April 22, 1983
On this 13th anniversary of Earth Day, I applaud the progress that this nation has made in protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment. Air quality in the United States today, especially in the cities, is much better than it was 13 years ago. Streams, rivers, and lakes all across the country are becoming cleaner. The Congress has enacted legislation which stringently regulates hazardous waste and has created a special fund to clean up abandoned hazardous dump sites. Expenditures by businesses and government to comply with environmental laws were almost $55 billion last year, or more than $230 per man, woman, and child in the United States. We can be proud of the actions we have taken as a nation to protect the quality of the environment for ourselves and our children.
Our nation has also been a wise steward of our natural resources. Beginning 75 years ago with President Teddy Roosevelt and foresters John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, our nation made a clear commitment to conservation. That commitment continues today. Our national park system has grown to 74 million acres, and almost 7,000 miles of river are included in our National Wild and Scenic River System. We have some 413 wildlife refuges, totaling some 86.7 million acres. This record cannot be matched by any other nation.
Private businesses and public interest groups, Federal, State, and local governments, and private citizens of all philosophical persuasions all recognize that our future is bound up inextricably with our management of the environment. By working together, we can achieve our environmental goals and manage our abundant natural resources wisely. Earth Day provides an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the environment.