Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 3, 1995


Room 450
Old Executive Office Building

10:28 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Scott, for your
introduction and also for your very impressive remarks and your even
more impressive work. Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for the work you
have done on this project; and Administrator Carol Browner; the Chair of
the Council of Environmental Quality Katie McGinty; to Fred Hanson, the
EPA Deputy Administrator who is in charge of Project XL, thank you. And
thank you, Andy Lietz. I thought you were going to start trying to sell
your product up here. (Laughter.)

I must say I was even more impressed when you talked about
how you invited us to visit in New Hampshire, New York, and California.
I thought, there's a man with a strategically placed company.

I want to thank every one of you for being here, and for
helping us to move a little closer to our vision of the 21st century.

Let me say that I sought the presidency because I had a
vision of what I wanted our country to look like in the 21st century. I
wanted the American Dream to be alive for all of our people, and I
wanted our nation to be the strongest force in the world for peace and
freedom and prosperity. And we have a simple straightforward, but quite
comprehensive strategy for achieving that. We believe in pro-growth
economics that rewards entrepreneurs and expands the middle class and
shrinks the under class. We believe in common-sense government that is
smaller, less bureaucratic, more flexible, focusing on partnerships with
the private sector and empowering communities and citizens. And we
believe in rooting all this in old-fashioned mainstream values,
rewarding opportunity, but insisting on responsibility; valuing work,
but recognizing that helping families to be strong and stay together is
even more important; and what the Vice President referred to -- we
believe in community and common ground, not division in the United

The project we announce today reflects all those
strategies. That's what Project XL is all about. It will advance our
economic agenda. It is an example of common sense government. And it
is rooted in our deepest American values. It will help us -- it will
help us -- to make the American Dream available to all Americans in the
21st century, and it will certainly help America to be the world's
strongest nation in the 21st century.

In March I announced the creation of this project, which
gives our companies the freedom to meet tough pollution standards in
ways that make sense to them, instead of following a government rule
book. Today we are announcing the first eight pilot projects for these
cutting edge initiatives: Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, HADCO, Intel, Merck,
the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 3M and the South Coast Air
Quality Management District. All of them have put together projects
which will help us to blaze the way to a new era of environmental
protection. Two of them are represented in the Congress by my friend,
Senator Robb, and Congressman Vento. I thank them for coming today and
for their support of this from an economic and an environmental

I want to thank all of the companies here and the other
organizations for their dedication. And I want you to know that we are
here to honor your pledge to reduce pollution creatively, effectively,
and in partnership with your neighbors.

I want to especially commend the Department of Defense,
which is committed to undertaking a similar effort at military
installations throughout our country. And this is very important
because of all the base closings. And a lot of you are very familiar
with our efforts to accelerate our ability to turn these closed bases
back to communities and to turn them into community assets. It's a huge
issue. And the environmental difficulties and challenges have slowed
that effort, and I thank all the representatives from the Defense
Department here for their commitment to this endeavor because it will
have a major impact on both the environment and our ability to spark
economic opportunity in communities throughout the nation.

To industry, Project XL shows that protecting the health
and safety of our citizens doesn't have to come at the expense of a
bottom line. And to those in the environmental community, XL shows that
strengthening the economy doesn't have to come at the expense of the air
we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.

I hope to our citizens that this will stand as an example
of what we can do when we work together and when we look out for one
another, when we recognize that our obligations to one another, when
properly fulfilled, actually help us to improve our own lot in life.

I guess there was a time not so long ago that if I said
there was a government program named XL, everybody would have thought it
stood for extra large, and was well-named. (Laughter.) I want to say
again, that not withstanding my own size, this does stand for excellence
and leadership. (Laughter.) We want to back our words up by action and
we intend to do so.

Much of our effort in developing common sense government
has been devoted simply to reducing the sheer size of government. Our
government was organized for a much more sort of top-down, bureaucratic
industrial age than the one in which we are living.

