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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), As Prepared

03/12/2009
As prepared for delivery.


Thank you for inviting me to be here. I’m pleased to be with you and to welcome you all here this morning.

I want to congratulate you and thank you for coming together to form this group.

Leadership from the business community is essential to our success in protecting human health and the environment, and I am very happy to count you as partners in this work.

Many of you have been engaged with the EPA for years through programs like the Green Power Partnership, or been recognized for your industry leadership in renewable energy usage.

Bringing together this coalition and lending your combined voices to this tremendous effort is the crucial next step.

We are meeting today at an important moment in our history.

As a nation, we face the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Every American is anxious about what that means – not just for their future but for the next generation as well. The President and his staff are working round the clock to bolster investor confidence, to keep people in their homes and to get credit flowing into the market again.

At the same time, there isn’t a moment to lose in confronting the rapid advance of climate change.

This is not an academic discussion anymore. We don’t have the luxury of a far-off day of reckoning. Many of the world’s best scientists set a timeline that puts notable, if not drastic, changes within our lifetimes if we don’t start right away.

Changes in migratory patterns for birds, ocean acidification, retreating glaciers, more and more powerful hurricanes every season – these are symptoms of a developing challenge.

So for the first time, we are embarking in earnest on an aggressive effort to protect public health and the environment.

The President has committed to double our clean energy use in the next three years, and we have set an ambitious goal of cutting more that 80% of harmful greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

As the EPA Administrator, that work on the environment is in large measure my responsibility, and I intend to follow through.

But I am also a mother and a consumer. I have two sons that want to wear Nikes and have Timberland gear. I get coffee from Starbucks. I would also like to send my sons to college someday, so the long-term stability of our economy is a major concern.

I understand what it is like for people that are struggling to meet the many financial needs of having a family, especially today. The last thing I want to do is drive up prices on consumers, or make an already difficult situation worse for businesses and investors.

In short, this is a moment of great challenges for all of us.

But there is plenty of triumph that we can make from that adversity. One of the most important advances we've seen is embodied in this meeting.

Not very long ago, the thought of a powerful industry group fighting to strengthen climate and energy policy was the kind of thing that environmentalists only dreamed about.

These two communities are understanding that this moment of challenge is something we face together. We share a vision and a broad set of goals.

From that understanding has come a whole world of opportunities.

President Obama has made very clear that we don’t have to choose between a green economy and a green environment. It was part of his campaign, and is now part of this administration.

In fact, he has made the development of green technologies and green jobs a key component of our economic recovery.

At Recovery.gov, the website for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the emblem they have designed to represent the plan is divided into a red portion, a blue portion, and a green portion – representing billions of dollars invested in growing the green economy.

Along with moving beyond the false choice between having a green economy or having a green environment, we have risen above many of the past divides that often slowed down environmental protection.

Today in the congress and throughout the nation, there is tremendous, bipartisan support for green jobs, smart growth, clean energy, and the long list of ideas and innovations that will grow the economy and improve our planet.

Right now, we have greater opportunities to protect public health and the environment than any other time in the history of the EPA.

When I’ve spoken to reporters, industry leaders, community members, or other stakeholders, I’ve tried to send a very clear, consistent message. It’s the message that I’m here to give you, and that I hope you will join with me in carrying it. That message is that the EPA is back on the job.

That means a few different things.

We have much to do in restoring the country’s faith in our ability to protect the air, water, and land – now and for future generations.

And we have much to do to ensure that communities directly impacted by environmental degradation have not only a voice, but a seat at the decision-making table.

When President Obama set out his environmental agenda, he established three principles that he wants to guide our work.

The first is that science must once again be the determining factor in EPA decision making. When we make a decision that will affect the health and welfare of a community, we must have an unwavering commitment to the very best scientific advice.

In just the last month, we have begun processes to re-examine previous decisions made at the agency – largely because of questions raised about whether they guided by science, or political interests.

That dilutes the effectiveness of our work, and raises serious questions of credibility for the people that we serve. It requires that we use our time and resources looking back when we absolutely need to be moving ahead.

The second guiding principle is adherence to the rule of law. I was sworn to uphold the law as it was passed.

This is another point where we won’t allow politics or other interests to interfere with work that must be done to protect health and the environment. I owe it to the President, the Congress and – most importantly – the American people, to uphold the law in my work everyday.

Third, we must operate with unparalleled transparency. For too long the people have had stood on the outside of the EPA, and many other agencies, and wondered who we were working for.

I want to send a clear signal to the people that we work for them. I want them and you to know who I am meeting with, what actions I am taking, and why I am taking them.

I want that standard of transparency not only because it is expected of EPA as a public agency, but because it helps show the average citizen that the issues of environmental protection are their issues. That we don’t operate in isolation or secrecy, and that we need their help in this process as well.

The great news is that we have plenty of support. The President has put an extraordinary amount of trust in us to advance EPA’s mission.

In the budget he sent to congress last month, President Obama gave the EPA the highest level of funding that we have seen in our 39 year history.

That also means that we have the highest level of expectation that we have seen in our 39 year history.

So we are already getting started.

In a little more than 30 days, we’ve already announced plans to review the California waiver on auto emissions and make a long-overdue determination on endangerment from greenhouse gases.

We're focusing resources on monitoring toxic air pollution around certain schools, to ensure that our nation's children are not exposed to harmful toxins in the place where they go to learn.

Earlier this week we proposed the very first national reporting requirements on greenhouse gas emissions. And we did that in a way that ensures that we are getting the best possible information without putting undue burden on small businesses.

Those reporting requirements will apply to companies like those that supply fossil fuels or industrial chemicals, manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines, as well as large, direct emitters of greenhouse gases. Anyone with emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons per year – about the same amount that comes from 4,500 cars on the road.

That threshold will exempt the vast majority of small businesses and still allow us to track 85 to 90 percent of the greenhouse emissions being produced.

These are critical times for our environment and our economy. Our shared response to these issues in the next few years is going to define the work of a generation.

And as I said, a major step has been made with the understanding that we share a vision.

We share a vision of billions of dollars in new economic activity, and millions of new jobs – created at the same time that we cut harmful emissions and free ourselves from dependence on heavily polluting energy sources.

We share a vision of clean, cheap energy that moves products, runs factories and keep business in motion. An energy supply that isn’t tied to non-renewable capacity or foreign supply lines, and isn’t subject to price jumps that can stop the economy in its tracks.

We share a vision of new jobs at all income and experience levels, from lab researchers and venture capitalists to maintenance and service technicians. We see revitalized jobs in manufacturing and a reborn American auto industry.

And we share a vision of a nation where economic development and environmental protection go hand in hand. Where the business community and the environmental community can move forward together – promoting both public health and welfare – rather than holding each other back.

A lot of that is years down the road. But it is coming.

In the next decade, we will see major adaptations and reforms to the way we do business. Companies in every part of the world are going to be integrating energy efficiency and environmental impact into their work – and not as a marginal concern, but as a core component of their business models.

You are all ahead of the curve. You are pioneering change, and proving every day that the environmentally sound thing to do is also the economically sound thing to do.

We are here to partner with you so that we can lay the foundations for that change together, and bring our shared vision to life.

This gathering is just the beginning. I commend all that you have done so far, and look forward to working with you and everyone in the business community in the months and years ahead.

Thank you again.