Secretary Salazar Marks Recovery Anniversary in Seattle
February 17, 2010
Thank you very much, Governor Gregoire.
I have worked with Governor Gregoire from my days as Attorney-General and then on in the US Senate and now as Secretary of the Interior. She's always been a leader and very effective.
And here in Washington today as we stand with Pugent Sound behind us, we're looking at a landscape of national significance over here in Washington as the priority.
She's a leader on energy and climate change and on so many other issues that are so important here to Washington, so it's an honor to be here.
Let me say that the context at which I am here today is to talk about what we are doing across the country to bring jobs back and to bring our economy back.
In order for us to look at where we are today, it's important for us to also look back to see where we were a year ago.
It was a year ago that I went with President Obama and Vice-President Biden to Denver, Colorado, where we signed the Recovery Act.
At that point in time, our economy was in a tailspin. We were looking at essentially what was going to be the next Great Depression.
And for those of you who are here who are about my age, you will remember the stories from our fathers and mothers and our grandparents
about the bread lines and the great financial economic stress that almost brought this nation down in the late 1920s and the 1930s.
We were facing and headed in that same direction. And it was the President and his leadership who said, "We will not let the economy go down.
We will not let the country fail - even take action no matter that it be one that is of some political peril,” and we did that.
And as a result, the efforts that have been taken on since that time, we can say today that the rescue efforts here are working.
Last year, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month. That is no longer the case across the country.
Last year, we had a GDP that was shrinking at a rate of nearly 6% a year across the country. Today, our GDP is growing by 5.7%. It's the most in the last quarter that it has grown in the last six years.
There are other measures which are all positive economic metrics on how our economy is being rescued and coming back. There have been 2 million jobs created across the country.
As I said earlier, growth over the last quarter with 5.7%. Nationwide, we have funded about 85,000 projects,
including 12,500 transportation projects which are based in every one of the states of the union.
We also along the way have provided tax relief to 95% of working towns across America who have filed the unemployment insurance to those who have been hit so hard by this great recession.
Here in Washington State, we've created or saved 45,000 jobs and 160 construction projects.
Small businesses like some of those represented here today, there have been 1364 loans that have been given out to small businesses to keep them going or to get them started.
In fact, we have 2.5 million families here in Washington and... 450,000 people. In addition to that, there are 5400 teachers who are working in our school estate because of the Recovery Act that made that possible.
7,400 teachers are requesting that who I believe are the future of our country.
The Department of the Interior has a special role across this country because we are the custodians of the nation's natural resources, the custodians of the nation's history and cultural heritage.
Now we have huge responsibilities across the country and we have invested recovery monies of $3 billion in helping here in Washington D.C.
To offer different examples, we are investing about $150 million here in Washington State.
The biggest of those investments is in the Olympic National Park, for the Elwha River restoration over is and is the largest national park service construction project in our history.
That river restoration project will result in the restoration of so many miles from the largest river restoration efforts in the United States of America.
It will also help us restore the commercial fisheries which is so important this part of the northwest.
We also have invested money in the river basin water project. It's a major water project which will do the conservation efforts will consume over 16,000 acre feet of water.
For those of us from the west, like Governor Gregoire, we know the importance of water. For those people in Washington, especially in the eastern part, we know that water is in fact the lifeblood of agriculture.
For those of us here in the eastern part of Washington, we know the importance of water and all its values. This will be the major, major achievement there.
As with respect to other investments that we have here in DC, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, we have 10 national parks units in the national wildlife projects.
We have 90 projects underway here in Washington State, each one of those parks and national wildlife refuges. And those are the projects including...
And the Indian Reservations chairman, which was Barry Tuksaway that I received here this morning.
There are 25 federal tribes here in the state of Washington. We have the Trust Responsibility here and the Recovery Act here in Washington.
Let me just conclude by saying that it is a painful process that this economy has been through, but we are confident at the national level, President Obama, his economic team, that we are on the right track.
The decisions that we made have truly kept our economy from going over the cliff. And at the same time,
we were able to put money into projects that will not only create jobs now for the short term and in the year to come, but also will create some sustainability over a long period of time.
When I think about the state of Washington and its beauty, I think about how important tourism is to the state of Washington.
I know that there are millions of people who come here to enjoy the natural waters that we see behind us. The Department of Interior is a proud partner for the state of Washington in pushing the jobs...
and we will be back again to places like the national park and wildlife refuges, the Indian reservations as well as our Bureau of Land Management.
And so I appreciate having been given the opportunity to come here in Washington today to talk about the Recovery Act and what a pleasure it is working here in Washington D.C.
Now I know there are other members of Congress who are here who have sent representatives like Congressman.... I also wanted to just mention Senator Patty Murray and Senator Ray Cameron.
I worked with them on a variety of issues over the years. They're wonderful senators from the state of Washington.
Congressman Norm Dicks, who has been a great friend of ours, helped us craft the recovery efforts that have been delegated to the Department of Interior,
and largely through his efforts, much of the investments into a big national park is being made today and will have lasting effects on the state of Washington.
And I would like to call on Pete to deliver a few remarks...