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EPA New England Announces Creation of Energy and Climate Change Team
Release Date: 12/19/2001
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)
CHELMSFORD – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office today announced it is creating an Energy and Climate Change Team in the agency's regional office to help boost energy efficiency and the use of renewable power across New England.
EPA Regional Administrator Robert Varney made the announcement at today's grand opening of the agency's new environmentally-friendly regional laboratory in Chelmsford. The 66,000-square-foot facility includes an array of environmental features, including energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and is powered entirely by renewable energy, primarily wind power.
"The creation of the Energy and Climate Change Team reflects my conviction that, through greater energy efficiency and development of cleaner energy sources, New England can meet its energy needs while ensuring the health of our environment," Varney said. "Through more efficient appliances, buildings and automobiles, we can slash our energy demands with no reduction in the quality of our lives. And through increased use of renewable energy such as wind power and small, decentralized sources of energy such as fuel cells, we reduce the risks of unreliable foreign supplies and terrorist attacks."
Energy use has an enormous impact on New England's air quality, water quality, climate, forests and nature habitats. Burning fossil fuels for electricity generation and transportation results in most of the air pollutants emitted in New England. These pollutants contribute to global climate change, unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone (smog), acid precipitation and the release of mercury into our environment. Some power plants also use millions of gallons of fresh- or salt-water each day to cool turbines, in the process destroying fish and fish larvae and warming local water bodies.
By pooling and coordinating staff resources, Varney said the new Energy and Climate Change Team will be in a better position to promote energy efficiency and renewable power, support states efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and streamline permitting of energy-related facilities and infrastructure. Among the team's specific goals is achieving the recent commitment by the New England Governors, along with the Eastern Canadian Premiers, to reduce emission of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010.
Improved energy efficiency not only leads to less environmental damage and more reliable energy, it also saves consumers and businesses money. Varney said the Energy and Climate Change Team will promote increased energy efficiency through such voluntary initiatives as EPA's Energy Star Program – a program that has already saved New England businesses and organizations more than $1.9 billion on their energy bills – and the national Performance Track Program, which already has 33 companies and organizations participating from New England. The team will also be expanding initiatives such as the Cities for Climate Change Protection Program, which has more than two-dozen municipalities participating from New England.
"For companies and communities that are struggling with tight budgets, it makes even more sense now to invest in energy efficiency than it ever did," Varney said. "EPA stands ready to provide assistance with energy audits and other tools that show how they can improve their efficiency and reduce their costs."
The Energy and Climate Change Team will also:
- Ensure that all EPA New England's energy-related activities – from air and water permitting to the environmental review of new projects – are well coordinated and consistent with EPA's policies to ensure a reliable energy infrastructure and reduced impact on the environment.
- Reduce motor vehicle emission impacts by encouraging more New Englanders to travel to and from work by commuter rail, buses, trains and car/van pools. Many of these changes will be done by expanding participation in EPA's Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative, a voluntary program that recognizes companies and organizations that provide financial incentives to employees using environmentally-friendly commuter modes.
- Work to create greater customer demand for energy generated by renewable energy sources – and recognize those customers through EPA's Green Power Partnership – and assist in the development of new wind and solar projects.
- Increase public awareness of climate change science and the relationship between New Englanders' energy use and their environment.
Through a region-wide ‘Tread Lightly' program, EPA New England's facilities reduced their energy consumption by 7 percent in the first year. The goal is a 20 percent reduction by Earth Day 2002 and 30 percent by 2003.
For more information on the lab, visit www.epa.gov/region1/about/lab/index/html.