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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Jackson Hole, Wyoming)
For Immediate Release                                     August 13, 1996     
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             IN SIGNING THE 
                        AND FAIRNESS ACT OF 1996

Teton Science School

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

11:35 A.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Let me, first of all, thank the Teton Science School, its board members and its staff who hosted us today. I want to acknowledge the school's 15 professional residents who are graduating today and heading off to teach in environmental centers around the country. We thank you for what you're doing.

I want to acknowledge Superintendent Jack Nichols and the staff of the Grand Teton National Park, and Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Sandra Key. And I want to thank all of you.

My family and I are having a wonderful time again in Wyoming this year. And yesterday we had a fabulous day for America when we announced the agreement not to build the gold mine near the northeast corner of Yellowstone -- (applause) -- and that the mining company would agree to clean up pollution at the site, spend over $20 million to do it, including pollution that they did not cause, in return for which the United States will recognize their property rights and their investment and make a land swap.

So I think it was an agreement in which everyone won. And again, I would say what I said yesterday -- I hope that we can see the kind of coming together in positive resolution of these matters that we saw yesterday in many, many other areas. We have to find a way to preserve our environment and to grow our economy, and we don't have to make many of the choices that seem to be frozen in the public debate today. So I was very encouraged by yesterday.

I also want to say that this is a very good day -- thank you. (Laughter.) I planted those people out there. (Laughter.) I want to thank the members of the energy industry who have come from all over America to be with me today as I sign the Oil and Gas Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act into law.

This is the latest in a series of bipartisan efforts which passed the Congress -- in some cases unanimously, in other cases almost unanimously -- at the very end of the session before the August recess began. They represented a dramatic departure from what happened in 1995 and the first half of 1996. We have welfare reform, health care reform, a higher minimum wage, better retirement provisions and other incentives for people who are running small businesses in America, safer food and drinking water as a result of these initiatives.

And I hope that this is an omen of things to come, because this is the way America moves forward -- when we tone our rhetoric down and work together and role up our sleeves and try to meet our legitimate interests and protect our values, come to grip with these challenges, we can do it. And I am very, very pleased by what happened in the last few days of Congress. And as I said, I think the American people are, and I hope we can see more of it.

Let me tell you a little about this act, which passed with unanimous bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress. By simplifying the way that royalties are collected and clarifying existing laws, this law will speed the collection of millions of dollars in federal and state revenues which the government is due, create many new jobs for America's workers, and most important of all, will help to reduce our own nation's reliance on foreign oil and gas.

Our economy, our environment, our national security depend upon a healthy domestic oil and gas industry. Many Americans don't know it, but a significant percentage of the oil and natural gas produced in the United States comes from federal lands. Taxpayers earn about $4 billion a year from these sales. Tens of thousands of Americans work in energy production jobs on federal lands. Until today, regulatory red tape and conflicting court rulings had discouraged many companies from taking full advantage of these resources.

I have been trying to change this since I took office. Our administration has worked with the Congress, with governors, state legislators, and others to stimulate domestic energy production while protecting our environment. Recently I lifted the 23-year ban against Alaskan oil exports and actively supported efforts to increase production in the Gulf of Mexico.

About a year ago this month I made a commitment to many of the people who are here with me today to win the passage of the bill I'm about to sign. Today we're helping to protect our energy future as we go forward into the 21st century stronger than ever.

Yesterday we showed that we can do these things in a way that protects our natural environment for future generations. Again I will say, when we work together there is nothing that can stop America. We are celebrating that working together now and I hope we will have more of it. We have plenty of challenges ahead, but the best times for this country will be the 21st century if we do what we should do and if we do it together.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:40 A.M. MDT