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Videotape Script for the Pork Producers Council Annual Forum Washington DC teleconferenced to Reno, Nevada

03/06/1998
Carol M. Browner Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Videotape Script for the Pork Producers Council Annual Forum Washington DC teleconferenced to Reno, Nevada
     

                   March 6, 1998
                               
                               
     Thank you President King. And thanks to all who helped set up this videolink, so that I can take part in your Annual Forum. I am delighted to have the opportunity today to talk to you about the Clinton Administration's plan to clean up and restore the nation's waters -- and what these plans will mean for you in the pork industry.

     Let me applaud the leadership of the Pork Producers Council in promoting environmental stewardship in your industry. You have been out front, bringing people together to find creative, cost-effective ways to protect the quality of our waters.

     We are heartened that you have stepped forward and so willingly taken on these difficult issues and worked so hard to find solutions. As EPA continues its progress in safeguarding the nation's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters, we hope to draw upon the partnerships and dialogue you've established this past year. I thank you again for your commitment and outstanding work.

     In the 25 years since we passed the Clean Water Act, this nation has made great strides in protecting our waters.

     Rivers are no longer catching fire, certainly.

     We have prevented billions of pounds of toxic pollution from entering our waterways.

     Today, once-dead rivers, estuaries, lakes, and coastal waters are teeming with fish -- and nearly two-thirds of our waters are now safe for swimming and fishing.

     But we know, as you do, that our work is not done.

    It is unacceptable that a third of the nation's waters are still polluted. This Administration believes that every child deserves to grow up with water that is pure to drink, lakes safe for swimming, rivers that are teaming with fish. Clean water means safer, healthier communities, and we know we must work harder to ensure that every American, every community, has access to the cleanest water we can provide.

     That's why the President announced a few weeks ago his Clean Water Action Plan, our national blueprint for cleaning up the country's waters.

     The plan will address today's greatest threats -- $2.3 billion in new funds over five years to address polluted runoff from agriculture and urban areas, the loss of wetlands, and the restoration of natural resources.

     It will give Americans the flexible tools and resources they need to clean up their waters community by community, watershed by watershed, region by region.

     The plan builds on this administration's philosophy of bringing people together to find solutions -- industry, utilities, citizens, environmentalists, all levels of government -- so that together we can take action, and together we can finish cleaning up and restoring our nation's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

     Yesterday we took our first action under the Clean Water Action Plan. We announced a draft strategy to protect public health and the environment from manure produced at animal feeding operations -- a strategy that will build upon the strides you, the pork industry, have already made.

     Animal waste can contain disease-causing micro-organisms, as well as phosphorus and nitrogen -- nutrients that can be dangerous at high levels. Six out of 10 polluted water bodies are impaired, at least in part, because of animal waste runoff from feedlots. And as feeding operations grow in size, so does the problem.

     We have some 450,000 feedlots in this country. Many hold 1,000 or more animals, and by today's standards, in some livestock operations, even that's a small number. One pork operation has plans to expand to two and a half million swine.

     Every year, we are finding more and more of our waters impaired by animal waste. We've had fish kills, polluted drinking water and groundwater, and rivers and streams with signs that say,
"Contaminated water: stay out."

    Scientists by and large have linked excess phosphorus and nitrogen to the recent outbreak of pfiesteria, a toxic micro-organism that last summer infested several rivers in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Too much of these nutrients have lowered oxygen levels in waters throughout the country, including a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of the State of Connecticut.

     Clearly, together, we need to do more.

     Our new strategy for animal feeding operations is designed to be more protective of our environment and public health, more fair to the livestock industry across the board, and more inclusive of all the people concerned about our waterways.

     We will set new waste management standards for livestock operations across the country -- swine, poultry, dairy, and cattle. No one livestock industry will be singled out -- all will be required to do a better job of managing animal waste.  

     We will work with you and our partners in the states to address the greatest problems first -- those operations that right now are violating regulations, and those that pose the most serious threat to our communities' watersheds.

     We will coordinate with our federal partners at the Department of Agriculture to unify our strategies and provide you with much-needed financial and technical help.

     And we will continue to build partnerships so that we can work together -- citizens, industry, government at all levels, environmentalists -- to find the most effective, most innovative ways we can protect our nation's waters.

     Again, I thank the Pork Producers Council for all they have done to get the ball rolling on clean water. You've laid a very promising foundation for our future work together. In partnership, we can meet our shared goal of cleaner, safer, healthier communities for our children, our children's children, and the generations to come.

     Thank you.