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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Democratic National Committee Workshop

09/10/1998
Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Democratic National Committee Workshop

                        Washington, DC
                       September 10, 1998


     Thank you Finance Chairman Barrack.  I am delighted to be here with you, and my fellow panelists -- Representative Wynn and Senator Murray.  Senator Murray, thank you for all that you have done -- for protecting children's health by protecting our environment.

     And Representative Wynn, as one of your constituents, I am particularly pleased to share the podium with you today. And I want to thank you for all you have done for the district in which I live -- for helping to make it safer, healthier, and a more liveable place to raise a family.

     It is a special pleasure to be with all of you today at this workshop.

     Five and a half years ago, when President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and I came to Washington, we called on businesses, communities, and all levels of government to join together to forge a new generation of environmental protection.

     And since that time, we have made great progress.

     Tens of millions of Americans now breathe cleaner air.  We achieved the single largest reduction in toxic air pollution in this nation's history.  And recently, the President announced strong, new public health air standards for smog and soot -- the toughest action taken in a generation to protect our children's health.

     We took aggressive action to keep contamination out of our water, with our new Safe Drinking Water Act.

     We cleaned up more toxic dumpsites in the last five and a half years than in the first 12 years of the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program.

     And, the new food safety law creates a single, more protective, comprehensive, health-based, children-first standard for all pesticides, all health risks, all foods.       In fact, we are taking steps to ensure that an awareness of children's unique sensitivity to environmental hazards -- from toxic chemicals to dirty air -- will guide every action we take to protect public health and our environment.  

     Yes, we have made great strides for our health and the environment. But what's even more remarkable, is that we've made all this progress while changing our process and system of environmental regulation to provide better protection than ever before, in the most cost-effective manner.

     Today, we have some of the toughest protections in history, and our economy is booming.  We have proven that a healthy economy does not have to come at the cost of a healthy environment. The two, in fact, go hand in hand. They are inextricably linked.

     And much of the credit goes to the business community itself. We know that most businesses want to do the right thing and play a greater role in environmental protection. So when we began this reinvention effort, we listened -- and heard -- what the business community had to say.

     In fact, a good deal of our ideas came from what many businesses had been saying for
years: More flexibility and less command and control. Less red tape and more relief from unnecessary requirements. More plain English so businesses can understand what's required and more incentives to reward those that go beyond compliance. In short, common-sense, cost-effective protections for our environment and public health.

     And by any measure, we've accomplished a great deal in bringing common-sense to our system of regulation.

     We have slashed paperwork and red tape, more than ever before. EPA has taken 1,300 pages of obsolete or unnecessary environmental requirements off the books -- and cut 22 million hours of regulatory burden. This is the equivalent of  returning a half million work weeks back to the private sector.  And we estimate the value of this at more than $600 million. That's $600 million back to the businesses and communities for more productive use.

     Today, because of our major administrative reforms in the Superfund program, toxic waste cleanups are now 20 percent faster and 20 percent less costly. Now thousands of children can play in a neighborhood free of toxics -- something every child should be able to do.

     Under our Brownfields initiative, EPA is working with government, lenders, developers, community leaders across the country, to help them clean up and redevelop old, abandoned industrial sites in their midst -- the blight that holds back so many of our nation's inner city neighborhoods.

    The program has been enormously successful. To date, we have 157 brownfields redevelopment projects coast to coast. Altogether, we have leveraged nearly $1 billion in private funds for redevelopment -- and created more than 2,000 jobs.

     Through our Common Sense Initiative, stakeholders have come together to find voluntary ways to reduce pollution, while at the same time improving efficiency in six major industries.  EPA recently reached an historic agreement with the metal finishing industry to exchange regulatory relief for voluntary pollution reductions. This agreement could cut pollution from the industry by up to 75 percent of 1992 levels.

     And we're trying new ideas. Through Project XL -- standing for excellence and leadership -- we're working with companies, cities, states, environmentalists, and community activists to design ways not just to meet environmental requirements, but to go further, to exceed the bare minimum.

     One agreement with Intel Corporation's huge computer chip facility in Arizona will reduce air pollution by more than half and recycle 95 percent of the facility's waste water and hazardous waste in exchange for a more flexible, cost-effective permitting and reporting scheme.

     Our work to bring common sense to environmental and public health regulations
continues:

     nine new compliance assistance centers to provide small business with quick and easy
     information on how to prevent and control pollution.

     incentives for companies that voluntarily seek out and fix violations of environmental laws.
     

     a new program where businesses mentor other businesses to help them achieve better
     environmental results, and increase profits at the same time.

     new policies that promote market-based trading to reduce pollution emissions in a more
     cost-effective, environmentally protective way.

     unprecedented steps to give the American people the right to know about toxic chemicals
     released to their land, air, and water; smog levels in their communities; lead paint in their
     homes -- and more.

     and strong partnerships -- with the auto industry for cleaner cars, with the computer and
     electronics industry to deal with discarded PCs and other electronics, and partnerships
     with more than 7,000 other businesses -- to conserve energy and reduce pollution
     emissions and solid waste.

     I could continue for a long time about all that this administration has done to build this new generation of tough, but less costly environmental and public health protection. But let me just say that this new way of doing business is, and will continue to be, a top priority.

     These changes come at a pivotal point in history. Great environmental and public health challenges lie ahead in the next century. These are challenges that will require our very best and all that has made this country great -- our creativity, ingenuity, and innovation.

     I'm talking about fighting global warming, which will require this nation to work together at an unprecedented level. In fact, partnerships -- between business, government, citizens, and other nations -- are the only real hope we have.

     I'm talking about finishing the job of cleaning up and restoring our nation's waters -- preventing polluted runoff, and restoring our wetlands and watersheds.

     And I'm talking about providing clean, safe healthy air for every American, for every child.

     Our nation is built on a proud tradition of change.  The Clinton Administration is committed to working with all interested parties -- businesses, states, communities -- to continue that proud tradition of change.  Together, we can take the common-sense, cost-effective steps we need to protect our health, our communities, our economy, and pass on a safe, healthy world to our children.  

     Thank you.