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Small Business Event, Warrenton, Missouri

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Small Business Event
Warrenton, Missouri

March 17, 2003

Thank you Jim (Gulliford) for that introduction. It = s great to be here today in Warrenton at the Microfinish company as we celebrate Small Business Month at EPA and highlight our efforts to assist our nation= s small businesses. There are over 22 million small businesses in the United States, and these companies are not only a significant source of employment for millions of Americans, but are also crucial to our country = s economic strength.

America = s small businesses are also an important partner in our efforts at EPA to safeguard human health and protect our environment. Unfortunately, small businesses spend about double the cost per employee as compared to larger firms to comply with federal regulations.

At EPA, we are firmly committed to changing that reality. Indeed, for many years EPA has worked closely with small businesses to help lift the regulatory burden. For over twenty years, EPA has had a small business division dedicated to assisting small businesses with their environmental concerns and compliance efforts. Currently, we have over 100 initiatives aimed at helping small businesses.

However, there is still more that we can do and with that in mind we recently revised our Small Business Strategy in order to serve the small business community more effectively. Throughout that process, we held meetings with small business owners and trade associations seeking advice and suggestions on how we could improve our services and make EPA work for small businesses. And, we have taken that valuable input and used it as a foundation for our revised strategy. Our Small Business Strategy will streamline and coordinate all EPA small business activities and will design and implement programs to help small businesses improve their environmental performance.

Meeting environmental regulations is an important responsibility for small businesses, and we want to ensure that every small business has the resources and information to meet those regulations in the most cost-efficient manner. From small business focused compliance tools such as factsheets and checklists to rewards programs that recognize proven environmental leaders, our new strategy will hopefully make small business owners jobs a little easier.

Owning and operating a small business is hard work, and President Bush and I firmly believe that the federal government should be a help and partner to their success B not a hindrance. That is why, this Administration is also working to reduce the effort states must make to meet clean air standards. The President has proposed the Clear Skies Act, which will impose mandatory reductions of 70% on three of the most dangerous air pollutants emitted by power plants.

Currently, there are hundreds of counties that are in violation of fine particle and ozone standards. Without Clear Skies the responsibility of bringing those counties into attainment falls on the states, and many states will be forced to look at heavier regulation on small businesses as a means to meeting those standards.

Clear Skies would ensure that our air is cleaner in many of these areas without states and small businesses paying for it. Here in Missouri, specifically in the St. Louis area, there are some air quality concerns. And with many of the counties east of Warrenton not meeting the fine particle and ozone standards, Clear Skies is important for your state. This region has made strides toward improving smog and fine particle problems, but Clear Skies will help you go even further. This important legislation will be a valuable tool to assist this area in meeting air quality standards, without sacrificing economic growth.

As you can see, policies such as Clear Skies reflect this Administration = s commitment to a healthy environment and a healthy small business economy. Today, I = ve had the opportunity to visit and tour the Microfinish Company facility here in Warrenton B a company that places a high value on environmental stewardship. Through your work to reduce water use and decrease wastewater and sludge generation, you have shown that environmental protection and economic prosperity can indeed go hand in hand. Microfinish is truly one of our country = s brightest small business success stories.

And, by improving our small business efforts at EPA, we hope to ensure that there are many more similar success stories in the years to come. Thank you.