Speeches By EPA Administrator
Associated General Contractors of America Leadership Conference, Washington, D.C.05/01/2003
Remarks for Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Associated General Contractors of America Leadership Conference
May 1, 2003
Thank you Jack (Kelley) for that introduction.
President Bush and I believe that forging strong partnerships is an important tool in our efforts to achieve real and lasting results for the environment. So, I= m pleased to be here this morning with the Associated General Contractors B a group that has not only been a valuable partner but also a leader in our environmental efforts.
As your motto states, you truly are building America = s quality of life. From the construction of office buildings and schools to roads and recreation areas, you are providing jobs and supporting the economic growth of our country.
At the same time, you are also working to improve the environmental performance of your industry B recognizing that a healthy environment is an essential foundation to building and sustaining our quality of life.
By promoting green construction, encouraging the use of Environmental Management Systems, and providing tools, such as the Green Construction Bible, AGC is providing the necessary resources and assistance to the thousands of construction contractors you represent.
With your proven track record of environmental leadership, I am pleased that AGC has agreed to participate in a new industry partnership with EPA known as the Sector Strategies Program. EPA has invited seven industries, one of which is construction, to work with more closely in improving environmental performance and reducing the regulatory burdens you face.
Our Sector Strategies partnership will focus on three key areas. First, we want to work with you to help create the right set of tools and strategies to expand the use of Environmental Management Systems by construction companies across the United States. Already we have seen AGC take the initiative to create an EMS program for its members, and EPA will provide help in the form of expertise and support as you work to implement your program.
Second, this program is also designed to help reduce regulatory and other barriers that impede environmental performance. We want to work with AGC in a cooperative manner that will support your economic health and the health of our environment. A prime example of where we can work together is in the implementation of EPA= s recently proposed rule that would dramatically reduce emissions from the type of non-road diesel engines that are used in construction B a major source of emissions that, up until this point, have been virtually unregulated.
The construction industry has a real opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment by reducing these harmful emissions that enter our air. As a result of the rule we= ve proposed, all Americans will receive important health benefits. By 2030, when fully implemented, we estimate that 9,600 premature deaths, over 8,300 hospitalizations, and one million lost work days will be avoided every year.
I understand that there are concerns within your industry with this rule, and we want to work with you during the public comment period to address those concerns and ensure a final rule that will benefit our environment without straining economic resources.
Finally, through the Sector Strategies program, we want the focus of our success to be on achieving real, measureable results for the environment. We will work with AGC and your members to think strategically about how to achieve results and improve environmental performance without increasing reporting burden.
At the end of the day, I want our partnership in the Sector Strategies Program to help EPA move in the direction of a more performance-based approach to environmental protection B pursuing our shared environmental goals through collaborate work, creative thinking, and common sense outcomes that benefit all citizens.
Construction is an ideal partner in this effort, because yours is an industry that offers many opportunities for enhancing environmental quality, such as improving energy efficiency, protecting water quality, recycling and minimizing waste.
When EPA constructed a new facility in North Carolina at Research Triangle Park, we had the opportunity to witness first hand the results construction companies can achieve when they work to incorporate green building practices.
Our construction partners commitment to reuse and recycle waste on that project led to a new performance benchmark for your industry. An unprecedented 80 percent of material was recovered B keeping 20 million pounds of construction debris out of local landfills. This is just one example of the type of achievement we should be recognizing and replicating throughout your industry, and with the new Sector Strategies program we look forward to similar success stories in the future.
Of course, working as partners is a two way street. As your industry works to improve environmental performance, we understand that complex environmental regulations often prove difficult to navigate. We want to ensure that you are able to meet these regulations in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
To assist you in this effort, I = m pleased to announce today the official launch of a new EPA web-based Construction Industry Compliance Assistance Center. This new tool will provide comprehensive environmental assistance that will help builders, contractors, and developers determine which regulations apply and where to go for compliance help.
I want to thank AGC for your help in developing this resource and for your continued support of our mission at EPA to make America = s air cleaner, water purer, and land better protected.
By working together in partnership, we are helping break down barriers that have existed in the past between industry and environmental efforts. We are proving that business and EPA can work together to achieve a healthy and safe environment. By doing so, we are building a strong quality of life for our children and grandchildren B one construction project in which we can all take pride.