This week, people all around the globe will come together to honor and appreciate our environment. Since its establishment over 40 years ago, Earth Day in America has given us the opportunity to renew our commitment to protecting and preserving the natural treasures and resources vital to our health and prosperity. The investments that make the water we drink and the air we breathe clean and healthy, and protect the health of the lands on which we work, farm, live, and play will continue to pay immeasurable dividends for generations to come.
As I travel across the country visiting communities, students, educators, businesses and innovators building the path to winning the future, I am reminded of how interconnected a robust economy and a thriving natural environment are. Our clean energy economy will harness and protect the power of the sun, the wind, our waters, our resources, and our Earth. To ensure their success we must also play our part.
As I visited with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps members in Los Angeles, California, I heard how the training they received helps small businesses save energy and money, thanks to the Department of Energy’s Recovery Act investments. By partnering with local governments, these Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants create projects that will train workers and drive technology, and build sustainable, energy-saving communities.
Partnership and investment by the Federal and local governments will be vital to our success as a country. I saw, firsthand, how these strategic investments empower and lead the way toward the future and impact the everyday lives of Americans.
The lasting benefits of a sound natural environment don’t end there. Our nation’s traditions are built on the connection that America’s natural heritage has with our health and livelihood. In Los Angeles I joined young Angelenos camping with their families, some of them for the first time, in the shadows of downtown LA skyscrapers. I saw the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative in action. Once a massive rail yard, now a magnificent expanse of urban green space, the Los Angeles State Historic Park brings this community, especially its youth, closer to each other and closer to the outdoors. Often lacking access to the outdoors, our urban populations can miss the important opportunity to learn from, connect with, and continue the natural traditions that have defined this nation. That’s what the President’s 21st century common sense conservation agenda is all about.
In all of this, we must remember the President’s challenge to us to give back as much as we take, so that our way of life and the natural world on which we depend can maintain the harmony vital to our future. Last Saturday, I kicked-off Earth Week in service to our environment by joining students and the local community in planting trees in this historic state park in Los Angeles. Today, I will join Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President in a live Facebook chat to answer your questions about what the Obama Administration is doing to protect our environment and build a clean energy economy for generations to come. I hope you will join us in this conversation at 4:30pm (EDT) by asking your questions at www.whitehouse.gov/live
Tomorrow, First Lady Michelle Obama, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis and I will commemorate Earth Day by working to help improve the habitat at Fort Dupont Park in Washington, DC, an urban green space in DC’s historic Anacostia neighborhood. Joined by mentees, and local students, we will commemorate Earth day and Mrs. Obama will present Let’s Move! Outside Junior Ranger certificates and Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards (PALAs) to celebrate Americans who enjoy being healthy and active in the outdoors.
Protecting the vibrancy and resilience of our environment affects all nations across generations impacting our health, to our prosperity, and our daily lives. Millions of Americans from all walks of life have come together and heeded that call. That is the spirit behind Earth Day. That as long as we embrace and encourage the innovation and commitment to service in each and every one of us, we have the capacity to make an enormous difference for our country, and for our world.
And across the Administration, Cabinet Members and agencies are participating in events, including several today. For example, after hosting the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall this past weekend, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will join Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to highlight the Philadelphia Water Department’s green stormwater infrastructure investments; Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan are in Long Island to unveil a new pilot program that will offer credit-worthy borrowers low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes; United States Trade Representative Kirk will visit American University where he will tour solar installations and speak with students; and the Department of Transportation will host the largest Earth Day celebration in its history. And tomorrow, among other events, Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes will host a live webchat at www.doi.gov/live at 11:15 a.m. to discuss Interior’s renewable energy initiatives and Earth Day-related activities, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki will speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the wind turbine at Massachusetts National Cemetery.
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality