Speeches By EPA Administrator
Administrator Johnson, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, Paris, France05/16/2006
This year, we are celebrating the Environmental Protection Agency’s 35th Anniversary. 3½ decades ago, America awoke to the health and environmental impacts of rampant and highly visible pollution ... rivers so contaminated that they caught on fire, entire towns built upon sites so toxic that the only recourse was to abandon them, and air pollution so thick that in some cities people actually had to change their shirts twice a day.
But looking back, we see much to celebrate – our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected. Over our 35 years, EPA has not just changed the way our environment looks, EPA has changed the way our businesses, communities and individuals look at their role in protecting our environment. Today, Americans understand that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility.
Pollution knows no political boundaries, and in the U.S., we recognize our environmental responsibility doesn’t stop at our borders.
During my recent visit to China, the vital importance of strong international cooperation and partnership was evident at every turn. Whether addressing air emissions, cooperating on hazardous wastes, or promoting recycled materials … we saw that by working together on our common environmental challenges, the U.S. and China have the opportunity to move together toward a cleaner, healthier, more productive future both domestically and abroad.
Cooperation between the U.S. and Europe is no less vital to the environmental well-being of our world.
Just as we live in a global economy, we also live in a global environment.
I welcome this opportunity to reinforce this trans-Atlantic friendship. Together we can promote a healthier environment for our home nations and our global neighbors.
While newspaper headlines tend to focus on our differences, the United States and Europe are joined by some of the strongest ties in the world. We have similar societal values, our governmental institutions are shaped by the rule of law, and we are all committed to handing down a brighter future to the next generation. And through our bilateral trade and investment relationship, accounting for over $1.5 trillion, the reliability of our solid partnership is unmistakable.
And our ties don’t end at the bank – our common environmental interests are characterized by our shared goals to protect human health and the environment, today and for the future. The priority of providing our residents with clean drinking water is shared from Paris to Washington. The commitment of providing our children with breathable air is mutual from New York City to Brussels. And the concern of protecting our global environment connects us all, regardless of on which side of the Atlantic we reside. These shared goals require us to work together to advance innovative policies and technologies to meet our common challenges.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency remains fully committed to a productive trans-Atlantic environmental relationship – continuing the historic legacy of European-U.S. partnerships. Our environmental partnership is strengthened by our ability to share experiences and learn from each other. When I look out the window of EPA’s office in Washington, D.C., I see the hand of Pierre L’Enfant, the French-born engineer, architect, and urban designer whose talent and vision created a European-style city as the capital of the United States.
As we are all aware, this essential exchange of insights and experiences did not end 200 years ago. This historic and valuable dialogue of cooperation must continue between Europe and the United States in order to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st Century and beyond.
Europe and the United States must continue to advance opportunities for meaningful interactions if we are to provide leadership to the rest of the world.
When President Bush asked me to head EPA, he charged me with accelerating the pace of environmental protection while maintaining our nation’s economic competitiveness. The European Union and your member states face a similar challenge. I believe the U.S. and Europe have much to learn from each other on how to best achieve these shared ends.
In order to meet the President’s goal, I identified the priority policy areas to focus my Administration’s efforts. They are: protecting the global environment; providing our residents with cleaner air and affordable energy; promoting clean and safe water; and, developing healthy communities and ecosystems. These are not revolutionary ideas – in fact, they are the fundamental values we all share. I’d like to describe some of the U.S.’s most innovative programs in several of these areas, with the hope we can increase our dialogue to affectively address our common objectives.
First, let me address the U.S. climate policies. Even with a dramatic increase in economic activity, the U.S. is making significant progress toward President Bush’s greenhouse gas reduction goal by working with our partners to reduce their climate footprints in cost-effective ways, both at home and abroad. We are meeting our commitment to be a good global neighbor.
While overall greenhouse gas emissions during 2004 increased in the U.S. by 1.7 percent from the previous year, it occurred during a period of economic expansion. And while the U.S. economy expanded by 51 percent from 1990 to 2004, emissions have grown by only 15.8 percent over the same period.
The Bush Administration has implemented an aggressive yet practical strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting advances in clean technology and engaging the developing world – all the while, protecting the American economy.
Climate change must be viewed as a long-term challenge, requiring a long-term solution. Our long-term goal is to reverse the growth in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Bush Administration has an unparalleled financial, international and domestic commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In fiscal year 2006, the U.S. will commit resources totaling $5.5 billion … nearly $2 billion to fund climate science programs, and nearly $3 billion for advances in clean hydrogen, coal, and carbon sequestration technologies.
Domestically, EPA is working hand-in-hand with business to voluntarily reduce their climate footprints in cost-effective ways. Through EPA’s Climate Leaders program, we are encouraging individual companies to set corporate-wide greenhouse gas reduction goals, develop comprehensive long term reduction strategies, and inventory their emissions to determine progress. Since 2002, the program has grown to include 84 corporations whose U.S. emissions represent approximately eight percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. We estimate that by meeting their goals, our Climate Leader partners will prevent more than eight million metric tons of carbon emissions equivalents per year – equal to the emissions of five million cars.
