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Release Date: 03/17/99
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today reported that its reinvention efforts have dramatically increased public access to environmental information and saved businesses and communities more than $2.4 billion a year while ensuring the highest protection of public health and the environment.
“Under Vice President Gore’s leadership in reinventing government, environmental programs today are more flexible, more cost-effective, and based on common sense,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “The Clinton Administration’s reinvention efforts are saving businesses and communities billions of dollars a year and eliminating millions of hours in needless paperwork. Citizens are receiving unprecedented amounts of information about toxic chemicals and pollution in their neighborhoods. And, at the same time, the protection of public health and the environment is at its highest level.”

EPA’s reinvention successes are outlined in an annual report issued today that highlights the environmental and economic benefits from the Agency’s partnership programs. The latest data show businesses and communities saved $1.6 billion last year by eliminating 7.6 million tons of solid waste, preventing 79 million metric tons of air pollution, saving nearly six million gallons of clean water, and conserving enough energy to light 56 million households for a year.

In addition to the cost savings from these programs, another $807 million was saved by cutting unnecessary environmental paperwork. By streamlining regulatory processes and abolishing outdated provisions, the time businesses and communities spend on paperwork has been reduced by 26.9 million hours a year. Further reinvention advances in 1998 included:
      Expanding the public’s right-to-know---

With 40 million “hits” on its website every month, the Agency reported major strides in providing the public with better access to environmental information. In April, Vice President Gore announced a new program that challenges the chemical industry to provide missing information on about 2,800 of the nation’s most widely used toxic chemicals to the public. The year also brought the creation of the Agency’s first information office; the opening of a new online Center for Environmental Information and Statistics (CEIS) that enables citizens to get environmental profiles about their community by typing in their zip code; and an expansion of the Toxic Release Inventory that will increase reporting on emissions of persistent, bioaccumulative toxic chemicals, such as mercury and dioxin, by 25 percent.
      Making urban areas more livable---
The Agency is working to find creative solutions to problems that have not been fully addressed and to increase flexibility in the implementation of environmental programs. EPA’s “Smart Growth” efforts are helping more communities avoid poorly planned development, urban decay and loss of valuable green space. Through a new $5 million national grant program launched in 1998, EPA is offering 45 communities seed money for sustainable development initiatives in agricultural, rural and urban settings.

The Agency doubled its investment in revitalizing brownfields --- abandoned, idle or unused properties tainted by environmental contamination. In the past year, $21 million was provided to communities, bringing the total of such awards to over $42 million. In addition, 16 projects became eligible for up to $28 million in grants from EPA and other federal agencies to create “Brownfield Showcase” communities for the nation.
      Ensuring clean water and safe drinking water---
A comprehensive Clean Water Action Plan developed with unprecedented cooperation at the federal level offers the first multi-agency budget for clean water programs and specifies more than 100 actions to address high priority problems, such as polluted runoff from livestock operations. More than 300 small communities facing new requirements under the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act got special help in 1998 when the Agency began administering the federal government’s first loan program for drinking water improvements.
      Helping small businesses and communities---
Market-based trading continued to emerge as a practical, cost-effective way to improve air quality and watershed protection. In September, EPA issued a flexible plan that would allow most areas to meet federal smog standards without having to implement costly new controls. This approach has the potential to cut the cost of eliminating a ton of emissions from as much as $10,000 to about $1,500.

New policies and tools were offered to help small businesses and communities, in particular, comply with environmental requirements and improve environmental performance. In 1998, the Agency opened five more compliance assistance centers over the Internet, bringing the total to nine, to give specific sectors quick, easy access to the latest environmental regulatory requirements and pollution prevention information. As of December, 318 companies had corrected and publicly disclosed environmental violations at 1,668 facilities under a 1996 policy that encourages self-auditing by reducing or eliminating enforcement penalties.

Copies of the annual reinvention report, “Reinventing Environmental Protection: 1998 Annual Report,” are available from the National Center for Publications and Information at 800-490-9198. The report also is available on the Agency’s website at:

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