Obama on the Record: Omnibus Public Lands Management Act

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much, Ken, for that extraordinary introduction and for the work that you and your team are undertaking at the Department of the Interior. We’re going to add a little bit to your plate today as a consequence of this extraordinary piece of legislation.

I want to thank all the members of the legislature who helped to craft this. Many of them are on the stage here today. Obviously I’ve got to single out the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for her extraordinary leadership, but also our Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, who worked so diligently on this bill and made sure that it got done. And so please give all of these legislators a big round of applause. (Applause.)

If you’ll indulge me, there are just a couple other people I want to acknowledge: Nancy Sutley, who is the Chair of our Council on Environmental Quality, who is here. Where’s Nancy? There she is, right in front. (Applause.) Jane Lubchenco, who is the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Please, Jane — (applause.) A couple of great friends from Indian Nation — President Joe Shirley of Navaho Nation, who is here. Go ahead, Joe, stand up. (Applause.) And Tribal Chairman Robert Bear, of the Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

It is fitting that we meet on a day like this. Winter’s hardships are slowly giving way to spring, and our thoughts naturally tend to turn to the outdoors. We emerge from the shelter offered by home and work, and we look around and we’re reminded that the most valuable things in this life are those things that we already possess.

As Americans, we possess few blessings greater than the vast and varied landscapes that stretch the breadth of our continent. Our lands have always provided great bounty — food and shelter for the first Americans, for settlers and pioneers; the raw materials that grew our industry; the energy that powers our economy.

What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship. As our greatest conservationist President, Teddy Roosevelt, put it almost a century ago, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”

That’s the spirit behind the bipartisan legislation I’m signing today — legislation among the most important in decades to protect, preserve, and pass down our nation’s most treasured landscapes to future generations.

Many senators and congressmen here deserve enormous credit for making this bill possible. I’m grateful to all their hard work. As I mentioned before, Harry Reid made this a top priority. He made sure this was the first bill the Senate passed this year. This day would not be possible without his tireless dedication to protecting our treasured lands.

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