President Obama said today that the conservation of American public lands and natural resources is about more than protecting the environment, "it's about strengthening our economy."
"The bottom line is this: There will always be people in this country who say we've got to choose between clean air and clean water and a growing economy, between doing right by our environment and putting people back to work," the president said at a conference on conservation at the Interior Department. "I'm here to tell you that is a false choice."
"With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and protect our environment for ourselves and our children," he said.
The president argued that restoring public lands helps to attract tourists and bolster an outdoor economy that, according to the White House, supports more than 9 million jobs and brings in more than $1 trillion a year.
At a time of rising gas prices, Obama said conservation can also help reduce dependence on foreign oil and called for the development of clean energy on public lands.
"We're getting another painful reminder of why developing new energy is so important for our future," he said. "But if we're going to take control of our energy future and avoid these gas price spikes in the future, then we've got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and biofuels, and more."