Contact Us

Newsroom

2000 News Releases

 

EPA REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE IN REGULATORY INNOVATION

Release Date: 12/08/2000
Contact Information:


FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2000

EPA REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE IN REGULATORY INNOVATION



Administrator Carol M. Browner today signed the 50th agreement under Project XL, one of the Agency’s leading efforts to improve environmental management.

The 50th project, sponsored by the Chicago Department of Environment, will promote cleaner air and greater economic development in the Chicago metropolitan area.

By offering regulatory flexibility in exchange for superior environmental performance, Project XL, which stands for eXcellence and Leadership, delivers results that are good for businesses, communities and the environment. The project culminates one of the major Clinton Administration efforts to reform the regulatory system and improve public health and environmental protection.

“Project XL’s 50 projects are a significant milestone in government innovation, fulfilling a central aspect of President Clinton’s vision for more common sense and fairness in protecting public health and the environment,” said Administrator Browner. “The lessons learned from these innovative projects are a major part of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to insure greater environmental protection through programs that are more flexible and more cost effective.”

Project XL creates more options for environmental management and provides a way to move state-of-the-art technology into the mainstream. For example, Georgia-Pacific is testing a new “gasification” technology to control emissions of hazardous pollutants. International Paper is testing new technology that predicts high levels of air emissions, so that the emissions can be prevented. IBM is testing new technology for reducing metal contaminants in its waste stream.

Project XL offers incentives for businesses to improve environmental performance. Several projects are testing innovative facility-wide emissions caps that offer flexibility for facility expansion in return for lower emissions. Anderson Window Corporation is testing an alternative permit that allows production increases without further permit review, as long as the plant continues to cut air emissions and improve production efficiency. Intel is testing a facility-wide pollution cap that allows it to expand and add new facilities as long as emissions stay below plant-wide limits, which are lower than typical emissions from two gas stations. Merck is testing a cap that eliminates permit review for equipment or process changes as long as emissions stay below the cap. The company also has the option to lower the cap instead of using specific control technologies that might be required by future regulations.

Project XL also promotes common sense strategies that integrate community needs. Atlanta has serious traffic and air quality problems due to its rapid growth. Their XL project allows redevelopment of a brownfields industrial site into a major mixed-use development in a transit-friendly location, which will create less air pollution than a similar facility built on the city outskirts. Boston found a safe, but less expensive way to handle and dispose of lead-based paint debris. Their XL project allows the flexibility to use this option and redirect the money saved to remove lead from more homes and protect more children from lead exposure.

The agreement signed today with Chicago is testing an innovative strategy to encourage economic development in low income areas, while protecting and improving local air quality. The Clean Air Act requires a new major source of emissions (such as a factory) to purchase emissions offsets if they wish to locate in an area that doesn’t meet air quality standards. In the Chicago project, businesses which locate in designated development zones will be given an alternative method of complying with the offset requirement. Chicago will create a “bank” of emission reduction credits through a variety of activities. Businesses locating in development zones would draw on the bank and avoid the expense of having to purchase emissions offsets elsewhere. In addition, Chicago will retire 40 percent of the emissions reductions it generates for the bank, resulting in cleaner air for the region.

In order for these experiments to realize their full potential, lessons learned must be used to improve EPA programs. Project XL pilots are continually evaluated for broader application, and compliance alternatives tested in early XL projects are now being applied in new EPA regulations.

Further information on Project XL, including a listing of the 50 projects, is available at: www.epa.gov/projectxl/learnabt.htm

R-187 ###