The main reason I’m here is simple: I just want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, because the EPA touches on the lives of every single American every single day. You help make sure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat are safe. You protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving towards energy independence.
Over the last 3 years the EPA has faced considerable political attack on its ability to carry out its functions, with Congress voting to cut its budget severely and blocking needed regulatory efforts to constrain greenhouse gas emissions to fight man-made climate change. Obama countered the artificial argument offered by some in Congress that human health and the environment must be sacrificed for economic reasons, saying:
Safeguarding our environment is also about strengthening our economy. I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water and growing this economy in a robust way. I think that is a false debate.
Finally, the President indicated he would stand up for the EPA so that they can do their jobs. He noted:
So all of you, and all of those who served before you, have made a difference. Our environment is safer because of you. Our country is stronger because of you. Our future is brighter because of you. And I want you to know that you’ve got a President who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way as you carry out your mission to make sure that we’ve got a cleaner world.
The White House press release is available here.
The full text can be read here.
A video of the President's speech can be seen below.