(CNN) – He's been out of the White House for more than a decade, but former President Bill Clinton received a lasting accolade not far from the executive mansion Wednesday when the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency was re-christened in his honor.
Congress approved the name change last year, adding the 42nd president to a select list of former government officials immortalized in marble and cement in the nation's capital.
Speaking to EPA officials from his administration, Clinton spoke for nearly 20 minutes and stressed that seemingly opposing interests could work together toward a cleaner environment.
"You can have a growing economy with more jobs and rising incomes and a sustainable environmental policy. You can protect our precious natural resources and you can promote the public health and you can fight climate change," he said.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, praised Clinton's efforts during his tenure on increasing standards on drinking water and air pollution. The 42nd president was also joined by Carol Browner, who was EPA administrator during his time in the White House. She delivered a lengthy speech heralding the Clinton-era environmental achievements.
Clinton's building, situated at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, is a neoclassical behemoth situated in Washington's Federal Triangle neighborhood. It's notable for its large semi-circular façade, as well as the doric-columned front to the Mellon Auditorium, which the building houses.
It was constructed in the 1930s and contains several architectural flourishes, including a well-known set of bas relief murals on its interior.
Next door is the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, a federal building that also houses private sector firms. Reagan's name was also attached to Washington's National Airport in 1998.
A block away from the Clinton building sits the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, named for the agency's former boss J. Edgar Hoover (a controversial figure accused by critics of abusing his post's power). The FBI is currently weighing options for their deteriorating head office, including demolition.
Across the street from the FBI sits the Justice Department edifice named for Robert F. Kennedy, who served as attorney general during the 1960's. Former President George W. Bush made that change in 2001.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is the namesake of the massive Second Empire-style building next to the White House that houses executive offices, and the compound that comprises the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, is named for George H.W. Bush, who once served as chief of the intelligence agency.
Federal agency buildings are also named for Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt and Gerald Ford. And of course the capital itself carries the name of the country's first president, George Washington.
The EPA has long been a politically polarizing agency – some Republicans have even argued for eliminating the organization altogether. When he was president, Clinton battled with Republicans over a number of issues, including placing a nominee to head the EPA.
In his post-presidency, Clinton has been an advocate for taking steps to combat climate change.
Congratulations William Jefferson Clinton.
The FBI is currently weighing options for their deteriorating head office, including demolition.
If they construct a new building, then I would hope that they name a new one after George H.W. Bush. I never understood why they named the current building after someone as infamous as Hoover, anyway.
Ho hum! Clintons! Go away!
Congratulation Mr President!
A well deserved honor and tribute! Thank you to President Clinton for years of economic growth and prosperity. President Hillary Clinton will do the same.
Congratulations Bill. And won't that set off the wing nuts. LOL
I would have hoped that they named it after the president who started it - Nixon. I can see that there is some connection since Clinton had the standards increased.