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Great Lakes Strategy Event, Muskegon, Michigan

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

at the

Great Lakes Strategy Event

Muskegon, Michigan

April 2, 2002

Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here with you today.

Thanks to the work of a great partnership, today is an exciting day for the health and safety of the Great Lakes.

Since President Bush and I took office, we have been highlighting the need to use partnerships to solve the environmental challenges we face.

The Great Lakes Strategy that we have developed is a perfect example of what we can accomplish by working together toward a common goal.

The Great Lakes are American treasures B home to residents from 8 states, and home away from home for vacationers and visitors from across the country.

Because of the size and broad appeal of the Great Lakes, it is natural that our partnership would include a wide variety of participants.

Under the direction of the U.S. Policy Committee, EPA worked together with state, local, and tribal governments, federal agencies, industries, environmental organizations, and the public to develop a strategy that would incorporate a basin-wide approach to environmental protection in this region.

Everyone who enjoys the Great Lakes can appreciate the goals we set for this strategy B to ensure that the Great Lakes basin is a healthy natural environment for wildlife and people, that its beaches are open for swimming, is fish are safe to eat, and that the lakes remain protected as a safe source of drinking water.

The Great Lakes Strategy B and these aggressive goals B will provide a framework for specific actions to protect and restore the lakes over the next several years.

While the plan focuses on large scale issues that affect multiple states and multiple lakes, many of the initiatives will happen at the local level and will lead to measurable improvements for the communities, and the greater basin as a whole.

One example of local activities having larger results is happening over at Grand Valley State University.

For a number of years, EPA has been working with the Water Resource Institute there to support their efforts to monitor water quality and conduct educational outreach projects through their research ship, The Jackson.

More important, EPA investments in this project have been more than doubled by leveraging private and community participation.

It is an example of the kind of local commitment to results we are counting on here in the Great Lakes basin.

Another goal of the Great Lakes Strategy is to limit the pollution that enters our air, and then gets deposited into the lakes.

We will be able to do that with President Bush = s new Clear Skies proposal, which will significantly improve air quality here in Michigan B and across the country.

This new proposal will reduce three harmful pollutants B nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury B from power plants by 70 percent over the next decade.

Clear Skies will be the most meaningful improvement to our clean air laws in more than a decade B and will significantly reduce the amount of mercury being deposited into the air around the Great Lakes.

That is good news for fish and fishermen B not to mention thousands of others who enjoy these great waters every day.

Clear Skies uses a system of cap-and-trade that places mandatory limits on emissions across the country, but gives power plants the flexibility they need to meet these targets in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

Clear Skies takes advantage of mandatory reductions, technological breakthroughs, and market forces to better and more quickly protect the health of our environment, ensure the health of our children and secure the health of our economy.

Clear Skies will achieve larger, faster, and more certain emissions reductions than are possible under the Clean Air Act.

We will get these important environmental results without unnecessary court battles, without risking American jobs, and without threatening our economy.

More important, these reductions will eliminate millions of tons of pollution from our air, unveil miles of smog-covered vistas at our national parks, and help protect the safety of our waterways.

After all, these are goals that we all share and I am proud to be working toward them with members of this great partnership.

With the hard work of everyone who has a stake in keeping the Great Lakes great, I am confident that we can meet our goals and leave our children and grandchildren a cleaner and healthier planet than we found. Thank you.