Thanks to the Vice President, our reinventing government
task force, and the support we have received in the past from the
Congress, there are now 163,000 fewer people working for the federal
government than there were the day I was sworn in as President. With
next year's already planned down-sizing, the government next year will
be the smallest it's been since Mr. Kennedy was President. And as a
percentage of the federal -- the civilian work force of the United
States, next year the federal government will be the smallest it has
been since 1933. That is an astonishing change in a short period of

And I want to say, I think we've done it in the right way.
Like I say, that if you want to read about it, the Vice President's got
a little book out here. (Laughter.) He made me write a forward to it.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's available in New York, California
-- (laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Philip Howard, the author of the wonderful
book, "The Death of Common Sense," also wrote an introduction. And the
Vice President gets no money out of the book. That's part of
reinventing government. (Laughter.) Work harder, be poorer. (Laughter
and applause.) But this book reflects what it is we're trying to do.
The reason I bring it up is that most Americans don't know that the
government is 163,000 smaller, don't know how much smaller it is. But
there are maybe some bad reasons for that, but I think there are two
good reasons I'd like to mention.

One reason is that the federal employees were treated
properly in the downsizing. They weren't just put on the street. There
were generous early retirement packages approved by the Congress. There
were generous separation packages. They were treated with the dignity
and respect to which they were entitled. So we didn't just have a slash
and burn policy. The other reason is that the federal employees who
stayed were able to dramatically increase their productivity so that
people didn't notice it in diminished services.

And so I think what I'd like to do is to say I'm very proud
of the fact that we have downsized the government more rapidly and to a
greater extent than at, as far as I know, any time in history. But the
real credit goes to the federal employees who have continued to do the
work of America with good humor and increased creativity. And I'm very
proud of that.

And so the first thing we did was to try to shrink the
government. The second thing we're doing is getting rid of 16,000 of
the 86,000 pages of government regulations. I think the most successful
talk I've given since I've been President was at the White House
Conference on Small Business where all I did was simply read them the
federal regulation on grits. (Laughter.) Some of you not from the
South don't even know what grits are probably. (Laughter.) But all of
us who do found it amazing that there had to be a federal regulation to
define it and that it was two pages long. (Laughter.) And there wasn't
a dry eye in the place when I got done reading it. (Laughter.) Most of
them were laughing and crying; some of them were actually crying to
think their government had done such a thing. (Laughter.)

So every department has got a quota, a target, and we are
in the process of getting rid, just purely getting rid of 16,000 of the
86,000 pages of federal regulations.

But that is only part of the vision because common-sense
government recognizes that there is still a public interest in America
that has to be advanced, that can only be advanced when the elected
representatives of the American people use the power given to them under
the Constitution of the United States to deal with the problems of the
moment in a public way, and to do it in the way that is the most
efficient, the most effective for the moment. That is what we are
celebrating today.

The environmental regulations that we are reforming today
were designed for a time when the environmental problems were different,
when there were in some places dark clouds of pollution literally
blocking the sun; a time when the Bald Eagle was on the edge of
extinction; a time when we had a river in America that actually caught
fire. And for people who think it's been a bad thing, this
environmental effort, I'll ask you to remember that all happened in the
lifetime of everybody in this room.

These laws and regulations have served us well. Though
we've got a lot more work to do, we've made a lot of progress as a
people. Our environment is the envy of the world compared to other
industrial countries. But what worked yesterday is not adequate for
today, and we now know it certainly won't work tomorrow. And going
through Washington is plainly not the only road to ensuring a cleaner or
a safer world. That's why we have challenged our businesses and our
communities to work together to achieve better results where thy live
and work at lower cost.

At the core of this whole approach are the values I
mentioned earlier. We are saying the government should enhance
opportunity, but should insist on responsibility. The people who are in
Project XL are saying we want the opportunity to do this in a better,
more sensible, less bureaucratic, more hassle-free way. But we
recognize that before opportunity comes responsibility. And our
commitment is to maintain high standards.

To understand what we're trying to do, the Vice President
used a see-saw analogy, which I thought was pretty good, by the way. I
may steal it from him tomorrow. (Laughter.) Think of a high-jump
competition. In this case, the government would set the bar in the
high-jump competition, and set it high, as high as it takes to ensure
that our people have the essential security of knowing that the world
that we live in will be vibrant, healthy and clean. But we wouldn't
tell the government how to jump over the bar. If you've ever watched
the high-jump competition, people jump in different ways. The way it
works today is the government gives you a rule book, and if you can't
jump over in the prescribed way you just never get over the bar. What
we want to say is, here is the bar; if you can figure out how to jump
over it, any old way -- the old way, the new way, a different way,
forward or backward -- all you have to do is jump over the bar. Then
you make the grade.

