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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Johnson, Atlantic County Utilities Authority – Water Infrastructure Tour, Atlantic City, N.J.

07/30/2007
Thank you, Alan (Steinberg), for that introduction.

I also want to thank Richard Dovey and Tom Lauletta for leading us on a tour of this remarkable facility.

As Alan mentioned, this is my first stop on a two-week tour of drinking water and wastewater facilities across the country, and I don’t think I could have begun at a better place. The Atlantic County Utilities Authority has been a leader in their industry by promoting innovative, environmentally sensitive energy, wastewater and solid waste solutions.

On the way here, I had a chance to read your mission statement, which affirms your commitment to environmental quality and responsibility for enhancing the quality of life of residents and workers of Atlantic County.

Well, I’ve been in the environmental protection business for a long time, so I know that it’s one thing to write a lofty mission statement – it’s quite another to live up to it. But as we’ve seen here today, ACUA is not just talking the talk – you are walking the walk.

Not only is the Authority providing top-notch and efficient waste management services, it is powered by some of the greenest energy innovations on the planet.

With its wind farm, solar energy facility, landfill gas conversion program and bio-diesel fleets, ACUA is a leader in environmental stewardship.

By incorporating alternative energy sources into their operations, the Authority saves more than 1.3 million dollars per year, while offsetting almost 50,000 barrels of oil annually. I have to tell you, as the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I spend a lot of time and effort convincing governmental and business leaders that doing what’s good for our environment can also be good for their wallets. From now on, I should just send everyone to this facility to have Richard and Tom show them how environmental and economic benefits can advance hand-in-hand.

I see the successes here at ACUA as part of America’s shift to a “green culture” – where all of our citizens understand that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility.

From newspaper headlines to the covers of Fortune 500 reports, we are reading about more and more companies, communities and individuals working to outdo each other in going “green.”

And, being “green” isn’t just about saving money and doing what’s good for the environment. Apparently, here in Atlantic City, it’s also becoming a tourist attraction.

I understand that when ACUA’s windmills were put up, some casino owners were concerned their visitors wouldn’t want to stay in rooms overlooking the turbines. Now, I’m told, quite the opposite has occurred, with the Borgata reporting that rooms with a windmill view are among its most popular. Well, it took some time for the casinos to see the light, but we take environmental converts any way we can get them!

The environmental actions from the Atlantic County Utilities Authority are the same commitments EPA is encouraging from all our municipality and utility partners – to continue to improve our water infrastructure for the benefit of future generations.

Although most of it is buried underground, our water and wastewater infrastructure cannot remain, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Through technology, innovation and partnerships – like the one we have with ACUA – EPA is helping move our infrastructure toward greater sustainability for many years to come.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for joining us today, and for the hospitality of everyone here at Atlantic County Utilities Authority. By going “green,” ACUA is helping EPA spread the word that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility.

As I mentioned before, America is shifting to a “green” culture, in part, because of the work of dedicated citizens, who have taken upon themselves to promote environmental responsibility within their communities.

America has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service. Now more than ever, volunteers are renewing their commitment to helping others and bringing us closer together as neighbors, as communities, and as a nation.

In order to recognize those across the country who have answered the call to service, President Bush established the Volunteer Service Award. This award honors people who have made serving others a central part of their life

Today, I’d like to recognize someone who has contributed countless hours of his personal time to better protect our nation’s environment.

A life-long resident of Southern New Jersey, Bill Christman has spent years working to protect the environment and watershed of the area.

As part of the Great Egg Watershed Association, Bill helped devise a comprehensive environmental management plan for the river, and worked to get the Great Egg River designated as a wild and scenic river by the National Park Service.

He has also promoted environmental sustainability a quickly developing area of New Jersey, and improved storm water management and flood controls in the region.

So Bill, it’s a privilege to recognize you for your hard work and dedication. On behalf of President Bush, I extend his appreciation and the nation’s gratitude for your selfless service.

Congratulations, and please join me to receive your award.

Now I believe we have time for a few questions.