Today, as we mark the 34th anniversary of Earth Day, we are reminded of our responsibility to protect the environment from further harm. The natural beauty in our own state of Washington is both a testament to the value of our current and past efforts, and an affirmation of the need for us to do more.
This year's Earth Day is particularly important because so many of the protections we have fought for, so many of the gains we have made over the years, are under attack. Earth Day reminds us that, in the face of Bush Administration attempts to degrade our air, forests, rivers, mountains, and oceans, we must stay firm in our commitment to pass on a clean and healthy environment to future generations.
I believe we can achieve this goal if we create and support smart policies that protect our environment while encouraging economic growth. We need to pass a comprehensive national energy policy that stresses responsible use and promotes alternative sources while facilitating energy independence and greater efficiency. We also need an aggressive plan that acknowledges and addresses the serious threats to our health and our planet posed by air pollution and global warming.
I am proud of the work we've done in Washington State to keep environmental conservation a top priority. Across the state, many restoration projects are at work protecting key fish and wildlife habitats. I was thrilled last week to have participated in one such project in Vancouver, where local schoolchildren are working to remove invasive plant species in an effort to restore salmon spawning grounds. Activities like these are helping to improve the integrity of our environment, and the results highlight the difference that each of us can make.
On this day, let’s remember that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. Let's remember that, working together, we can balance both of these important priorities and leave a safer, cleaner planet for generations to come.