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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Environmental Science Center, As Prepared

04/14/2009
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you to the staffers, researchers, technicians and others who, over the last decade, have made this place an amazing success.

You are instrumental in the protection of human health and the environment all across the country. I’m proud to be here to congratulate all of you.

This is an important and timely milestone. Not only because 2009 is the Year of Science, but because of the renewed mission of the EPA.

In my three months as Administrator, I have worked to send a clear message to everyone I have met. It’s the same message I’ve given to reporters, to legislators, to advocates, and any other stakeholders. It’s a message I hope you will help me carry.

That message is that EPA is back on the job.

It is especially important here – one of the scientific hubs of this agency.

Many of you know I am a scientist myself. I trained as a chemical engineer and started with the EPA as a staff scientist in the late 80s.

I have seen, up close, the value of the work you do. I know that staff members rely on it, and I recognize the effect it has on individuals, families, and communities.

I also know that, in recent years, there have been questions about whether science was getting the right level of consideration in EPA decisions.

A lot of people and communities had reason to wonder if EPA was really working for them.

In the last few months, we’ve been re-examining previous decisions made at the agency – largely because of questions raised about whether science was trumped by politics.

Whenever that happens, it may be a momentary victory for one side or the other, but it dilutes our effectiveness as an agency. It dilutes the American people’s ability to look at EPA and see us as a guardian of the things that they value.

And it requires that we use our time and resources to look back when we absolutely need to be moving ahead.

Right now, we are in a position of rebuilding trust. The best way to restore the standing of the EPA in the minds of the American people is by ensuring that we utilize the best science.

So let me share another message with you: Science is back at the EPA.

Science is one of the key factors that the President asked us to focus on when shaping our environmental agenda.

Our decisions have to be guided by the most thorough research, the most accurate data, and the strongest evidence.

Going back to science means taking action on clean air and water that are based on human health. It will lead us to places where we can identify and articulate very clearly what it is we face and what we must do.

And I am looking to you to lead the way.

The ESC has been at the forefront in responding to unprecedented challenges like the Anthrax attack on Capitol Hill, Hurricane Katrina, and the Pentagon after September 11th.

You have done high-profile, life-saving work. And when you’ve been called upon, you have delivered.

In the next ten years, the importance of this center is only going to increase. Information and tools we provide to communities, actions we take, and funding decisions will be based on the science that happens here.

The work you do – that the work you have been doing for years – has nothing less than my full support. And the full support of the President.

The EPA is once again guided by an ambitious vision of public health protection and environmental preservation. You are essential to that vision.

I can’t think of a higher calling then coming back to the EPA to work with all of you to address the urgent, ongoing and long overdue issues we face.

We have the support. We have the moment we need. Let’s make the most of it.

Thank you very much.