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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Baxter Healthcare 2005 Global EHS Conference, Chicago, IL

06/27/2005
    Thank you, Susan, for that introduction.

    It is truly an honor for me to speak before you at Baxter Health Care’s 2005 Global Environmental, Health and Safety Conference. It is quite a name – but very appropriate for all you do.

    I spoke with Joe Wolfsberger, and Ron Meissen earlier and asked them if they purposefully scheduled this conference to coincide with the Taste of Chicago Festival. I have been in town over the weekend, and believe me, I have broken my diet more than a few times. So this week, while you all are in your fifth session of the day, if you look around and can not find those two, I am sure they just snuck off to sample some of the best food Chicago has to offer.

    I appreciate being invited to be with you today. As most of you know, I was recently selected by President Bush to serve as the Administrator for EPA. It is an honor and a privilege to serve him and the people of this country.

    I look forward to working with Baxter Healthcare as we work in partnership to protect our environment. Just as Joe said at a recent meeting in Toronto, “We’re on the same journey!”

    EPA and Baxter are similar in the work we do to protect the health of the American people. You - by applying your expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. And us - by controlling the pollutants released into our air, water and land.

    Over the past few years, I am pleased that we have developed a good working relationship. EPA needs the cooperation of all segments of society – individuals, companies and communities – to effectively protect our environmental and human health. I am pleased that Baxter is on our team.

    I have come to speak with you about how our work – together – advances a concept I believe is critical for the future of our country: environmental stewardship.

    I want to start by congratulating you on your recent designation as an EPA Performance Track Corporate Leader.

    Performance Track is designed to recognize and reward facilities that have made a commitment to continuous environmental improvement, consistently exceed regulatory requirements, work closely with their communities, and excel in protecting the environment and public health.

    In 2003 alone, Performance Track members collectively reduced their energy use by 5.3 trillion BTUs, their water use by over 566 million gallons, and their solid waste by nearly 300,000 tons.

    Just being a member of this distinguished group is quite an accomplishment. But Baxter has been singled out from among those leaders as a Performance Track Corporate Leader – one of only three companies that has been recognized for their commitment to environmental stewardship.

    Baxter Healthcare has also been a leader in implementing the Green Suppliers Network. Last Fall, I had the opportunity to join Baxter and seven other healthcare firms to kick off the program – a collaborative venture between industry, EPA and the Department of Commerce. The Green Suppliers Network works with large manufacturers like Baxter to engage their small and medium-sized suppliers in low-cost technical reviews focused on process improvement and pollution prevention.

    Teaching suppliers “Lean and Clean” manufacturing techniques can help them to increase energy efficiency, identify cost-saving opportunities and optimize resources to eliminate waste. The result – companies with more effective processes and products, higher profits and fewer environmental impacts.

    In addition, I understand Baxter was recognized this year as a champion of the Hospitals for a Healthy Environment – a program to educate health care professionals about pollution prevention opportunities in hospitals and health care systems.

    It has been quite a year for Baxter – you should be very proud. At EPA we see an opportunity to point to your company as a model of environmental stewardship.

    In fact, I feel so strongly about promoting a culture of environmental stewardship that I have made it a top priority as Administrator for EPA.

    Collaborative efforts, innovative programs, education and outreach are the proven tools of today and tomorrow. These methods have a synergistic effect on environmental progress. By involving more participants in the process, we promote a culture of environmental stewardship, both in this country and others throughout the world.

    EPA is at a crossroads. Over the Agency’s 35 years, public perception of environmental stewardship has evolved from “let the government take care of it”, into each individual’s responsibility. EPA must now set this environmental agenda and highlight the mechanisms to increase the public’s role in stewardship.

    To EPA, environmental stewardship means everyone taking responsibility for environmental quality in every aspect of our lives – in our jobs, at home, and in our communities.

    It means not just minimizing environmental impacts, but preventing them. It means not just protecting the environment, but improving it.

    It represents a natural evolution in our thinking about the environment – from pollution control, to pollution prevention, to sustainability.

    Over much of our history, we have focused on treating and permitting pollution at the point of discharge – the pipes and smokestacks – and their specific impacts on our air, land and water.

