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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Johnson, National Biodiesel Board's Cleaning Up America Conference, San Diego, CA

02/07/2006
    I would like thank you for inviting me to visit with you in beautiful San Diego. I have to admit there are a lot worse places to be in the second week of February than sunny southern California.

    On my flight from Washington yesterday, my staff and I were reading up on your meeting, and I was pleased to see that a conference, whose focus is on renewable resources, has gone renewable itself. You have taken environmentally-friendly, common-sense steps to minimize your own environmental footprint. I applaud your efforts in “going green” by using recycled materials and reusable cups, and by composting your garbage.

    In America, more and more companies, organizations and now conferences are leading the way in being good stewards of our shared environment.

    Today, a growing number of companies are finding that their customers have high expectations for how products or services they purchase affect the environment. EPA is working collaboratively with many businesses to voluntarily reduce their environmental impacts - in cost-effective ways.

    Leading companies are proving, that doing what’s good for the environment, is also good for business.

    Consumers expect a lot from the companies they buy from, AND they expect a lot from their government. Americans count on their government to keep the economy growing, to be leaders in the world, and to protect their environment. In order to fulfill these expectations, we must remain committed to exploring and developing new, innovative technologies.

    Innovation is vital for the continued health and prosperity of the U.S. As leaders in the innovative field of biodiesel, you know the importance of technology and so does the President.

    President Bush and EPA are encouraging the investments in the technology that are powering our nation’s economy and driving our environmental successes.

    As a lifelong scientist I’m a true believer in the potential for technology to improve the well-being of our country. I walked through the doors of EPA for the first time 25 years ago, and while it seems like just yesterday to me, a lot has changed over that time.

    As I look across this crowd and see a lot of gray hairs like my own – and in some cases very little hair – I’m assume you too, can appreciate how times have changed. When I began at EPA, we used typewriters and blackberries were just something you ate. Today, we have powerful computers and hand-held equipment that lets us bring real-time information right to the heart of a crisis.

    25 years ago, I used to jog in my neighborhood listening to cassette tapes on a bulky walkman. Today, even the President owns an I-Pod that weighs just a few ounces and holds 10-thousand songs. My wife told me that if I bought an I-Pod, I should start jogging again – so I told her that perhaps the I-Pod was one innovation I wasn’t quite ready to embrace.

    But technology has not just changed the way Americans work and play, it has shifted the possibilities of what EPA can do in protecting our nation’s health and environment.

    When I started at EPA, I worked in a lab where much of our scientific measurements were based on parts per million. Today we measure in nanograms and look for single molecular exposure. 25 years ago, many of the pollutants EPA set out to control could be seen with the naked eye. Today we have a nationwide system for monitoring pollutants that are 30 times smaller than a single strand of human hair.

    Everyday, EPA’s investment in technology is helping us discover more about our environment, learn about the affects of pollutants and, most importantly, do more to protect the well-being of our nation.

    In his State of the Union Address last week, the President announced a new national investment in energy innovation in order to break America’s dependency on foreign sources of power.

    His Advanced Energy Initiative includes a national goal of replacing more than 75-percent of our oil imports by the year 2025. The President knows that America is too reliant on foreign energy so today, I couldn’t be happier to be here speaking with the very people who are going to help our nation end this dependency.

    Our country is on the verge of dramatic change for how we power our cars, our homes and our businesses and innovation – including innovations in biodiesel – is the catalyst of this change.

    President Bush and EPA are encouraging the advances in the technology that power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes.

    By investing today in clean coal technologies, revolutionary power-sources, and renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels, 25 years from now we can make foreign sources of oil go the way of the typewriter and the walkman.

    The people in this room – and I’m told there are around 2-thousand participants in your conference – are adding to our nation’s energy security and environmental security.

    Since 2001, under President Bush’s leadership, our nation has funded nearly $10 billion in developing energy sources that are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable. Over the past four years, the Bush Administration has worked to increase domestic energy supplies, encourage efficiency and conservation, and develop alternative and renewable sources of energy.

    I am proud of EPA’s role in this effort. Just yesterday, the President released his budget request for fiscal year 2007. His budget included more than 100 million dollars ($100M) to support the development and implementation of EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard rulemaking - the standards which lead to increasing market share of biodiesel, ethanol and other renewable fuels.

    Last August, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. Prior to that, more than a decade had passed since we had a national energy plan and with each passing year we have become more dependent on foreign sources of oil.

    Over the past 25 years, the cumulative cost of imported crude oil has reached 1-point-4 trillion dollars - money that could have provided funds for investments and jobs right here in America.

    I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the Renewable Fuel Standard provision in the President’s Energy Bill. That provision is designed to reduce vehicle emissions and strengthen the nation’s energy security by doubling the use of fuels produced from American crops by 2012.

    This means a lot more homegrown crops like soybeans, sunflower seeds and corn, as well as other material like cellolosic biomass and restaurant grease which would normally be thrown away, will be turned into fuel.

    The RFS provision requires an escalating amount of renewable fuels to be blended into motor vehicle fuels. So instead of spending our money on imported oil, we can invest in domestic jobs, strengthen our national security, and support American agricultural communities.

    In addition to the economic impact, expanding the use of renewable fuels can help us provide cleaner air to the next generation of Americans because renewable fuels produce fewer air pollutants.

    And because of its lower cost, we are again seeing that doing what’s good for the environment, is also good for business.

    Renewable fuels are the next step in our steady march toward cleaner, healthier air. Nationwide, our air is cleaner today than it was last year - or the year before - or anytime in the past three decades.

    Through the National Clean Diesel Campaign, EPA is working with our partners to implement voluntary, cost-effective strategies to achieve emissions reductions. Together, we are making the black puff of diesel smoke a thing of the past.

    The National Clean Diesel Campaign has implemented more than 300 clean diesel projects nationwide. These efforts are leading to the reduction of hundreds-of-thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides, and tens-of-thousands of tons of particulate matter.

    Particulate matter is a public health issue, resulting in premature mortality, increased asthma attacks, and millions of lost work days. EPA has taken action to set stringent, nation-wide standards for new diesel engines. These standards will result in annual health benefits of more than $150 billion.

    At the same time, we’re also achieving immediate benefits by addressing the millions of existing, or “legacy” engines, by deploying the latest cost-effective technology to make these engines run cleaner.

    These are exciting times for America. The President has set big goals for our nation’s energy security, economic well-being and environmental health, and I am confident that we can meet those goals, in part through the innovative spirit of the people in this very room.

    When I speak to the employees at EPA, one of the things I always stress is that our goal is not only to protect the environment for today’s citizens – are goal is to protect our nation’s environment for future generations of Americans – our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    The innovators of renewable fuels have that same long-term mindset. America has always loved its cars and changing the way we power them is going to take some time.

    But we already see that times are changing. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Detroit auto show. I noted with interest several exhibits for “luxury hybrid” cars. Even a year ago, I don’t think too many people would have equated fuel efficiency, with luxury.

    The same is true for renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. 25 years ago, I doubt too many people looked at a soybean and saw its potential for powering their 18-wheeler, but here I am today in front of two-thousand people who are making a living out of turning renewable, domestic crops into renewable, environmentally-friendly domestic fuel.

    The innovative spirit of the biodiesel industry is advancing the technology to power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes. EPA appreciates your contributions to the health and prosperity to our nation – and I know the President thanks you as well.

    Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I wish you luck on the remainder of your conference, and for a successful and renewable 2006.

    Thank you.