Speeches By EPA Administrator
Administrator Johnson, Suppliers’ Partnership for the Environment Event, Detroit, MI01/12/2006
As you may know, this year EPA is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Our nation’s environmental well-being has dramatically improved over the last 35 years … and there is more work to be done over the next 35.
Since our creation, our approach to environmental protection has evolved. During the 1970s and 80s, EPA focused on solid, but incremental gains by mandating rules and regulations. Today, in order to address the environmental challenges of the 21st century, our focus is shifting to pollution prevention, innovation and collaboration.
And since 1970, we have learned that when acting alone, EPA can only accomplish so much. However, by working with our partners like you, EPA is meeting President Bush’s call to accelerate the pace of environmental progress, while maintaining out nation’s economic competitiveness.
The old way of thinking would have us believe that you must choose between protecting the environment and promoting economic growth. Are partners here have shown this is just not true. Not only can the environment and the economy progress together, we can leverage our environmental actions to create economic growth opportunities.
Our collaboration with you through the Suppliers’ Partnership for the Environment is a testament to that fact.
The Suppliers’ Partnership for the Environment is a collaboration between EPA, the automobile industry and its suppliers to improve environmental performance while providing value throughout the automobile supply chain.
It is a very unique forum where small, mid-sized and large automotive and vehicle suppliers can work together, learn from each other, and share environmental best practices.
This program started with a pilot program to “green” the supply chain of the Saturn Corporation. When I saw the early results – improved efficiency, enhanced environmental performance, cost savings – I remember saying: “Why would a company not want to participate in this program?”
I am very pleased to see that the auto industry thought the same way.
The work that Suppliers’ Partnership organization has done in just a few short years, with leaders like General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Johnson Controls, and the hard work of several suppliers large and small, is impressive.
EPA is happy to be a part of this effort. The technical assistance that we, working with our colleagues in the Department of Commerce and its Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and state organizations like the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is having a positive effect in enhancing the environmental performance of your suppliers.
To date, this technical assistance has been provided to 13 suppliers to the automotive industry resulting in a potential cost savings of over $6 million. These small suppliers are generating huge savings.
Through this effort, auto suppliers are increasing energy efficiency, conserving water, reducing the use of toxic materials, reducing emissions to the air and discharges to the water, reducing solid and hazardous waste, all while identifying significant cost-saving opportunities.
The result: companies with more effective processes and products, higher profits and fewer environmental impacts … companies who are leveraging environmental actions to create economic growth opportunities.
What many of you may not know is that your pioneering spirit has spread to other industrial sectors. The aerospace, healthcare and office furniture industries are following your lead under an umbrella network that we call the Green Suppliers Network.
Partners involved in these programs are answering the call to be good stewards not only in their business practices but also in their communities, whether it is in their backyard, across the country, or around the world.
There are many other opportunities to work together to meet environmental challenges through stewardship. Products emerging from green chemistry, green engineering, and Design for the Environment are available and integral to our efforts.
Let me leave you with this thought: What is next for our efforts together to accelerate environmental performance, while maintaining economic competitiveness?
I want to thank you again for inviting me here today and look forward to our continued work together to expand the ethic of environmental stewardship.