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Administration Officials Visit Chicago, Dubuque on Sustainable Communities Tour

Release Date: 09/17/2009
Contact Information: press@epa.gov, 202-564-6794

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA, DOT, HUD and White House Urban Affairs officials learn from local efforts and announce proposals to support sustainable communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion kicked off their three-city Sustainable Communities Tour today. The officials, representing the administration’s DOT-HUD-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, announced proposals during stops in Chicago and Dubuque that will help communities to improve access to affordable housing, provide additional low-cost transportation options, and protect the local environment.

Administrator Jackson, Secretary LaHood, Director Carrion and HUD Senior Advisor for Sustainable Communities Shelley Poticha first joined Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to tour the Bethel Center in West Garfield Park, a community that is being redeveloped with a focus on affordable energy-efficient homes, traffic reduction strategies, brownfield redevelopment, and close proximity to schools and jobs. The officials then delivered keynote addresses at the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Council’s annual luncheon.

In her remarks, Administrator Jackson made several announcements designed to further the partnership’s and administration’s commitment to sustainable communities. Those announcements included:

  • EPA will soon launch an Urban Waters initiative to help urban communities - particularly disadvantaged communities - reconnect with and revitalize their waterways. EPA will work directly with HUD and DOT and other federal, state, and local officials to coordinate work to help communities clean up urban waters and restore the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • EPA will work to help states better target State Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Fund investments to cost-effective, sustainable approaches to water infrastructure. EPA will also provide technical assistance to three pilot states that wish to explore the flexibility they have to achieve these goals.
  • Four state and local governments will receive technical assistance through the agency’s Smart Growth Implementation program. The State of California, the cities of Las Cruces, N.M., and Louisville, Ky., and Montgomery County, Md. will receive technical assistance on sustainability issues from a team of EPA, HUD, DOT staff and national experts, which EPA will pay for and coordinate.

“We have a vision of vibrant, diverse communities that are environmentally sustainable and economically resilient. Chicago and Dubuque offer some of the nation’s best examples of Smart Growth, and these visits give us a chance to see first hand how we make our vision real for communities everywhere,” said Administrator Jackson. “Sustainable communities require the coordination of environmental strategy, transportation planning, and housing policy – which is why President Obama has brought together this interagency partnership to get it done.”

"Today we saw first-hand how Chicago and Dubuque are figuring out what works - and where additional support is needed - to build livable and sustainable neighborhoods," said Secretary LaHood. "We'll return to Washington inspired by the successes of these cities and guided by the lessons they've learned. And working together with HUD, EPA and the White House, the DOT will take every opportunity to coordinate federal investments that will make American communities cleaner, greener, and more sustainable."

“The President has made it very clear,” said Director Carrion. “The present path of development for many of our urban areas is unsustainable. When 80 percent of Americans live in urban centers, and these communities serve to a great extent as the economic and cultural life blood of our country, we have to identify the best ideas that allow us to uplift these areas with a goal of long-term sustainability and increased quality of life. We simply cannot accept anything less.”

The secretaries and the administrator also jointly announced their work with the administration to develop a fully coordinated legislative and regulatory strategy. This coordinated effort will focus on ensuring that all three agencies programs are fully aligned and working effectively together to attain the goals set out in the partnership’s Sustainable Community Principles.

The tour continued in Dubuque with a tour of the historic Millwork District, which the city is transforming into a sustainable neighborhood with a focus on mixed income housing, multiple transportation options and minimized environmental impact. Local officials described their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions, cut transportation costs, and build more affordable homes near employment centers. The day concluded with a town hall meeting at the Grand River Center - a revitalized former brownfields site - where the officials discussed the city’s sustainability efforts with Dubuque residents.

In Dubuque, Secretary Donovan announced new steps that HUD is taking toward achieving the goals of the Sustainable Communities Partnership. The secretary announced new HUD guidelines to make it easier to recycle land and develop multifamily housing in communities across the country, while ensuring the environmental health and safety of future residents. The new guidelines remove a policy barrier to development in towns and cities across the country, often in places near jobs and transportation infrastructure where affordable housing is badly needed.

“There are properties across the country with good access to affordable transportation and jobs that could be developed into affordable housing but aren’t developed because of the federal red tape involved,” said Secretary Donovan. “The new guidelines being announced today will cut the red tape and provide more opportunities to develop affordable housing in communities across America.”

The two-day, three-city tour continues tomorrow in Denver, where the officials, joined once again by Director Carrion, will tour a housing complex and participate in a White House Office of Urban Affairs community forum focusing on sustainable communities in urban areas.

The tour is a part of the work that the agencies have committed to through the DOT-HUD-EPA interagency partnership the three agencies announced in June. The partnership, working closely with the White House Domestic Policy Council, is focused on bringing a new level of interagency collaboration and ensuring that housing and transportation goals that help attain sustainable growth are met while simultaneously protecting the environment, promoting equitable development, and addressing the challenges of climate change in rural, suburban and urban communities nationwide.