Internationally, President Bush and EPA are delivering global environmental results through innovative international collaborations. EPA’s Methane to Markets Partnership promotes the cost-effective recovery of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and energy source. Seventeen countries have joined the program, most recently India – the third largest methane-emitting country in the world – since its launch in November 2004. By exporting our successes in methane recovery, EPA and our partners are taking methane waste and turning it into environmental and economic wealth.
In addition, the U.S. recently launched the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. By working with partner countries, including two of the fastest growing economies in the world – India and China – under President Bush’s leadership, EPA is promoting the transformational technologies to protect the environment, improve public health, and enhance economic growth worldwide.
Working with other nations to share in our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cost-effective ways, the U.S. is helping our partner nations understand that environmental protection and economic progress can, in fact, go hand in hand.
Just like greenhouse gas emissions, airborne mercury pollution knows no political boundary. The United States has proposed a series of partnerships to address mercury that the UN Environment Program Governing Council approved in February 2005. The U.S. and Europe share the common belief that joining forces to reduce mercury use and emissions today, makes sense to the health of our global environment tomorrow.
We invite Europe to help us shape and implement these partnerships. The U.S. is working on the challenges posed by gold mining in West Africa and we welcome French or other European donor involvement in that region. We would also invite Europe’s involvement in the work we are considering to reduce India’s mercury-containing products. And these are just two examples – clearly, there is much we can accomplish if we work together to address this critical global challenge.
Global emissions and transport of mercury are issues of concern to us all, and the United States has been a driving force behind international partnerships to achieve voluntary reductions in use and emissions reductions of mercury globally. And our partnerships don’t end there.
In 2002, at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, EPA worked with the UN Environment Program to launch an international Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles. The Partnership works to address urban air pollution in developing and transitional countries.
EPA is proud to join the Program’s efforts to remove lead from gasoline and sulfur from diesel fuel. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this program helped all countries successfully phase out lead in gasoline by the end of 2005 - just three years after it was launched. By drawing on U.S. and European experience and expertise in this area, we have to potential to make that black puff of diesel smoke a thing of the past.
Building on the successes of EPA's domestic efforts to reduce emissions from diesel engines, EPA is working with our partners in industry and advocacy in several countries – including China, India, Brazil, and Mexico – to reduce sulfur in diesel fuel. In America we are producing innovations in energy technology that are powering our nation’s economy and driving our environmental success. In order to spread the advances in new diesel engine technology, EPA is funding and providing technical expertise for diesel retrofit demonstration projects in Mexico City, Bangkok, Beijing, Santiago, and India.
In the U.S., EPA is advancing the technologies that are good for our environment, good for our economy, and good for our energy security. And given the current concerns about energy prices and, especially, the long-term security of energy supplies, I’m sure energy security is also a topic on the minds of many in this room.
President Bush believes, in order to keep America’s economy and our environment improving, we must promote energy that is reliable, secure, and clean. Technology is the key to this effort … especially the technology that will support the more efficient and economical production of renewable fuels.
Renewable fuels play an increasing role in America’s energy and environmental strategy … supporting the reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels, and creating opportunities for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2001, under President Bush’s leadership, our nation has funded nearly $10 billion in developing energy sources that are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable … making the United States one of the world’s leaders in the use of renewable transport fuels and the largest single producer and consumer of ethanol fuel in the world.
In August of 2005, President Bush signed into law the “Energy Policy Act of 2005,” which included an aggressive Renewable Fuel Standard that will almost double the amount of renewable fuel produced from American crops by 2012. EPA has the responsibility for developing the regulatory plan that will implement and enforce these new provisions. Nationwide, America’s air is the cleanest it has been in the past three decades, and the President believes renewable fuels are the next step in our nation’s steady march toward cleaner, healthier air.
America’s investments in Energy Star technologies are also helping to enhance our energy, economic and environmental future. In 2004 alone, through EPA’s Energy Star program, Americans saved enough energy to power 24 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 20 million cars, all the while saving $10 billion in energy costs.
We are pleased to be working closely with the European Commission to strengthen our bilateral agreement on Energy Star standards for office equipment. Energy efficiency investments can help all of us by lowering energy prices, reducing the strain on electricity systems, and lowering air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. is on the verge of dramatic change for how we power our cars, our homes and our businesses … and innovation – including innovations in energy-reducing technologies – is the catalyst of this change. By working together with our partners across the Atlantic, I hope to move together toward a brighter, healthier future.
As I said earlier, while there are those who focus on our differences, the United States and Europe are joined by some of the strongest ties in the world. And while we may differ on the paths, we agree on the goals of working together to promote a healthier, safer environment for our home nations and our global neighbors. It is vital that we continue to exchange information on what is working – and just as important, what is not working – as we continue to move toward our shared goals.
The United States is committed to meeting the President’s charge of accelerating the pace of environmental protection while maintaining our nation’s economic competitiveness. And I believe this goal and others are shared by our European friends.
Our ability to achieve these common objectives is only enhanced by our continued cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. I speak for 18,000 environmental professionals at EPA who are proud of their accomplishments, willing to share their experiences, and eager to learn from each of you.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.