Aug 9, 2023

President Biden Delivers Remarks on his Historic Conservation and Climate Action Transcript

President Biden Delivers Remarks on his Historic Conservation and Climate Action Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsBiden Remarks on Conservation & ClimatePresident Biden Delivers Remarks on his Historic Conservation and Climate Action Transcript

President Biden discusses the Biden Administration’s historic investments in conservation and protecting our natural resources, and how the Inflation Reduction Act is the largest investment in climate action in our nation’s history. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Please welcome youth leader from the Hopi and Havasupai Tribes, Maya Tilousi Little.

Maya Tilousi Little (00:07):

[foreign language 00:00:07] Maya Tilousi Little [foreign language 00:00:22]. My name is Maya [inaudible 00:00:24] Tilousi Little. I’m the daughter of Carletta Tilousi and Robert Little and the niece of the late Rex Tilousi. I’m also a senor at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Arizona. It is such an honor to be here today on this truly historic day at the Sacred lands of the many tribes within the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition. Standing here at repute represents the unity of the tribes to protect our ancestral lands. I’ve grown up swimming in Havasu Falls where I learned a deep love and respect for our land and water. I’ve had the privilege to travel with my mother on her journey to protect our sacred homeland, its abundant natural resources, and to fight for environmental justice for all people.

I’m here representing the next generation that has the responsibility to continue this vital work. This is our home and we are committed to its protection. We are forever grateful to the President for his commitment to protect our homelands for the tribes and everyone who recognizes the beauty of the Grand Canyon. It is a privilege to welcome all the tribal leaders, congressional leaders, and White House staff to our homelands. It is now my honor to introduce a true leader pursuing environmental justice, President Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden (01:42):

Thank you. Thank you. Please have a seat if you have one. If you don’t have one, you can sit down anyway if you want. Well, thank you very, very much. Maya, thank you for the introduction. When I was your age to be able to stand up and introduce anybody, let alone a President, I would’ve frozen. Thank you. You’re an impressive young woman and I’m going to come down to those waterfalls pretty soon.

It is great to be here. Secretary Holland, our first Native American Cabinet secretary, and Brenda Mallory, the chair of our Council of Environmental Quality, and Governor Hobbs, congratulations and you’re doing a heck of a job. And Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Congressman, where’s the congressman? Is he here? We’ve been hanging out since I got here a little bit. Raul has been a good friend and done a great deal. He was one of the most popular congressmen in the country I think, who’ve long championed this effort in Congress. And Congressman Greg Stanton has been a leader as well. And thanks to all the state, county and local officials who’ve worked so hard to see this day happen. Make it happen. And you have, believe me, I know you have. To the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management Professionals here, thank you. Thank you for caring for our public lands, most precious thing we have. And special thanks to tribal leaders joining us whose ancestors stewarded these lands since time in memorial. Got to meet most of you last night. I’m looking forward to saying hello to you again today.

And a special hello to Jimmy McCain. Where are you Jimmy? I’m going to embarrass you. He doesn’t think he’s going to be introduced. There you are Jimmy. Jimmy’s dad was a dear friend of mine. We were like two brothers who we got along together. When we argued, we argued like hell. We really went at it. But he was a man, he was a great patriot and a man of enormous integrity. And Jimmy, you’re just like your dad. Serving your country in Iraq and Afghanistan and continuing to serve as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. Thank you, thank you, thank you pal. And I say this is all sincerity. No one ever doubts I mean what I say, sometimes I say all that I mean though. I think of your dad all the time about how much he loved this country and how optimistic he was. Optimistic about our future. So thank you for being here, pal and thank you for your continued service.

America’s natural wonders are nation’s, heart and soul. That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact. They unite us. They inspire us. A birthright we pass down from generation to generation, and that’s why from day one, I’ve taken historic steps to conserve our natural treasures for all ages. My first week as President, I signed an executive order established in our country’s most ambitious conservation goal ever. I made a commitment that we will protect 30% of all our nation’s lands and waters, conserve all 30% of all our nation’s lands and waters by 2030, and we’re on our way and we’re delivering. Just my first year in office, we’ve protecting more lands than anyone since the 1960s. John Kennedy’s era. 9 million acres in Alaska, in Bristol Bay and the Tongass Forest, 225,000 acres in Minnesota, the Boundary Waters. We’re working to protect 770,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean, Southwest of Hawaii, a new maritime sanctuary, and network of islands and reefs, almost three times the size of Texas on track to be among the largest protected ocean area on the entire planet.

We’ve already restored protection for three natural monuments gutted by the last administration. Two not so far from here in Utah, the Grand Staircase and Bears Ears. By the way, I’ll never forget, I was standing in Washington and a little girl walked up to me, I could see her daddy say, “Go up and say something to the President. She walked up and she said, “Mr. President, would you take care of Bears Ears for me?” And I didn’t know what she meant when she said it. “Would you take care of Bear’s Ears for me?” Well, we took care of her and we gave her the signing pen. A third of the coast of New England and the northeast canyons and sea mounts. Look, we’ve designated new national monuments as well. Camp Hale in Colorado, 50,000 acres, Spirit Mountain in Nevada, 500,000 acres, Castner Range in Texas, 6,600 acres. And just last month honoring Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley in Mississippi and in Illinois.

