July 16, 1987 To the Congress of the United States:
I am pleased to transmit to the Congress the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality.
Clean air and water, productive and beautiful lands, abundant wildlife, and plentiful energy and natural resources are part of America's heritage. Throughout history Americans have sustained a deep, abiding relationship with their land and a reverence for this natural resource heritage. Prior to colonial settlement, native Americans strongly maintained these attitudes and the vast majority of Americans today hold similar values. My commitment to the conservation and stewardship of this treasured national heritage by the American people is guided by these beliefs.
The United States has by far the most comprehensive legislation of any nation on earth aimed towards environmental protection and natural resource conservation. This legislative umbrella continues to undergo modification in order to refine and redirect the Nation's programs to best serve the American people. These efforts are having an effect. By all accounts our Nation's air and water are getting cleaner. Likewise, our natural resource heritage is generally being preserved adequately and managed well. As this report observes, ``Most renewable resources and their outputs appear to be sufficiently abundant to satisfactorily meet the needs of the nation . . . . Generally, the quality of these resources and their outputs is improving.'' Further, it concludes that ``Time has tested our policies and programs and our resource managers, both public and private. They appear to have served Americans well.''
However, this report also makes clear that despite these positive trends, programs and policies governing environmental protection and natural resource preservation are in need of change. The potential to devote virtually infinite resources to any of a number of environmental problems with diminishing benefits requires approaches that strike balances. This report suggests mechanisms for better striking those balances.
Also, we are becoming increasingly aware that many environmental problems do not stop at national boundaries and that international and global environmental problems will increasingly require coordinated attention. This report, consequently, provides the first government in-depth review of the international environment as it pertains to the United States since 1981. The conclusion of the first Environmental Quality Report in 1970 that ``National environmental goals must be developed and pursued in the realization that the human environment is global in nature, and that international cooperation must be a principal ingredient to effective environmental management'' is even more pertinent today.
We can be proud of our environmental achievements. Also, we can look forward to a future of an enhanced national environmental heritage combined with economic prosperity if, as a nation, we move forthrightly to deal with complex environmental issues in a thoughtful, analytical manner, striking appropriate balances between competing social values.
The White House,
July 16, 1987.