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Remarks at Lincoln Park Earth Day Event in Lincoln Park, New Jersey

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Wednesday, April 22, 2010

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Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at Lincoln Park Earth Day Event
Lincoln Park, New Jersey

Good morning everybody. It is terrific to be in here in Lincoln Park.

Today is of course Earth Day. Forty years ago, people just like all of us here gathered in cities and towns all across America to call for a cleaner world.

They demanded that people and businesses do things differently. And while they started a global movement, they also worked to make changes one park, one river, and one shoreline at a time.

Forty years after the first Earth Day, we’ve gathered here to honor the people who have made the Lincoln Park Wetlands Restoration Project a reality.

This project is of course about conservation and preserving America's environment. But it also gives us a glimpse into our possible economic future as well.

This past summer President Obama noted that there is a lot of misinformation out there that there's somehow a contradiction between a clean economy and economic growth.

There is no contradiction, and this wetlands project proves this very point.

From his first day in office, President Obama has linked our economic recovery with a clean energy and more sustainable use of our resources.

One of his first acts in office was to sign a Recovery Act that included $80 billion in clean energy investments that will help double America’s renewable energy-generating capacity in three years, while creating thousands of good jobs.

This Recovery Act funding also included $167 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, to award grants for coastal restoration.

Out of more than 800 applications, NOAA chose the fifty most promising projects from across the country that held the most potential to immediately impact the environment and help our economy.

Nationwide, this money will go towards:

  • Restoring more than 8,900 acres of habitat;
  • Removing obsolete and unsafe dams around 700 stream miles so fish can better migrate and spawn; and
  • Creating the equivalent of more than 250 full-time jobs, and potentially 1,000 full-time jobs once all 50 projects are complete.

And that’s why we’re here today in Lincoln Park.

This wetlands restoration project holds tremendous potential.

It’s why Lincoln Park received $10.6 million, which is NOAA’s largest Recovery Act grant.

These funds will be coupled with about $3.6 million in other money from a handful of state, local and federal agencies.

And together, this funding will enable an ecological oasis to be created right outside New York City.

When it’s done, the Lincoln Park Wetlands Restoration Project will have restored 35 acres of wetlands, created tidal creeks and made a juvenile fish foraging habitat along the Hackensack River. It will benefit a wide variety of fish and wildlife. And it will also benefit people right here in New Jersey.

This project will have created 40 full-time jobs for workers who had previously been unemployed.

These jobs are certainly good for people today. But they also are important for preserving the coastlines that are absolutely essential to America's economy.

Consider that commercial and recreational fishing alone employ about 2 million people and contribute $185 billion to the nation’s economy.

These staggering economic numbers make it all the more important that America turns the idea behind Earth Day into a 365-day-a-year under undertaking.

On the first Earth Day 40 years ago, we didn't fully understand the connection between our economic and environmental health.

We didn’t see the potential for millions of new jobs in building a clean energy economy.

Now we know these things – and it makes it all the more important that we work to preserve this world we live in.

And for those who have taken action, we need to recognize the tremendous work they have done for their community and their country.

There were quite a few people who are responsible for the Lincoln Park Wetlands Restoration Project.

I’d like to thank our local partners who are making this project a success, including the:

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Hudson County Division of Parks; and the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation.

And I’d also like to take a moment to recognize David Bean, the lead project manager for Lincoln Park at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Without his tireless efforts, we would not be here celebrating this project today.

The NOAA Restoration Center has established an award called “Excellence in Restoration,” which publicly recognizes partners who have achieved a level of excellence in their restoration efforts.

And David clearly fits the bill.

So I'd like to ask David to come up and accept the award for this project.

Congratulations, David, and thank you again for all your hard work and dedication.

And, I thank you all for joining me today to celebrate Earth Day and the restoration of the Lincoln Park and its wetlands.