Project XL is built on the simple premise that in many
cases companies know their business a whole lot better than the
government does; that they understand how best to reduce their own
pollution; that we will all benefit if private enterprise brings its
energy, its innovation, its creativity to the task of reducing
pollution; and that cost-effective ways that are found to clear certain
specific goals by certain companies and certain industries will
certainly be adopted by others and it will help us to create whole new
sectors of economic opportunity by promoting a whole new round of
entrepreneurialism in environmental cleanup.

We also recognize that if companies have the freedom to
devise their own strategies, they will have the obligation to work with
and consult with their neighbors.

This project marks the end of one-size-fits-all government
regulations. We know what works for one community and one company simply
doesn't necessarily work for others. This is real reform. It eases the
burden of regulation. It helps to achieve superior environmental
performance. It gives each company the chance to find its own way while
always, always reaffirming the responsibilities that all companies have
to their communities.

You know, I look at Project XL and I have a hard time
understanding those who are still fighting yesterday's regulatory
battles today -- those who still think we're only faced with two
choices: no regulation at all, or more regulation. Under the banner of
regulatory reform, some of these would weaken or even abolish previous
environmental safeguards. The Republican majority in Congress would
deny citizens the right to know what's in the air they breathe and the
water they drink. They'd rob our agencies of the ability to enforce
environmental laws at all. They'd slow the cleanup of toxic waste in
our communities.

I tell you today that I do not intend to let this happen.
As you know, I have been very clear about the 17 special interest
provisions the congressional majority put in its EPA budget. These
riders would seriously jeopardize the enforcement of our vital
environmental laws. And I was very, very pleased yesterday to see what
I hope is only the beginning of a trend that will sweep this Congress
when a bipartisan majority in the House sit up for our basic values, for
common-sense government, and voted against these 17 riders. I hope
there will more of this in the future. (Applause.)

Project XL is proof that we can find a better way. We
don't have to -- it's also about common ground. Why should we have a
fight about this when we all will be better served if we work together to
protect our environment and to promote our economic interests? There is
clearly a wrong way and a right way to change the regulatory environment
of America and to get rid of outdated regulations. The wrong way is to
toss away our essential health and environmental concerns just because we
don't have the patience to sit down and fix them.

The right way is to roll up our sleeves, make regulations
work, demand responsibility, but give opportunity. It may take a little
longer, it may be a little harder, but it is the right way to meet the
challenges of the next century. And I want to say again -- the most
important thing I want to say is I honor these eight projects and the
people who are committed to doing it in this way. I honor the
commitment the Defense Department has made to do this in its sights.

If we can prove that this works, we can literally change
the way Americans look with fear either on environmental threats, or on
the government, or on some new economic enterprise. We can literally
give the future back to the American people at the grass-roots level,
and have the government doing what it ought to do: be in the business
of defining the public interest, making it clear, making sure it's
advanced, but not prescribing every little jot and tiddle detail about
how people pursue it in every business, in every community, in every
enterprise all across the land. That is our goal.

Project XL is designed to put the focus back where it
should be -- on progress, not process; on families and businesses, not
government. We have a model here that I think will be good not only for
protecting the environment, not only as an example of effective
regulatory reform -- I think it's a blueprint for the future. I think
it's a way we can deal with a whole range of our other economic and
social problems.

A lot is riding on those of you who have agreed to
participate in this project. I think we can really change the way
people look at our common problems is we can prove, as I believe you
will, that this works.

I am deeply indebted to the Vice President, and to Carol
Browner, and to Katie McGinty, to all those in our administration who
have done this. But as I said, we really respect more than anything the
companies and the people from the Department of Defense that are
prepared to engage in this great endeavor. We have to make this work.
This is the only way to take our country into the 21st century with a
growing economy, being steadfast to our values, with a common-sense
government that keeps the American Dream alive for all. Let's prove the
cynics wrong.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


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