transportation, cutting fuel use and the pollution that contributes to climate change. Finally, the President will call on Congress to combat global warming by enacting his climate change budget package which increases investments in research and development of clean energy technology and offers tax incentives to consumers who buy energy efficient cars, homes, appliances and other clean energy products.
Increasing Scientific Consensus on Global Warming. A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that the Earth is getting warmer and that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are contributing to that trend. Scientists now report that seven of the last 10 years were the warmest on record and that the 1990s were the warmest decade of the millennium. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climatic Data Center recently released a study showing that since the mid-1970s, the global temperature has risen at a rate of about 0.35 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. Left unchecked, this rate of warming will lead to potentially devastating consequences, including sea-level rise, the spread of disease, shifts in agricultural productivity, and damage to ecosystems.
Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change. President Clinton
and Vice President Gore have led efforts in the United States and abroad to
protect future generations from the risk of climate change by:
Making the Federal Fleet a Model of Fuel Efficiency. Todays
Executive Order on federal transportation builds
on the Clinton-Gore Administration's commitment to greater energy efficiency.
It requires agencies to meet an aggressive target on fuel efficiency in federal
vehicles -- a 20 percent reduction in 1999 levels of fuel use by 2005 -- using
flexible strategies crafted to fit each agencys particular needs while
minimizing costs. This will reduce the amount of fuel used by Federal vehicles
by 45 million gallons each year. Reducing federal petroleum use and displacing
petroleum with alternative fuels supports the Administration's agenda to:
Mass Transportation for Federal Workers. The President's Executive Order on mass transit will allow federal workers to spend up to $65 pre-tax dollars per month on public transit. In the Washington metropolitan area, all federal agencies will be required to help subsidize public transportation costs for their workers. And three agencies -- the Departments of Energy and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency -- will offer that benefit across the country. This measure will cut greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution and help reduce road congestion. The Department of Transportation estimates that 75,000-100,000 additional Federal employees in the National Capital Region will take advantage of the transit/vanpool benefits, reducing air pollution costs by $70 million-$95 million.
Growing Calls to Action. Against this backdrop of growing scientific consensus, U.S. corporations such as DuPont, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson, among many others, are stepping forward with real actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to meet the challenge of global warming. At the state and local level, over 500 mayors and local officials last fall called for greater action by Washington to meet the challenge of climate change.
Congress Stuck In Neutral. Despite the nation's call for
greater action, Congress has consistently failed to move forward on climate
change and has sought to erect roadblocks to sensible climate policies:
Already this year, Congress has passed a budget resolution that fails to support the President's Climate Change Technology Initiative, which contains important funding to promote energy efficiency, develop clean energy sources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Failure to fully fund CCTI would be yet another setback in the nation's effort to improve energy security, increase energy efficiency and implement common sense, cost effective action to address climate change.
Environmental Accomplishments Detailed on the Web: For further information about the nations progress in protecting public health and the environment -- including increased investments in clean energy technologies, improved air and water quality, accelerated toxic waste cleanups, dramatic reductions in toxic releases, and increased protections for millions of acres land across America -- visit the Clinton/Gore Administrations Earth Day report, "A Healthy Environment for the 21st Century" at www.whitehouse.gov.
Radio Address of the President