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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Civil Engineering Research Foundation Board and Corporate Advisory Board Meeting

11/15/1995
                         Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Civil Engineering Research Foundation Board and Corporate
Advisory Board Meeting


                         Washington, D.C.
                               
                     Prepared for Delivery
                       November 15, 1995


I want to thank John Robinson for the introduction. It is a pleasure to be able to join leaders in the field of design and
construction, who make such a vital contribution to environmental protection, the health of our communities, and the health of
our economy.


I am glad to be able to join you today, despite the very serious situation we are in with the government shutdown. At EPA, as
of yesterday, we have had to stop inspections of drinking water systems, hazardous waste facilities, toxic waste incinerators,
chemical plants, petroleum plants. The environmental cop is not on the beat. And that is not good for the American people,
American business, or our environment.


As President Clinton has said, the Congressional leadership is offering a false choice to the American people: either make
drastic cuts in Medicare, education, public health and environmental protection -- or shut down the government and default
for the first time in history.


The President believes that we must work together to balance the budget, consistent with our values and free from threats.

The President has called on Congress to pass a fair and clean continuing resolution to keep the government running and to
pass a debt extension that is free of extreme conditions.


The President is not willing to impose an $11 a month premium increase on every single Medicare beneficiary as a condition
for keeping the government running.


The President is not willing to accept an irresponsible debt limit bill that is really just a back-door effort by the Congressional
leadership to impose their misguided budget priorities.


The President does not believe we need to roll back public health protection to balance the budget. He has proposed a
balanced budget that invests in education and training, protects Medicare, targets tax cuts for working families, and provides
a sensible level of resources for environmental protection -- so that we can continue the progress of the past 25 years.


Over the past 25 years, Americans of both parties have united in the firm belief that to safeguard public health, we must
protect our air, our water, and our land. And together, we have made tremendous progress -- progress of which we should
be proud.


But we cannot declare that our responsibility has ended, our job is done, our commitment can waver. Our commitment
cannot waver. The job is not done. The challenge is still ours -- and will always be -- to manage responsibly the natural
resources upon which life itself depends.


Over the past two and a half years ago, the Clinton Administration has worked with industry, with environmental leaders,
with many of you -- to uphold the public health and environmental protections that Americans have long depended on -- and
at the same time to add common sense and cost-effectiveness to the system. To achieve more protection at less cost.


Since coming to EPA, I have strengthened our laboratory research and instituted more effective peer review. By carefully
redirecting existing funds, we have doubled funding for research grants to be awarded to scientists outside of the Agency.


Through our SITE program and through the President's Environmental Technology Initiative, we are doing what we can to
identify technology needs, support the development of new technology, and get that technology to those who can use it.


We launched the Common Sense Initiative to control pollution in six major industries. We bring together industry leaders and
environmental leaders to take off their adversarial hats and figure out how this industry can get the very best environmental
results. What makes sense for an oil refinery? What makes sense for a printing plant or an electronics firm?


Too often in the past, we told industry not only what standard to meet, but also exactly what technology they had to use to
meet it. Why not encourage innovation? Why not move away from one-size-fits-all regulation and help industry not just meet
the standards but exceed the standards?


We have reformed the Superfund program to make it work faster, fairer, and more efficiently.

And through our regulatory reinvention, we are cutting paperwork by 25, eliminating 1400 pages of regulations, and
streamlining 7012f our rules. Through Project XL, businesses and communities are finding creative new ways to meet and
exceed environmental goals.


All of these Clinton Administration strategies take us to the future.

But today that progress is in jeopardy. Today in Congress we see a concerted, orchestrated effort to repeal public health and
environmental protections that are the result of 25 years of bipartisan effort.


I am happy to report that, as many of you know, two weeks ago, a bipartisan majority of the House rejected the Republican
leadership's attempt to insert 17 special interest "riders" into the environmental spending bill.


But even without the 17 special measures, the budget proposed by the Congressional leadership poses serious problems for
public health and serious problems for our environment.


The House leadership has proposed a 34 ut in EPA's budget; the Senate leadership has proposed a 23
ut.


Under their budget, across the country, improvements in sewage treatment and drinking water infrastructure would be
delayed or abandoned.


Their budget cuts the State Revolving Loan Fund for Clean Water by $600 million -- cutting back funding to communities to
invest in infrastructure to protect rivers and beaches from raw sewage.


The House budget completely eliminates the State Revolving Fund for drinking water -- money that would go to communities
to upgrade their drinking water infrastructure to protect against contamination.


Their budget cuts Superfund by 36In communities across the country, cleanups would slow or stop.

Their budget cuts funding for environmental research, forcing us to lay off hundreds of scientists. Their budget cuts the
Environmental Technology Initiative.


Make no mistake about it: These cuts will not allow us to sustain the level of public health and environmental protection to
which the American people are accustomed.


President Clinton has spoken loud and clear against these efforts to strip away decades of public health and environmental
protection. He has vowed that if these anti-environment measures reach his desk, he will not hesitate to use his veto pen. And
that's the kind of leadership that will keep American communities healthy and strong.


Twenty-five years ago, when President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, he said, "1970 will be known as the year of the
beginning, in which we really began to move on the problems of clean air and clean water and open spaces for the future
generations of Americans."


The Clinton Administration is committed to ensuring that 1995 is not the end of that effort.

Let us continue to work together -- to protect our health, our natural resources, and our economy -- so that all of us, our
children and our grandchildren can enjoy a healthy and a prosperous life.


Thank you..