Department of Justice Seal

JUNE 26, 2002

     I am delighted to have this opportunity today to share with you this celebration for the accomplishments of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In our work as in life it is important to say "thank you" to those who have made the extra effort; to celebrate our victories; and to recognize those who have helped us be all that we can be. While today we recognize the achievements of many talented individuals, we know also that these accomplishments grow out of great teamwork and strong leadership. I am pleased to be able to share this very special day with you, and to express to you the sincere appreciation of the Department's leadership for the outstanding work you have done in behalf of all our nation's people.

     I want to welcome to the Great Hall and to this special occasion our colleagues from United States Attorneys Offices around the country who are being honored here today. You are an integral part of our Justice team and a strong partner in our environmental enforcement effort. We appreciate all your contributions to the cause of justice, and are pleased you could join us here today.

     I also want to extend a very warm welcome to those of you from our client agencies. We at the Department of Justice place special emphasis on providing exceptional client service. We seek to be your effective advocates and to partner with you to develop winning strategies to achieve your objectives and to resolve disputes with the best result for the American people. We know that when we work together closely we can achieve so much more. Your presence here today and your participation in this celebration is a testament to the importance of our teamwork.

     I would also like to welcome the family and friends of our honorees. We know the importance that your strong support, patience, and encouragement serve in the lives and careers of those we recognize today. In honoring them, we also honor you.

     Today, as you listen to the accomplishments of our colleagues and share in their pride, you will also recognize the grandeur of the mosaic painted by these individual brush strokes. For the vision which we pursue on behalf of the American people is one that impacts all our daily lives and seeks to ensure that future generations can share the resources and great beauty of our earth.

     This past summer my family and I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks in a number of our national parks, including Yellowstone. That experience added resonance to the words of one of my heroes, Teddy Roosevelt, who reflected on his visit to Yellowstone nearly a hundred years earlier. Roosevelt said: "Every man who appreciates the majesty and beauty of wilderness and wildlife should strike hands with the farsighted men who wish to preserve our material resources from wanton destruction . . . This end can only be achieved by wise laws and by a resolute enforcement of the laws."

     Our task here at the Department is to pursue a resolute enforcement of the laws. In doing so we contribute to the conservation of our resources and the preservation of the majesty and beauty of the wilderness. This is a noble pursuit.

     The work which the Environment and Natural Resources Division and our colleagues and teammates from U.S. Attorneys Offices and client agencies do in pursuit of this vision is important to all Americans. It matters not whether you are from a large city, a small town, or a rural community, or whether you live on the coast, in the mountains, or in the vast heartland of our country - we all want and need clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy communities for our families. As a nation, we also share a common understanding of the need to conserve our resources as good stewards of our planet and for the benefit of future generations. We also share an interest in protecting those special places in nature whose grandeur and simple beauty inspire us and bring us peace. For many, there is a spiritual quality in nature that embodies a sense of harmony with all of life.

     Protecting the environment for ourselves and for future generations has become a fundamental American value, like controlling crime, ensuring fairness in the treatment of our people, and preserving the competitiveness of our economic system. We at the Department of Justice have a special trust in protecting these core values of our society. We have accomplished much, but there is still much to do. We are depending on you and your colleagues to help us achieve sound stewardship of our resources and to ensure that our people can live in a healthy environment.

     So today we recognize a few of the many accomplishments that have helped us along this important journey. We know that for each of those recognized today there are many others who tirelessly contribute to this important endeavor. And we know this is a team effort. In that regard, I want to express a special thanks to those who make things happen - the folks who stay late to assemble the filings, to proofread and cite check the documents, to send out the packages; the people who set up the travel, who make sure that all the details are taken care of, who are the backbone of our effort. I am talking about our support staff and the folks in the executive office. Thank you for doing your jobs so well. You are a critical part of this team.

     I would also like to express my thanks to the leadership of the Environment and Natural Resources Division - to Tom Sansonetti and his deputies and section chiefs. I have been honored to have the opportunity to work with you and to benefit from your professional commitment and steady strong leadership.

     Thank you again for the opportunity to share this special occasion with you. You have worked hard to serve the cause of justice and the American people. Through your wisdom, experience, and tireless efforts, you have made our world a much better place in which to live. Your many accomplishments have demonstrated that when we work together we can make a world of difference - and a difference in our world.

     Thank you all for your outstanding work and dedication, and congratulations to those whose special accomplishments we recognize today.