Contact Us

Newsroom

Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

State of the Union and the President's Environmental Initiatives

01/22/1999
Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
State of the Union and the President's Environmental Initiatives

                         Baltimore, MD
                       January 22, 1999
                               


     Thank you Governor Glendening. I am delighted join all of you here in Baltimore --
Governor, Bill Struever, Dru Schmidt-Perkins, and everyone who is joining us here today.


     Governor, I want to applaud you for all that you have done for Maryland, and for the
nation. You are a true environmental leader with a clear, bold vision of the common-sense ways
we can protect our air, water, land, and our communities. All that you have accomplished with
Smart Growth and farm and forest conservation, with brownfields redevelopment and clean air, is
truly a model for the rest of the nation. Thank you.


     I am especially delighted to be here at the Can Company. The transformation of this old
factory -- this phoenix risen from the ashes -- is truly an inspiring symbol of what we can do when
we work together. Businesses, government at all levels, environmentalists, neighborhoods pulling
together to make a real difference -- this is precisely what President Clinton envisions for building
strong, healthy communities for the 21st Century.


     Tuesday night, the President delivered great news -- the state of our union is strong.
America is working again. The promise of our future is limitless.


     Today, our economy is not only strong, it is soaring. Nationwide, we have nearly 18
million new jobs, with nearly 230,000 new jobs created right here in Maryland since 1993.


     Wages are up across the nation. Homeownership is up. The health of our environment is
up. Unemployment and crime are down.


     Here in Maryland, unemployment is at a real low, falling from nearly 6.5 percent in 1993
to just 4.3 percent today. Violent crime is down 12 percent. Right here in Baltimore, serious
crime declined 14 percent -- all since 1992.     These are remarkable times. Who would have thought six years ago that we would be
uttering budget surplus and government in the same breath? But this nation, working together
against many obstacles, pulled America out of deep debt. In 1992, we had a record high $290
billion deficit. This year, we expect a $76 billion budget surplus. That's progress. If only our own
checkbooks balanced like that!


     The century is ending with a tailwind of explosive economic growth. What a tremendous
opportunity to move forward toward a new era of even greater promise and prosperity!


     But as the President so eloquently said in his State of the Union address, "we cannot
realize new promise if we allow the hum of our prosperity to lull us into complacency. How we
fare tomorrow in the 21st Century depends on how we act today."


     Well, the plan President Clinton has laid out for America's future is founded on that
axiom. It is forward-looking and far-reaching -- more typical of a President in his first year than in
his seventh.


     First, the President stated, in no uncertain terms, that we must save social security for the
21st Century. We must also do more for younger America -- more to provide safe, clean schools
in good repair, more quality curricula and teachers.


     We must strengthen national security as well as our domestic police forces and crime
fighting programs.


     And we must continue to protect our environment and public health for today and
tomorrow.


     Already, the Clinton administration has made great strides for our air, water, and land --
for our health. And our economy has only gotten stronger.


     President Clinton approved the toughest public health air quality standards in a generation.

     We've cleaned up nearly three times more toxic waste sites in the last six years than the
previous administration did in 12.


     We've leveraged more than $1 billion to redevelop our nation's brownfields -- our cities'
abandoned industrial properties -- like The Can Company -- that hold back so many of our urban
cores.


    We've kept our drinking water safe with new strong protections to ensure that Americans
have healthy, clean tap water; expanded the public's right to know about toxics in their
communities. And we've built partnerships with businesses, environmentalists, communities,
government at all levels to fight global warming, polluted runoff, and a host of other
environmental threats.


     We've made tremendous strides. But as America enters the new millennium, we face even
more environmental and public health challenges. Our job is not done.


     The President said in his address that one of our most compelling challenges is building
strong, healthy, safe communities for the 21st century -- and building them in ways that make
sense, protect our quality of life, and provide for the nation's continued economic progress.


     That's what Better America Bonds are all about -- a new EPA initiative the President
announced to meet this challenge.


     These bonds are welcome news to the millions of voters in last November's election, who
adopted more than 150 state and local "green" initiatives. These Americans were calling for more
open space, forests, and prairies. More protections for streams, rivers, lakes -- the sources of our
drinking water. More development that renews and revitalizes our nation's great cities.


     In short, they were calling for a better quality of life.

     Governor Glendening, you heeded this call long ago with your Smart Growth Initiative
and all you have done to protect Maryland's rural legacy while breathing new life into the urban
cores.


     Well, Better America Bonds provides a new tool for communities in Maryland and across
the country to set their own priorities, make their own decisions, improve their own quality of life
and the way they are growing. It is modeled on the success of EPA's brownfields redevelopment
program -- which, without us writing any regulations -- has provided vital resources for more than
250 communities to chart their own course toward revitalization.


     The EPA Better America Bonds program will provide $700 million in new tax credits to
leverage, over five years, almost $10 billion worth of state and local bonds to build more livable
communities. That's billions of new dollars for preserving open space, protecting drinking water
quality, and redeveloping city centers.
   
    We'll be encouraging regional approaches -- cities working with counties working with
states. If Baltimore city, for example, wanted to team up with Baltimore County and other
surrounding areas to preserve wetlands, let's say, or redevelop brownfields, or create a park, or
all those things together -- they could apply for bonding authority under the Better America
Bonds program.     And it's a great deal. Millions of dollars, no-interest, and a 15-year grace period to pay
back the original investment -- an innovative way to fund the hopes and dreams of our nation's
communities.


     He also announced another great initiative, another innovative funding opportunity for
communities -- a new $200 million Clean Air Partnership Fund. This EPA program will provide
new resources for states, cities, and tribes to reduce soot, smog, air toxics, and greenhouse gases
that contribute to climate change.


     The money would go to new anti-pollution technologies and innovative approaches
dealing with more than one pollutant at a time. But most importantly, the fund would build public-private partnerships to find the most creative, cost-effective ways to meet air quality standards.


     Indeed, whenever we work together, whenever we stop to tap into this nation's vast
reserves of ingenuity, we always make progress, we always move forward, we always find
solutions that no one had thought of before.


     We're counting on partnerships, the nation working together, to meet one of our greatest
environmental challenges -- climate change. In addition to the Clean Air Partnership Fund, the
President proposed tax cuts for consumers who purchase energy-efficient products, more money
for energy efficiency and pollution prevention technologies, and a program for early, voluntary
action to reduce greenhouse gases -- all approaches that increase our competitiveness and grow
our economy.


     The state of our union is strong. With the President's new initiatives, we are poised to
enter a new century of opportunity for all Americans, responsibility from all Americans, in a
community of all Americans. Together, we can say that we thought not only of our own children,
but of theirs. As the Americans who will see this nation cross from one millennium to the next --
that is our most solemn responsibility.


     Thank you.