Speeches - By Date
West Virginia Business Summit Greenbrier Resort, West Virginia08/30/2001
Remarks for Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
West Virginia Business Summit
Greenbrier Resort, West Virginia
August 30, 2001
Thank you for that introduction. Who would have ever thought that the EPA Administrator could get that kind of welcome in West Virginia? I appreciate it, and I appreciate the invitation to be with you today.
President Bush and I realize that the relationship between the EPA and many states has been strained in the past. We feel that the time has come for the federal government to move away from a command and control style in favor of a more cooperative approach. You all have a Congresswoman who agrees with us and I just want to take a quick moment to thank Congresswoman (Shelley Moore) Capito for all of her hard work.
More and more people in Washington are beginning to understand that we are facing a new generation of environmental challenges and we need to confront them not only with new generation technology and solutions – but with a new generation attitude as well. Partnerships will be the crucial element of this approach.
Since becoming Administrator of the EPA, I have traveled to 23 states – now 24 and counting – to listen to what is happening there and discuss ways to work together to find solutions. This is my first time visiting West Virginia on behalf of the EPA and my message is the same. I hope to listen to your concerns and then begin to build a new relationship based upon the commonality of our goals.
One of the things I have heard repeatedly across the country is the concern that environmental protection will come at the expense of economic growth. In fact, nothing seems to be further from the truth. By virtually every measure, our environment is cleaner now than it was when the EPA was founded more than thirty years ago. During this same period, our economy has grown by 126 percent. Technology and innovation have allowed for unprecedented advances that show that environmental protection and economic development can go hand in hand.
Never has this been more clear than in the implementation of the President’s National Energy Plan. For instance, businesses and consumers in West Virginia have saved $140 million thanks to investments made in the Energy Star program. At the same time, Energy Star, which provides energy efficiency information about a range of products and buildings, has eliminated harmful emissions equivalent to removing 10 million cars from America’s roads nationwide.
Perhaps the most important example – both to the nation and to West Virginia – will be the widespread use of clean coal technology. West Virginia plays an enormous role supplying America’s power, with coal accounting for more than 50 percent of our country’s electricity generation. As demand for energy continues to grow, I know that we will rely on the coal production in your state – and others – to maintain the quality of life we have grown accustomed to.
Yours is a great responsibility, not only to keep America’s lights on and computers operating, but to help protect the environment as well. I am proud that the industry has voluntarily embraced efforts to minimize its impact on our environment.
As you know, several companies are working to develop emission control technology for coal-fired generators, technology that would achieve greater cost-efficiency by reducing multiple air pollutants at the same time. A plant in New Hampshire recently tested such technology that cut NOx emissions by 76 percent, SO2 by 44 percent, mercury by 81 percent, and particulate matter by 99.94 percent. Other approaches being developed through the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Technology Program would yield similar emissions reductions and operate as much as 60 percent more efficiently – thus conserving energy and saving money.
The availability of this technology – and its benefit for the environment – is only half of the equation. We must combine these results with regulatory certainty and a market-based approach to implementation. I am pleased that in several weeks, the Administration is going to put forth such an approach. This proposal will seek to establish mandatory reductions by power plants of NOx, SO2, and mercury, while also providing the flexibility needed to achieve these reductions in ways that make both environmental and economic sense.
Representing the most ambitious effort to improve the Clean Air Act in a generation, this proposal would give businesses the certainty they need to invest in technology for cleaner air and the flexibility they need to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. I should also mention that we believe our proposal will, on its own, result in substantial progress toward air quality standards attainment in most of the United States.
The President’s proposal is modeled on the very successful Acid Rain program which has, over the past decade, achieved more air pollution reductions, more cost-effectively, than all other air programs combined. The wide acceptance of this program – industry compliance is at 100 percent – and the efficiency with which it is run – it takes fewer than 20 EPA employees to run it – makes it a model worth following.
I will be working with the President and Congress to pass this important legislation, and I hope that we can count on your support as we move forward.
This Administration’s partnership approach is not reserved for the power industry alone. We all have a sacred responsibility to protect the environment, and we understand that businesses are our allies in this effort – not an enemy. You have proven time and again that when we put the power of the market to work, the result is always a payday for the environment. I know that we can continue this record of achievement by working together to find solutions that are right for the environment and right for West Virginia businesses.
If we do this, I am confident that we will leave our children and grandchildren a clean and healthy West Virginia.