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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to the Woman Owned Small Business Counseling Session, As Prepared

03/17/2009
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all for coming here today and spending your morning with us. This is an important – and timely – gathering.

Yesterday, President Obama held a meeting in the East Room of the White House. He invited Treasury Secretary Geithner, the owners of several small business from across the country, and representatives from different community banks.

At the meeting, the President unveiled a $15 billion plan to revitalize American small businesses – to get credit moving through the economy again, and provide access to financing that is the lifeblood of small business.

He said that companies like yours are “the heart of the American economy.” Not only that, but that you are the “heart of the American dream.”

Small businesses account for more than half of the jobs in the private sector. In the last decade, they created almost 70% of all new jobs.

Something else the President mentioned was that small businesses generate 13 times more patents per employee than other companies.

I’m a scientist by training, and I can tell you how amazing that is. I also know that the next frontiers of environmental protection – clean energy, conservation, better and more efficient technologies – all of these things are likely to emerge in one form or another from the desktop of an inspired and dedicated innovator at a small business.

Our willingness to work together is more important now than it has ever been.

Because we are at a crossroads in our country’s history.

As a nation, we face the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Every American is anxious about what that means – not just for their future but for the next generation as well. I’m certain I don’t have to remind any of you about those challenges and those anxieties.

But I can reassure you that this administration is working around the clock to get the economy moving again.

At the same time that we face this economic crisis, there isn’t a moment to lose in protecting the public health and confronting the rapid advance of climate change.

This is not an academic discussion anymore. We don’t have the luxury of a far-off day of reckoning.

The world’s leading scientists predict notable, if not drastic, changes within our lifetimes if we don’t get started right away.

Climate change poses very real threats to our economic stability. It jeopardizes the public health. And it raises serious concerns about our national security.

For those reasons and more, we are embarking immediately on an aggressive environmental agenda.

The President has committed to double our clean energy use in the next three years. And we’ve set an ambitious goal of cutting more than 80% of harmful greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

Now, let me say: I am a mother of two young boys. Any of the parents in here know very well – that makes me an active American consumer.

I also want my sons to go to college and get jobs when they get older, so both the short- and long-term strength of the economy are not only professional, but personal concerns of mine.

I know what it’s like for people who are struggling to make ends meet, especially in these times.

The last thing EPA wants to do – and the last place we want to position the environmental movement or the climate change debate – is somehow standing in the way of the nation’s economic recovery.

In fact, it’s become clearer every year that the environmental community and the business community have a shared vision. We may be accustomed to talking about our plans in different ways, or thinking that we are opposite sides of this issue – but we are moving towards the same goals.

Thankfully, we have in President Obama a leader who has denounced the false choice between a green economy and a green environment.

President Obama and many others have stood up to say that our economic future and our environmental future are inextricably linked. They, of course, are right.

When I was in New Jersey, I was fond of saying that every time I saw a plant with emissions controls, or a Superfund cleanup, those were good-paying jobs.

The same can be true all across the country. The way out of our economic challenges is through a clean energy transition, and the creation of millions of jobs in green sectors.

That is abundantly clear in the language of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The New York Times wrote that standing alone, the clean energy measures in the stimulus plan represented “the biggest energy bill in history.”

At Recovery.gov, the emblem they have designed is divided into a red portion, a blue portion, and a green portion – representing those billions of dollars invested in growing the green economy.

For EPA, that means an investment of more than $7 billion in “shovel ready” projects that protect human health and safeguard the environment.

That includes things like refurbished water infrastructure, cleanup of Brownfield and Superfund sites, projects to cut emissions in diesel engines, and repair work on leaking underground storage tanks that are polluting land and groundwater supplies.

What that all means is that right now, we have greater opportunities to protect public health and the environment than any other time in the history of the EPA.

In the congress and throughout the nation, there is tremendous, bipartisan support for green jobs, smart growth, clean energy, and the long list of ideas and innovations that will grow the economy and improve our planet.

So whenever I speak to anyone – whether they are reporters, industry leaders, community members, or other stakeholders, I’ve tried to send a very clear, consistent message. It’s one of the messages that I’m here to give you, and that I hope you will join with me in carrying to your communities.

And it’s that EPA is back on the job.

The great news is that we have plenty of support.

In the budget he sent to congress last month, President Obama gave the EPA the highest level of funding that we have seen in our 39 year history.

That also means that we have the highest level of expectation that we have seen in our 39 year history.

So we are already getting started.

In less than 50 days, we’ve already announced plans to review the California waiver on auto emissions and make a long-overdue determination on endangerment from greenhouse gases.

We're focusing resources on monitoring toxic air pollution around certain schools, to ensure that our nation's children are not exposed to harmful toxins in the place where they go to learn.

Last week, we proposed comprehensive reporting requirements on greenhouse gas emissions.

And we did that in a way that ensures that we are getting the best possible information and without putting burdens on your businesses or any other small employers.

The reporting requirements will apply to companies with emissions equal to about 4,500 cars on the road.

That threshold exempts the vast majority of small businesses and still allows us to track 85 to 90 percent of the greenhouse emissions being produced – again proving that we don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy.

We know the value of thriving small businesses for our national economic stability. I am and will continue to be a dedicated supporter of small businesses – and a special advocate of women-owned small businesses.

Yours is a sector of the economy that last year put 7.3 million people to work, and generated $1.1 trillion in sales.

We fully expect to see those numbers go up in the years ahead – and EPA is committed to being part of that success.

The Office of Small Business Programs under Jeanette Brown has done extraordinary work to open new opportunities to women-owned small firms.

In the last fiscal year, the Agency awarded 5.8% of its contract dollars to women-owned small businesses – around $89 million.

And though we exceeded our goal and earned a “Green” rating by the Small Business Administration, those are numbers we fully expect to go up.

As the Small Business Administration moves forward with its newly revitalized plans for the coming years, EPA will continue to work on exceeding our women-owned small business contracting goals.

In short, we are here to partner with you. I hope that yours and every small business will look to the EPA as a market of opportunities.

We live in a country that embraces the spirit of those who are willing to take a chance and succeed. As entrepreneurs and as women, your initiative and enterprise hold the promise for America's future.

As President Obama said, “the heart of the American economy” and “the heart of the American dream.”

And we want to be part of that. I encourage all of you to take full advantage of today’s counseling session.

Jeanette and her staff, along with the representatives from the program offices have a lot of information that can assist you in seeking opportunities here at EPA.

Thank you. Enjoy the rest of the session.