But folks, it’s not hyperbole suggested, there is no national treasure, none that is grander than the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon, one of the earth’s nine wonders, wonders of the world. Literally. Think of that. It’s amazing. And during symbol of America to the entire world, the first time I saw the Grand Canyon years ago, I was a young senator. As I stood there and looked out, a phrase came to mind. It was instinctive. I said, “This is God’s cathedral.” That’s what it reminded me of. It just is so magnificent. As a matter of fact, I said nine. It’s one of the seven wonders of the world. And so today, I’m proud to use my authority under the Antiquities Act to protect almost one million acres of public land around Grand Canyon National Park as a new national monument.

To help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land of ancestral footprints for all future generations. Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have traveled to the Grand Canyon. Odd by its majesty, but fewer are aware of its full history. From time in memorial, more than a dozen tribal nations have lived, gathered, preyed on these lands. But some 100 years ago they were forced out. That very act of preserving the Grand Canyon as a national park was used to deny indigenous people full access to their homelands.

To the places where they hunted, gathered, took precious sacred ancestral sites. They fought for decades to be able to return to these lands, to protect these lands from mining and development, to clear them of contamination, to preserve their shared legacy for future generations. I made a commitment as President to prioritize respect for the tribal sovereignty and self-determination to honor the solemn promises the United States made to tribal nations to fulfill federal trust and treaty obligations. I pledge to keep using all that available authority to protect sacred tribal lands. Biden administration has worked alongside tribal leaders, including many of you are here today, to keep that promise.

At a time when some seek to ban books and bury history, we’re making it clear that we can’t just choose to learn only what we want to know. We should learn everything that’s good, bad, and the truth, about who we are as a nation. That’s what great nations do, and we’re the greatest of all nations. Only with truth comes healing and justice, and another step toward forming more perfect union. Folks, our nation’s history is etched in our people and in our lands. Today’s action is going to protect and preserve that history along with these high plateaus and deep canyons. Majestic red cliffs over 300 million years old. Older than the oldest dinosaur ever known. Central to the creation stories of so many tribal people and so many tribal nations, fundamental to who we are, to their way of life, to the most sacred ceremonies, ancestors buried here, eternal sources of reverence and healing. These lands also supported a range of ecosystem and plants. From Savannah’s to Sagebrush to Ponderosa Pine, a haven of ironic species like bats, bison, bighorn sheep, and nearly 450 kinds of birds, including the bald and golden eagles.

They’re the historic home of 3000 cultural sites, cliff houses, cave paintings. Ancient spots that help us understand the history of these civilizations. They also are key to building resilience to drought and climate change. Creeks and streams flowing into the Colorado River, supporting farms and ranches across the southwest, bringing clean water to 40 million Americans. By creating this monument, we’re setting aside new spaces for families to hike, bike, hunt, fish and camp. Growing the tourism economy that already accounts for 11% of all Arizona jobs. Folks, preserving these lands is good, not only for Arizona, for the planet, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for the soul of the nation. And I believe with my core and my course the right thing to do. But there’s more work ahead to combat the existential threat of climate change.

We’ve seen historic floods, more intense droughts, wildfires, spreading smokey haze, which I could sense today, thousands of miles. Record temperatures affecting more than 100 million Americans this summer. I need not tell you, all over 110 degrees in Phoenix for 31 straight days. Extreme heat is America’s number one weather related killer. Extreme heat kills more people than floods, hurricanes and tornadoes combined, and it’s threatening the farms, the forests, and the fisheries of so many families depend on to make a living. But none of this need to be inevitable.

From the start of my administration, we’ve taken an unprecedented action to combat climate crisis. Last year I signed the largest climate bill in the history, not only of the United States, but literally in the history of the world. It’s the biggest investment in climate conservation and environmental justice ever, anywhere, in the history of the world. And it has many parts. For example, it’ll save working families thousands of dollars a year if they install rooftop solar or weatherize their homes and also conserve energy. And it includes the record $720 million for native communities to ease the impact of droughts and rising sea levels, to bring clean electricity to tribal homes. And all these historic measures put us on track to cut all American emissions in half. In half by 2030. And we’re well on our way.

It also creates enormous of employment, enormous growth in things that better people’s lives. My mom, God love her, had an expression, when I lost my family, she said, “Joey, out of everything bad, something good will come if you look hard enough for it.” Well, there’s a lot of good that’s going to come from the sacrifices of dealing with taking on the climate crisis. Folks, these are investments on our planet, our people, in America itself, protecting our outdoor treasures, making our nation more resilient. But some MAGA extremists in Congress are trying to undo it all. I didn’t get any help from the guys on the other team. Every single solitary person voted against this historic clean energy investment. And now many of them are trying again to repeal these parts of the bills, but we won’t let them. There’s too much at stake.

Let me close with this. America’s natural wonders are central to our heritage and our identity as a nation. Conserving them not only protects the livelihoods of the people who depend on them, preserves key pieces of our history of the full American story for generations to come. It unites us through all ages and connects us to something bigger than ourselves, much bigger than ourselves. Today marks an historic step in preserving the majesty of this place. First among American landmarks, sacred to tribal nations, revered by every American. It speaks to the soul of our nation, reminds us of who we are. We are the United States of America, and there’s nothing beyond our capacity when we act together. Nothing at all.

Well folks, God bless you all. May God protect our troops. Now I want to invite some of our guests on stage. I think they know who they’re supposed to come up, as I sign the proclamation establishing ancestral footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I wonder who’s going to be the first one to walk a million acres? Secretary says, “She’s sure many people have done it already.”

Speaker 4 (17:08):

Can you see?

President Joe Biden (17:08):

All right. Here we go.

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