THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Flossmoor, Illinois) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 17, 1996
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
Filing Center-Gymnasium Homewood-Flossmoor High School Flossmoor, Illinois
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Will you allow me the liberty of doing one little question -- one little observation on background -- for transcript purposes ON BACKGROUND.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I fully expect the President will say tomorrow that he does intend to proceed with the national monument designation for this very pristine and beautiful area. There are some procedural questions about how to make that announcement that are still being wrestled with and might affect the way he frames that announcement tomorrow. But he intends to -- the President will likely, very late this evening, have a conversation with the Governor and the Congressman before he makes the announcement tomorrow.
Q Will that be -- all the land, all 2 million acres, more than 2 million acres?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, there are different ways you could frame it. My understanding is that they're interested in the plateau region, which is the coal intensive -- the resource intensive region. It's in addition to the Canyonlands, but it's considered an integral part of the proposal that's been developed by the Park Service.
Q Is it possible that he'll declare this national monument, but there will be some sort of exemptions that would allow --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't want to speculate. We'll be dealing with that issue tomorrow and we'll be in a position to brief you tomorrow fully on that.
Q Is the White House going to discuss this issue with either of the two senators from the state?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The discussions that have occurred today have been between the Chief of Staff, the Governor and Congressman Orton.
Q And why not the two senators?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we had dialogue with the two -- I believe, if I'm not mistaken, there has been extensive discussion with the senators and they've been very outspoken on the issue. They are, as you know, among the leadership of the coalition opposed to any national monument designation.
Q -- President's justification of doing that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it would be to preserve this very beautiful wilderness area for future generations of America.
Q Why not make the announcement in Utah itself? Why go to Arizona to --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is -- the four-state area up there is -- if you have been up there you'll know that some of the best resources to accommodate all of you -- in fact, maybe the few resources available to accommodate all of you -- are located down at the South Rim.
Q Will he make this a campaign event and will he contrast his record on the environment with Senator Dole's?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we're in a period now that he is the official nominee of the Democratic Party where all events are campaign events in one fashion or another with some very limited exceptions. So this will be a case for him to argue about the steps that we've taken to protect the nation's environment over recent years.
Q Are you absolutely certain the President can do this without an act of Congress?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's been -- there is ample precedent for that. As many of you know, President Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt announced something similar very close to the same location. The effect and impact of the Antiquities Act has been litigated in the past, and the President obviously would be certain of his legal standing before making any announcement.
Q When you say "procedural," do you --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's all I'm going to say on where we are tonight for tonight.
Q -- do you mean specifically of how he does it or what is contained in the declaration?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not going to get into the specifics. We just -- it's a procedural matter.
Q Are these plans for the discussions likely to sort of cool the heat from the other side? Are they going to be more satisfied if you figure out how to work this --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we have gone to great lengths to try to take their views into consideration. It's an issue of some controversy in the south. And there are many people living in Utah in the affected Rocky Mountain, Inner Mountain West area that have got opinions on both sides of the issue, which we recognize.
Q If there is any change in the background guidance you have given us after the President's speech to the Governor and the Congressman, will you do a page out or something like that if for some reason our morning stories won't be accurate?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, if there is a need to firm it up, we will firm it up, although my intent right now is to let the President's announcement speak for itself tomorrow.
Q But the guidance from you is now, if there's any change in that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The guidance I gave you on background is, I think will stand up. My guess is you might see some of the affected elected officials beginning to comment on it, one pro or con. But that -- we'll try to hold back any response to that until tomorrow.
Q -- explain the timing? Given that you could do it on his own, how does it happen to come in the middle of the presidential campaign?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is an issue that's been under review within the Department of Interior, the Park Service, the EPA. There are other affected federal agencies as well, if I'm not mistaken. It's been under review for quite some time. The President had contemplated addressing this issue on previous occasions, but we've never had an opportunity to do it in a fashion that he wanted to, plus we did want to have close consultations with elected representatives, especially from Utah.
Q -- why it happens about this particular time in the campaign.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As we do a lot of different announcements and issues, we work to fit them into the President's busy calendar, depending on when and where he is and how he would choose to make an announcement. He chooses to make this announcement in an appropriate setting in the region that is affected by the designation, and it happens to fit with where we plan to be in the country.
Q How much --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's been variously reported as $1.7 million and-or $1.8 million, and when we do a brief on it tomorrow we'll have more detailed information. I'm just giving you enough now for overnight purposes.
THE PRESS: Thank you.