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EPA National Awards Ceremony, Washington, D.C.

Remarks for Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
EPA National Awards Ceremony
Washington, D.C.

May 15, 2003

Thank you Linda (Fisher) for that introduction. I also want to thank everyone who worked so hard over the past few months to put this special ceremony together.

It = s an honor to be here this morning to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and valuable contributions members of this Agency have made over the past year. The opportunity to express my appreciation for your hard work is one of the highlights of my job.

Since my time at EPA began, we have faced many difficult and unforeseen challenges.

On September 11, EPA personnel were some of the first men and women on the scene at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. Then, when anthrax was first released through our postal system EPA was again on the front lines leading the clean-up.

When the nation was learning of the space shuttle Columbia disaster, EPA swiftly moved to respond to the tragedy by making preparations to help manage recovery efforts.

Within hours, EPA emergency response employees and support personnel from across the country were called on to assist FEMA and NASA with recovering shuttle materials and protecting public health from the hazardous debris.

Throughout all these unexpected events, one thing has remained the same B the dedication and tireless commitment to public service displayed by everyone here at EPA.

A dedication and commitment that doesn't just occur in times of tragedy and disaster but is shown every day at headquarters, in our regional offices, and in our laboratories. Everywhere EPA employees are at work B there is an unparalleled determination to ensure the quality of that work.

Regardless of the task B whether finalizing a rule to protect our water or finding new ways to help children with asthma B every employee is actively engaged in the pursuit of our mission to protect human health and safeguard our precious natural resources.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, A Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.@ His legacy as a conservationist proves that he believed protecting the environment is work worth doing.

Each of you in this room today, through your efforts and accomplishments, have also demonstrated that same belief. Protecting our environment is indeed work worth doing, and I want to thank all of you for looking at your work as more than just a job, but rather as a service to our fellow Americans and our country.

While the entire EPA workforce does exceptional work, each year we take this time to honor those employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Our award recipients this year have done just that, they have accepted difficult challenges, made personal sacrifices to reach deadlines, and looked for new ways to advance our environmental mission.

From creating a voluntary program to reduce diesel exhaust in cities to promoting equal opportunity within the Agency to developing new methods to assess the cumulative risks of pesticides, all of our award winners have greatly supported and advanced the work of this Agency.

As we prepare to present the awards, I want to take a moment to recognize the award winners who could not be here today, because they are still serving abroad in our armed forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, their families and all of our EPA employees called to active duty, and we hope to see them back soon.

In addition, over the past year, we have lost several members of our EPA family, and I am grateful for the opportunity to honor them today and recognize their service to this Agency.

As we go forward for another year, I have confidence that with the type of drive and dedication shown by each of you in this room, we will continue to make significant strides towards making our air cleaner, water purer, and land better protected for this and future generations. And, that is work worth doing.

Congratulations and thank you.