Speeches By EPA Administrator
Administrator Johnson, New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Los Angeles, C.A.02/09/2007
|Thank you, Wayne (Nastri), for that introduction. |
It’s a pleasure to be here to speak at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference.
I would like to thank the great city of Los Angeles for being our host … and the Local Government Commission for organizing today’s event.
I would also like to thank all the cosponsors of this conference. It is a long list – and always growing – and it illustrates the broad commitment and collaborative nature that is necessary to responsibly build toward a healthier, brighter future.
Over my 26 years as a public servant, I’ve witnessed what can be achieved when partners come together to address our nation’s environmental challenges. And today, we see those amazing results all around us. Our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected than just a generation ago.
As we move forward and advance environmental ethics like smart growth, together we are not only building on our nation’s environmental accomplishments, we are creating a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.
Part of this legacy is our work to shift America into a “green” culture.
Today, instead of having only 17,000 EPA employees working to protect the environment, we now have over 300 million Americans as environmental partners. Americans from all sectors of society – communities, businesses and individuals – have begun to embrace the fact that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility … not just the responsibility of EPA.
At my Agency, we continue to do our part. By focusing on cooperation over conflict … education over regulation … and by equipping this growing army of environmental stewards with the tools they need to meet today’s environmental challenges, EPA is helping America shift into this green culture.
For most of our Agency’s history – now well into our fourth decade – we have focused on regulatory approaches to improve the environment. This has created solid, yet increasingly incremental gains in environmental protection.
However, we all know that the environmental challenges of the 21stt Century – such as polluted runoff from streets and farms, and loss of habitat and biodiversity – cannot be addressed by federal regulations alone. That is why EPA is committed to working in collaboration with our state and local partners to hand down to the next generation a healthier, safer, more prosperous world.
I believe the escalating interest in smart growth is part of this shift into this greener culture. And I look forward to working with you to help America’s communities responsibly build toward a healthier, brighter future.
This is especially important when you consider how fast the U.S. is growing. The 2000 census showed that the population increase between 1990 and 2000 was the largest in U.S. history. And we’re not slowing down. The Census Bureau projects that by 2050 our population will reach 420 million.
Clearly, we need smart strategies for managing that kind of growth. We know that how we develop our cities, towns, and transportation systems today will have an impact on the environment tomorrow.
When I think about the environmental challenges our nation faces, I am struck by how many of them are related to growth and development. The quality of our air, water, and land all are linked to how and where we grow.
Take air quality. Development patterns shape how people get around, which affects the quality of our air.
Or take energy use. We now understand how much our development patterns affect our energy use. As President Bush noted in his State of the Union address last month, we are too dependent on foreign oil. In order to jump off this treadmill of dependency, the President set a goal of reducing gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years. Renewable energy and innovative technologies are important factors in meeting that ambitious goal. And so are smart growth strategies. By providing people smart transportation choices, they are able to drive less, save money, and help reduce our nation's consumption of oil.
At EPA, we are accelerating America’s shift to a green culture by reviewing our own rules and policies. We want to be sure we are increasing access to smarter development, and we also want to recognize the environmental benefits of smart growth approaches.
Across the country, EPA is working with communities to responsibly build toward a healthier, brighter future.