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Release Date: 03/30/98
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EPA has achieved real progress in reinventing the nation's environmental regulatory system, according to a new report released today by the Agency. The improvements in environmental regulation are part of the Clinton Administration's broad-based, overall reinvention effort to make government work better and more cost-effectively for all citizens, communities and businesses.
Vice President Al Gore said, “This Administration is reinventing government to make it more efficient and more responsive, and part of that is common-sense reform of our environmental programs. We’re cutting red tape, we’re working with industry on pollution prevention, and we’re giving people the information they need to keep their families safe. We’re protecting the environment, and growing the economy at the same time.”

“As a result of the Clinton Administration's efforts, EPA is doing more today than ever before to protect public health and the environment with far less cost and regulatory burden,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “We are making good on this Administration's commitment that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.”

EPA's reinvention efforts began in March 1995 in response to Vice President Gore's challenge to all federal agencies and departments to create a federal government that is more efficient and costs less.

“There is a right way to bring about change, and there is a wrong way,” Browner said. “EPA will continue to provide innovative reforms that promise greater environmental protection at less cost. However, we also will continue to fight those actions, proposed under the guise of reform, that would roll back basic protections that benefit the health of our people and our children.”

EPA's new report, entitled “The Changing Nature of Environmental and Public Health Protection,” tracks the success of EPA's reinvention efforts over the past three years, including:

Dramatic increases in the public's access to environmental information and agency data. The Clinton Administration is committed to the idea that effective environmental protection begins with the broadest public access to information about pollution and environmental matters.
--As a result of improvements to EPA's website, visits to the site have increased from less than a hundred thousand per month to over 27 million last month.

--For the first time ever, consumers will begin receiving reports from their local providers on the quality of their drinking water.

--Citizens now know more about toxic chemicals in their communities through expansion of EPA's Public Right To Know Program. The total number of facilities reporting under the Toxic Release Inventory has expanded by about 25 percent.

--Labels on pesticides and other household products are being written in clear, easy-to-understand English to ensure safe use.

--Vacationers will soon have access better to information on whether beaches and coastal areas are safe for swimming.

Significant reductions in paperwork and regulatory burdens. The Clinton Administration is making the largest effort ever undertaken by the federal government to eliminate needless paperwork and weed out or streamline frustrating bureaucratic procedures.

--At EPA, over 1,300 pages of obsolete or duplicative environmental requirements have been taken off of the books.

--The previous regulatory burden has been slashed by 20 million hours, a savings of $600 million.

--Administrative reforms to the Superfund program has resulted in more sites being cleaned up in the past five years of the program than in its first 12 years. Today, as a result of these reforms, cleanups are 20 percent faster and 20 percent less costly.

New ways to prevent and control pollution that promise to move beyond the old command-and-control approach. Under new programs, EPA is testing innovative ways to achieve greater environmental protection while giving increased flexibility to those who know industrial facilities best -- the people who manage those facilities.

--Through the Common Sense Initiative, which explores the possibility of enhanced environmental protection through cooperative agreements with entire industrial sectors, the metal finishing industry has adopted a set of unprecedented performance goals. These goals, which could affect as many as 11,000 firms nationwide, could cut toxic emissions from the industry by up to 75 percent compared to 1992 levels.

--Incentives for obtaining greater environmental protection now are being incorporated into rulemaking. For example, a major rule recently issued to control pollution from the pulp and paper industry allows companies a compliance delay if they commit to go beyond current requirements and install more advanced technologies.

--Under Project XL, which allows more flexibility to individual facilities in exchange for greater environmental protection, EPA is currently working with 27 different companies. The Merck pharmaceutical company, for example, gained a streamlined environmental permitting process for a Virginia plant so it could introduce needed new products to market more quickly. In return, Merck agreed to go beyond compliance with air quality standards and reduce its total air emissions by 20 percent, an action that is expected to improve visibility and reduce acid rain in nearby Shenandoah National Park.

The report as well as the executive summary can be found on EPA’s web site at:

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