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Bush touts 'new environmentalism,' fewer mandates

President Bush
Bush picks Sequoia National Park to tout his "new environmentalism," saying that "Washington has sometimes relied too much on threat and mandate from afar."  

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California (CNN) -- Standing beneath a majestic, ancient sequoia tree, President Bush outlined Wednesday what he called "a new environmentalism for the 21st century," with fewer dictates from Washington and more cooperation with local governments and landowners.

"In spite of the successes of the past 30 years, at times we've seen needless conflict and policies that have done more harm than good," Bush said in a speech at Sequoia National Park in central California.

"Washington has sometimes relied too much on threat and mandate from afar," he said. "We should be encouraging innovation and high standards from the people closest to the land."

Bush added, "My administration will adopt a new spirit of respect and cooperation because in the end, that is the better way to protect the environment we all share -- a new environmentalism for the 21st century."


Bush highlighted his National Parks Legacy Project, which will provide $5 billion over the next five years to complete a backlog of maintenance projects at national parks across the country, including $440 million next year.

He said that during the next five years the federal government would protect 4,000 miles of river and restore 9,000 acres of parkland to their natural condition.

The president also said his administration will implement new emissions rules, first proposed by the Clinton administration, that are designed to reduce the amount of haze obscuring vistas in national parks.

The president visited Sequoia to emphasize his environmental commitment in the face of criticism that his policies are friendlier to energy producers and big business than they are to the environment. Introducing Bush, Interior Secretary Gale Norton called him a "compassionate conservationist."

Bush said an "ethic of respect for the natural world ... is now a basic commitment of American life. Our duty is to use the land well, and sometimes not to use it at all." He also stressed his commitment to maintaining a "nation of fresh air, clean water and natural beauty."

In fulfilling that commitment, Bush said, "We must protect the claims of nature while also protecting the legal rights of property owners. We will succeed not by antagonizing one another, but by inviting all to play a part in the solutions we seek."

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