Contact Us

Newsroom

Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

ALL STATE MEETING

06/04/1996
                         Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

                        All-States Meeting
                        Washington, D.C.


                      Prepared for Delivery
                          June 4, 1996


It is a pleasure to join all of you here today. I particularly want to extend a warm welcome to the new commissioners who are
here for the first time, and to all the commissioners, your staffs, and my colleagues from EPA.


I am especially glad to be able to address you now -- at a time when we have been engaged in the most important
environmental debate in two and a half decades.


Twenty-six years ago, this nation joined together -- citizens, business, government, Democrats and Republicans -- in a
bipartisan commitment to protect our health, the air, the water, the land we all share. And together we made a great deal of
progress -- progress of which we can all be proud.


Over the past three years, the Clinton Administration and the states have worked together to build a strong partnership,
through which each level of government can do what it does best, to continue the progress.


We have worked hard to find flexible, common-sense, cost-effective solutions that recognize the strengths that each level of
government brings to the responsibility we share. We have worked to build a new generation of environmental protection.
One that can build on the successes of the past and meet the challenges of the next century. One that can provide real
benefits for real people -- fresh air to breathe, safe water to drink, land that is safe to live on. One that protects where we live
and how we live.


And today, real people in real communities across this country are reaping the benefits.

Today, thanks to what we have done together to implement and enforce the Clean Air Act, 50 million Americans in 55 cities
are breathing cleaner air.


Together, we have accelerated the cleanup of urban properties that have long lain contaminated or abandoned -- returning
them to productive use, creating jobs, creating hope.


In the past three years, working together, we have cleaned up more toxic waste sites than in the previous 12 years of the
Superfund program.


Working together, we set the first ever toxic water quality standards for all of the Great Lakes -- lakes that provide drinking
water for 23 million people.


The Clinton Administration's regulatory reinvention is cutting red tape, to save 20 million hours a year for business, for states,
for communities.


We have expanded the public's Right to Know about toxic chemicals in their communities -- giving people new tools for
controlling pollution in their neighborhoods.


We are helping small business and small communities to comply with environmental laws. But at the same time, we have
vigorously pursued those who ignore environmental standards, polluting the public's air and water. We have collected the
biggest fines in history.


Three years ago, we released the State/EPA Capacity Task Force report, resolving to work together to change how we
work together to protect the public. Today, I'm pleased to report that we have made progress on every recommendation
contained in that report.


We have dramatically increased state participation in developing EPA regulations. This annual meeting, and EPA's annual
planning meetings which are now attended by state commissioners, are just two examples of our increased communication.
Our environmental finance center network has expanded to six centers.


At our meeting two years ago, one of the major themes I heard was the need for grant flexibility.

Under this year's budget, states have the flexibility to combine categorical grants into a single Performance Partnership Grant
-- allowing states to set priorities for meeting environmental needs as you see fit. To date, we have signed two Performance
Partnership Grant Agreements.


Last year when we met, we committed to reform not just the grant process but the whole state/EPA relationship -- to create
Performance Partnerships to help us get the job done.


Today, six Performance Partnership Agreements have been signed -- in Illinois, Delaware, Utah, Colorado, New Jersey, and
Oklahoma -- and a number of others are under discussion.


Through Performance Partnership Grants and through the Environmental Performance Agreements signed by states and the
federal government, we are working together to focus on environmental results. Together, we encourage flexibility. We
encourage innovation. We tailor our efforts to reflect the different capabilities, the different needs of each individual state.


President Clinton has always believed that environmental protection and economic progress go hand in hand. We do not
have to choose between our health and our jobs. In fact, the two are inextricably linked.


Today, the combined rate of unemployment and inflation is at its lowest level since 1968. Under the Clinton Administration,
we have 8.4 million new jobs, 2 million new businesses, 3.6 million new homeowners.


During the same period, toxic pollution from industry has steadily declined. In 1993 alone, toxic pollution was down more
than 12 percent -- in just one year.


A healthy economy begets a healthier environment; a healthy environment -- a stronger economy.

All of these achievements have been made in the face of the most severe assault on public health and environmental
protection in decades.


In the battle over the budget, in the battle over the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, President Clinton stood
firm for public health and environmental protection. As a result, vital protections are in place and will remain in place.


Now, the President has called on all Americans to come together, to restore the bipartisan commitment to the environment
that served this nation so well for the past generation.


On Capitol Hill, on those issues where we have a good bipartisan dialogue at work, we are seeing progress on public health
and environmental protection.


On reauthorizing the Safe Drinking Water Act, a good bipartisan dialogue resulted in the passage of a Senate bill that is a
good first step. Now, a good working process in the House may result in an even better House bill.


This is in contrast to the Clean Water Act, where the Clinton Administration and Congressional Democrats were excluded
from the process, and the bill that was passed by the House would have rolled back decades of progress in cleaning up our
water.


On reauthorizing Superfund, the Clinton Administration is engaging in a constructive dialogue with Senator Chafee of Rhode
Island and Senator Smith of New Hampshire. There has been less open dialogue in the House -- a less productive process
there. But this Administration continues to work hard to achieve responsible Superfund reform -- reform that will speed the
pace of toxic waste cleanups and reduce the cost, while protecting the health of the people of this country.


The American people continue to want strong, effective protection of public health and our environment -- because the job is
not done.


One in three Americans still lives an in area where the air is too polluted to meet federal health standards. Asthma is on the
rise. One in four Americans lives near a toxic waste dump. Forty percent of rivers, lakes, and streams surveyed by the states
are too polluted for fishing or swimming.


The price of a clean, safe environment is that we must always be vigilant. The responsibility will always be ours to protect our
health, our natural resources, our children's future.


Those of us in government -- whether in state government or in the federal government -- have an obligation to our citizens,
to protect our air, our water, our land, the health of our children. The job can only be done if we work in partnership. We
have a tightly interwoven relationship. The whole cloth is achieved only when each of us brings what we can uniquely
contribute.


I look forward to working with you to continue to strengthen our partnership, so that we can continue to protect public health
and our environment using common-sense, cost-effective means. Let us work together to protect our health, our
communities, our economy -- so that all of us and our children and our grandchildren can enjoy a healthy and a prosperous
life.


Thank you.