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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Georgetown University College Republicans, Washington, D.C.

01/13/2003
Talking Points for Governor Christine Todd Whitman,

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

to the

Georgetown University College Republicans

Washington, D.C.

January 13, 2003


Thank you for that introduction. I = m pleased to be with you tonight.

I want to thank the Georgetown College Republicans for inviting me here tonight.

When I was in college, college Republicans were an endangered species B perhaps the only one some people actually wanted to make extinct.

Of course, times were tougher for college Republicans back then.

The President was a Democrat. Both houses of Congress had been in Democratic control for nearly 15 years. And most of our professors seemed to be Democrats, too.

But that = s history. Today, the Republicans control the Congress and the White House.

And it = s probably not as easy being a College Democrat today as it was back when I was in school.

But to those of you here who are Democrats, don = t worry B politics is the one game where the clock never runs B you = re time will come. I just hope it = s not anytime soon.

I want to speak with you today about the environment.

Since I joined the EPA two years ago, I = ve had the chance to travel our country.

I = ve visited 40 states, from Maine to Hawaii, and I = ve seen, first hand, the tremendous progress America has made B and is making B to improve the state of our environment.

It = s been 32 years since President Nixon established the EPA. During that time, the condition of America= s environment B our air, water, and land B has improved incredibly.

Over the past two years, this Administration has built on the record of the previous three decades.

Of course, if you listen to the media B or the attacks of our friends in the environmental community B you = d think the Bush Administration was rolling back the clock.

There is an effort underway to try to convince the American people that President Bush and the Republican Party don = t care about the environment.

They want people to think that we are trying to undo the environmental progress of the past and want to frustrate any future environmental progress.

As you might guess, I take strong exception to those characterizations.

They = re not accurate. They = re not true. And they do a disservice to the American people and to our shared goal of environmental progress.

As our country = s B and our party = s B future leaders, I think it = s important you know the truth about President Bush = s environmental record. I = d like to take just a few minutes to set things straight.

The environment is an issue that people care about, without regard to party or politics.

I believe all Americans share the goals of this Administration B to leave America = s air cleaner, its water purer, and its land better protected than it was when we took office.

We have made real progress in meeting that goal. Let me tell you about it.

First, cleaner air. Earlier this year, President Bush proposed the most significant improvement to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade.

His Clear Skies proposal will achieve mandatory reductions of 70 percent in three of the most noxious air pollutants emitted by power plants B nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.

And that means cleaner air to breathe for all Americans B which means fewer asthma attacks, fewer hospital visits, and fewer early deaths.

Clear Skies will achieve these pollution reductions faster and cheaper than under current law.

Despite these benefits, our plan is being attacked as a rollback of the Clean Air Act.

Sometimes I think there are those who would rather score political points than win environmental victories.

But we are going to work hard this year to enact Clear Skies.

And while some have been trying to muddy the water over our environmental record, we= ve been working to make America = s water purer. I believe that water issues will be one of the most important challenges we face in the 21st century.

I believe that achieving the next generation of environmental progress in water will demand the adoption of a watershed-based approach.

I recently heard a watershed defined as A communities connected by water @ B which is a good reminder that we all live downstream from someone.

When a suburban homeowner uses a certain pesticide on their lawn, or changes the oil in their car in the driveway, rain can carry the residue far from where it was originally deposited.

When city dwellers aren = t careful about what is deposited on their streets, that waste can wind up in the ocean. This is called non-point source pollution B pollutants that aren = t dumped directly into water but that wind up there anyway.

Nonpoint source pollution is now the major contributor to water pollution nationwide.

In fact, every eight months, non-point sources put as much oil into our coastal waters as did the Exxon Valdez.

The President = s proposed budget includes funding for a watershed initiative that will build partnerships for cleaner water in 20 of America = s most threatened watersheds.

It will help us craft solutions for each watershed based on its unique needs and challenges.

And to make it easier to advance watershed protection, earlier today I announced our new Water Quality Trading Policy B a market-based initiative that will reduce water pollution quicker and at less costs than under current regulations.

Like Clear Skies, our Water Quality Trading Policy is based on sound, market-based principles.

It reflects our belief that by unleashing the creativity and ingenuity of the American people to achieve shared goals, we can achieve better results for less money than under a command and control approach.

Our focus on watersheds will also help transform the way Americans think about how they can make a difference for cleaner water.

As people learn more about the ways even small, individual actions can add up to big environmental consequences, they will become even more active partners in our effort to make America = s waters purer.

Finally, let me touch on the land B how we are working to better protect it.

The most significant accomplishment in this area is the passage of historic brownfields legislation.

A brownfield is a parcel of land that is or may be polluted and therefore sits unused B an blight on the landscape and a drain on the vitality of the community in which it is located.

This new law, which the President signed last year, will help cleanup thousands of the most difficult brownfields that remain in America.

It will transform neighborhood eyesores into community assets. I = m convinced it will be seen as one of the landmark pieces of legislation of the 107th Congress.

And I = m pleased that the President asked for $200 million to help state and local governments tackle brownfields projects. That = s more than double from last year.

Of course, another way we can preserve our land is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

That is why EPA recently launched a new, market-based initiative to increase the rate of recycling across America and to help reduce the disposal of hazardous waste.

So, as I look at the record over the past two years I = m proud of what the Bush Administration has accomplished for the environment.

If you want to learn more, visit our web site www.epa.gov.

If you do, you = ll see that because of what we are doing, we will have cleaner air to breathe, purer water to drink, and better protected land on which to build our dreams.

And that = s important, not just because it means a cleaner environment, but because it also means a healthier America.

So thank you again to the College Republicans for asking me to be here tonight.

Thank you.