APRIL 16, 1953
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Ever since the days when my uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, was President I have been hearing about the need for the conservation of our natural resources. I have been impressed by the importance of the government owning a sufficient amount of these resources to conserve them for the people as a whole to profit from them.
At the present time, however, there seems to be a trend toward wrecking our Federal policy of conservation. Certain persons in and out of Congress regard that policy as a Democratic innovation, and, according to their reasoning, therefore, Republicans must be opposed to it.
Personally, I believe conservation of all natural resources is somewhat like foreign policy. It cuts across party lines; it is of interest to the people as a whole, regardless of politics. Therefore, I want to bring to the attention of the people certain things that seem to me a dangerous trend today.
Let us take tidelands oil. That reference to oil production would imply that we were talking about oil to be found between low and high tides along our shores but that is not the fact. The Supreme Court decided that those states that had oil between low and high tides owned it. The discussion now deals with the submerged lands under the ocean, far beyond that tidewater area. These lands and the oil from them, I think, should be held by the Federal government for the people's use in time of emergency.
Next, we see in the papers the announcement that the time has come to return all forest preserves and national parks to the states, and that might subsequently mean, in part at least, to private ownership. Our forests in strategic areas should be controlled by the Federal government, for water supplies, for one thing, are affected by forests. The land owned by the government can be systematically forested and replanted and we are then sure of a continual flow of timber. This we can never be sure of in areas under private ownership, and even certain states have not shown too much concern about conservation of their forests or of wildlife.
Recently I read a statement by former President Herbert Hoover, who said that all power-generating projects should be returned or turned over to private ownership. The present public-owned developments such as TVA have acted as yardsticks. They have brought down the cost of power to the consumer, not just because they provided cheap power but because the private companies operating in nearby areas could not charge more to the consumer than did the public project. Yardsticks have been found useful all over the world. Are we now going to give them up?
The present Administration is inclining more and more toward the interests of big business, big farmers, big cattlemen, big power companies and less and less toward the interests of the individual consumer or the small-business man or the small farmer or small cattleman.
Certain things, it must be admitted, can be done best by the big companies—for instance, the necessary research and experimentation for the development of the peacetime use of atomic energy. The government probably would be slower than private industry and the smaller companies could not afford to do it. Nevertheless, many other things must be treated quite differently.
This desire to return everything to private ownership and operation even extends to our Point 4 program. The Secretary of State says the Point 4 program should be given up and everything done in foreign countries should be done by private organizations. He is said to believe we cannot buy friendship through our Point 4 program.
I should like to point out it was never thought that that would be possible, but by cooperation abroad we may help to develop markets for our own goods, and that is certainly a legitimate activity of the Federal government.