Speeches - By Date
before the Committee on Finance01/28/1999
|Oral Statement of Carol M. Browner, Administrator|
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the Committee on Finance
January 28, 1999
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and other members of the Committee, for this opportunity to
testify on an important aspect of EPA's work -- our international environmental programs, and
the role we play in the interface between trade and the environment.
I know there are many opinions about the need for incorporating environmental
protections in upcoming trade agreements. But let me say that it is the Clinton Administration's
great hope that we work together for a common approach and develop a new consensus on this
Since this nation passed our major environmental laws more than 25 years ago, we've
made great progress. Our water is cleaner, our air healthier, our land safer.
But the job is not done. Millions of Americans still live in areas that do not meet EPA's
standards for a healthy environment. A host of new global challenges threaten the strides we've
made. I'm talking about the pollution that is leading to climate change, air and water pollution
that crosses our borders, dangerous pesticides on imported food, and the transport of harmful
persistent chemicals such as DDT and chlordane, which are banned here, but used abroad.
Let's face it, we live in an increasingly global economy, and that presents enormous
opportunities, as well as enormous challenges, enormous problems. Continuing our great progress
on protecting the health and environment of Americans hinges on two strategies: strong U.S.
international environmental programs and open trade that protects our air, water, and land.
At EPA, our international programs are fostering greater cooperation, more technical
assistance, more trade in environmental technologies to help other countries build the capacity to
achieve strong environmental protections. And we are helping them achieve these protections
using good science and in the most cost-effective, common-sense manner.
But we must also -- as the President said in his State of the Union -- put a "human face on
the global economy" and work for trade that protects workers and the environment.
This administration has proven time and time again that the environment and the economy
go hand in hand. Today, we have some of the strongest environmental protections in the world,
and also one of the strongest economies. Indeed, in the long run, we cannot have a prosperous
economy without a healthy environment, and vice versa.
If we keep a few principles in mind, we can have robust trade and tough environmental
and public health protections.
For one, EPA must continue its work to promote the export of environmental
technologies -- as we have been doing through our training and technical assistance programs, and
our support of the upward international harmonization of environmental standards.
The Department of Commerce has estimated that the world market in environmental
technology is worth $400 billion, and expected to reach $600 billion in the next ten years.
Continuing to carve out an American niche in this market is absolutely essential to our national
We must also ensure that when American tax dollars are invested abroad -- through
projects supported by the Export-Import Bank and the multilateral development banks -- we must
invest in environmentally sound, environmentally sustainable projects. That way markets for U.S.
goods will be there not just today, but also tomorrow.
We must ensure that existing and future trade agreements and investments are negotiated
and administered in the full light of day, with full and meaningful public participation.
These agreements and investments must permit sovereign nations to set tough
environmental and public health standards -- and that nations work together to harmonize these
standards upward. And to protect the health of all American citizens, we must retain our right to
deny entry of products that don't meet our national environmental and health standards. Only then
can we continue our environmental progress in this nation -- and protect the competitiveness of
U.S. companies from lax or non-existent environmental controls in other countries.
As the President said, we must ensure that "...spirited economic competition among
nations never becomes a race to the bottom in environmental protections... we should level up,
This coming November, we will be holding the first WTO ministerial meeting on American
soil. The Clinton Administration will be calling for a trading system that is even more protective
of health, the environment, and American competitiveness.
So let us work together for a common goal -- a continuation of the great progress we
have made in protecting our nation's air, water, land -- our health and our economy -- today and
far into the 21st Century. Thank you.