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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Bio-based Products Stakeholders Forum, Washington, D.C.

10/09/2002
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the Bio-based Products Stakeholders Forum
Washington, D.C.

October 9, 2002


Thank you John (Becker) for that introduction.

I = m happy to be here today to discuss the promise bio-based products hold for our future and the importance of cooperation and partnership in transforming the possibility of a large and flourishing bio-based industry into a reality.

Carbon-based products from both fossil and renewable sources play a critical role in our economy. They are everywhere B in our fuels, in our clothing, vehicles, and homes. As you know, for much of the 19th century renewable resources such as trees and grasses were the primary source for such products.

However, with our growing understanding of chemical and physical sciences, and engineering, coupled with the increased demands of the industrial revolution, fossil fuels began to replace renewable resources becoming the dominant raw material for energy, chemicals, and products in the 20th century.

Today, everything old is new again. As, the cost and security risks of fossil fuel imports as well as environmental concerns with increased pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have renewed our interest in bio-based energy and products.

America depends on biomass to provide 3% of its energy and more than 300 billion pounds of products annually. And there is potential for even greater use and production. Utilizing bio-based energy and products can have a profound impact on our energy, economy, and environment.

By reducing our dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels, the bio-based industry will increase our energy security. Bio-based fuels are one of several renewable energy options, including solar, wind, and geothermal that can replace fossil fuels, but bio-based products are the only replacement option for petroleum based products.

President Bush = s historic national energy strategy wisely includes measures to help promote energy conservation and reduce our reliance on conventional fuel sources. Bio-based products hold a great deal of potential as an alternative fuel source. Increasing the usage of alternative and renewable energy is not only an integral part of our energy future, but our environmental future as well.

EPA can play an important role in developing, promoting, and working with states and industry to insure the use of biomass as a clean, renewable energy source. Currently, EPA is working to review health effects and emission reduction data on biodiesel fuel prepared by the National Biodiesel Board. Once our review is completed, we will provide analysis summarizing this information, and we look forward to working with you in addressing any areas of concern.

In addition to energy benefits, there are also economic benefits to expanding the bio- based industry. A greater use of bio-based products will stimulate economic growth, especially in rural, farm, and forest economies where new markets will open up for their products and by- products. In addition, by increasing the use of biomass and residues we will improve the health of our agricultural lands and our forests.

Bio-based products also have the potential to provide considerable environmental benefits. They have the ability to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide, while adding little if any carbon emissions to the atmosphere. They often require less energy to produce than the fossil and inorganic products they replace, and they reduce waste.

While the environmental benefits are great, biological feedstock growth, processing, and use can pose environmental challenges as well. As we move forward, we need to ensure that we do so in a manner that addresses and minimizes potential problems, while getting the most out of the environmental benefits these products offer.

An established bio-based industry already exists in areas that include paper and packaging and wood construction materials. Yet as science and technology advance, the future of the bio- based industry is wide open with emerging bio-based products such as inks, enzymes, cleaning agents, paints, and pharmaceuticals.

In order to fully harness the potential of these products, the federal government has to be a leader on this issue. At EPA, we have actively worked to increase the purchase and use of bio- based products through several programs.

The Comprehensive Procurement Program (CPG) and the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program (EPP) designate recycled content and environmentally preferable products that the federal government should purchase in place of similar products that do not contain recycled materials.

EPA = s Office of Solid Waste has issued CPGs for 54 products, including construction, paper, and transportation products. As businesses, state and local governments, and other organizations make decisions about purchasing bio-based products, they can easily adapt the product designations EPA has developed, and we encourage them to do so.

We are also working with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive to conduct a federal interagency trade fair in November 2003 to encourage and promote the procurement of recycled and bio-based products.

In addition, our Office of Research and Development is a leader in the development and application of lifecycle methodologies that can be used to evaluate the cost and benefits associated with bio-based products from the time of their production, through their usage, and ultimate disposal.

EPA possesses a wealth of experience with bio-based products that can complement efforts by the United States Agriculture Department and the Department of Energy to increase the use of bio-based products and further explore their potential.

EPA has been an active participant with other federal partners in the USDA/USDOE Biomass Research and Development Board and through this initiative it has become clear that within our own agency we must consolidate our efforts on this issue in order to develop a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to promoting bio-based products produced in environmentally friendly ways.

At the same time EPA will look for ways to streamline our regulatory processes for approval of your products.

And, as we work to promote the use of these products throughout the country, it will take a similar coordinated effort on the part of all stakeholders and a willingness to work together in order to achieve success.

At this forum, government officials, agriculture leaders, bio-based manufacturers, and procurement officers are all gathered to reinforce their commitment to the future of this industry.

It is my hope that as we move forward together, delving into the potential of this industry, we will reap a harvest of economic, energy, and environmental benefits that will lead to a more secure and healthy America for this and future generations. Thank you.