    Let me tell you the four ways EPA is expanding the focus in protecting the environment.

    First, a holistic approach is essential to addressing some of our most troublesome challenges that can not be addressed with conventional regulatory solutions.

    Polluted runoff, for example, is the single biggest cause of water pollution. Much of that runoff comes from farms and residential yards. We must teach stewardship so that everyone knows they have a vital part to play in decreasing pollution and protecting our environment.

    There are also new challenges emerging. For example, we are still in the early stages of understanding the implications of nanotechnologies and bioengineered crops.

    Second, stewardship is important for our children’s future. We have a responsibility to sustain – if not enhance – our nation’s environment for future generations.

    In the last four years alone, under the Bush Administration,
    • Airborne pollutants have declined by 10 percent;
    • 12,000 abandoned industrial sites have been restored to productive use through the Brownfields program;
    • From 2002 to 2003, toxic chemicals released into the environment have declined by 6 percent; and,
    • In 2004 alone, 800,000 acres of wetlands were enhanced.

    While our nation’s environmental progress is evident, we have learned that when acting alone, mandating federal rules and regulations, environmental progress is limited. It is when we work in cooperation with our partners and advance the notion of stewardship that progress accelerates at a remarkable pace.

    Third, stewardship is an expectation that is tied to being a good corporate citizen. People living in communities want to know that the operations around them are safe.

    Beyond that, you will find many people who want to work with local facilities on local priorities. They may want to enhance the habitat around the facility, better understand the health of the local watershed, or support environmental education in the local schools.

    Corporate stewardship can enhance the quality of life for people in the community and advance the reputation of the companies.

    That leads to the fourth reason -- global competitiveness. Today, a growing number of companies are finding that their customers around the world have high expectations with regard to how their products or services affect the environment. In some cases, those expectations translate into requirements for how to do business.

    Those companies that are thinking and acting progressively on environmental issues have a competitive edge. Often, an improvement to environmental performance also improves a business' economic performance. In this regard, an environmental decision becomes a business decision.

    This is good news for Baxter. You are obviously well positioned to take advantage of this type of consumer-driven trend.

    I am here to tell you that Baxter has leadership power. You have tremendous influence in your communities, in your sector, with your suppliers and customers, and in the business world in general.

    You have shown that improved environmental and economic performance can go hand-in-hand. This point was echoed recently by Ron Meissen when he stated in Washington, D.C. that Baxter has become more efficient and adopted new technologies to reduce energy use per-unit-of-production and also has saved over $9 million through these improvements.

    I understand, Baxter sets a goal for its facilities to reduce their cost of making the product by 3% each year. This helps you drive your Lean initiatives.

    EPA would like to collaborate with you to maximize the value you add – beyond offering world-class health products.

    We will work with you through Performance Track to help more companies set and achieve environmental goals.

    We are committed to promoting your successes publicly and to setting up peer-to-peer exchanges that enable you to share proven practices with other Performance Track members.

    We also will work with you through the Green Suppliers Network.

    And, we would like to learn more about your experiences in Europe with multi-media permitting to help us pilot this approach in the U.S.

    We all understand how much more can be achieved when we work together toward environmental stewardship.

    The award I am about to present to Baxter is for the combined efforts of each and every one of you. Now, if I could have Joe and Ron (and anyone else on stage) stand up and join me.

    At the Performance Track Awards Dinner in April, we presented this framed certificate to Baxter leadership to recognize them for being designated as a Performance Track Corporate Leader. I would like to present it again today and thank all of you for making Baxter a corporate leader in environmental performance.

    I would also like to present this Performance Track Corporate Leader flag as another symbol of our recognition of your environmental achievements and support for the Performance Track program.

    You are the people that take responsibility, day in and day out, for reducing Baxter’s environmental footprint and that are setting such a wonderful example of environmental stewardship.

    I know from talking with your senior managers that one of the things they are most proud of is Baxter’s strong family-oriented culture. I appreciate that commitment, and I look forward to maintaining a partnership with Baxter in order to provide our families, and our future generations, with a healthier, safer environment in which to live, work and play.

    Thank you.