The White House

Office of the Press Secretary



For Immediate Release
February 3, 1999

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today, I am signing an Executive Order directing federal agencies to expand and coordinate their efforts to combat a serious environmental threat: the introduction and spread of plants and animals not native to the United States.

Many Americans are all too familiar with gypsy moths and other non-native insects that devour our gardens and trees.  Few realize, however, that countless other non-native plants and animals are upsetting nature's balance, squeezing out native species, causing severe economic damage, and transforming our landscape.  Those affected range from Western ranchers plagued by a weed called leafy spurge to Chicago homeowners whose stately maple trees have fallen prey to the Asian long-horned beetle.  Some experts estimate the cost to the American economy to be as high as $123 billion a year.

The Executive Order mobilizes the federal government to defend against these aggressive predators and pests.  Led by the Department of the Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce, federal agencies will work together to prevent the introduction of non-native species and control those already here.  My fiscal year 2000 budget proposes an additional $29 million to support these efforts, and I urge Congress to join us in protecting our economy and our natural heritage against the threat of non-native species.


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Last updated: 2/3/99