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Visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland

May 8, 2003

Thank you, Sean (O= Keefe), and thank you, ladies and gentlemen of NASA. I am delighted to be with you today.

I want to begin by expressing to each of you here the continuing good wishes of the men and women of the Environmental Protection Agency. On February 1st, our Nation suffered a horrible loss, but nowhere was that loss felt more keenly than in the NASA family. It was an honor for EPA to work alongside you in recovering debris from the shuttle Columbia. It is a mission we wish had never been needed, but one to which we were proud to contribute.

In many ways, the work you do and the work we do at the EPA share a common thread. We both seek to better understand the Earth so we can better care for it. It was the people of NASA who gave us, in the poet's words, the first glimpse, A of the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats@ which helped us A see ourselves as riders on the earth together. @

It is more than just a coincidence that the birth of the modern environmental movement came on the heels of our first manned voyages into space. The images beamed back to Earth from Gemini and Apollo spacecraft truly did change the way we looked at our planet. The environmental ethos which has taken hold owes much to the pioneering work of NASA, that truly did let us see just how connected we are to each other and to our planet.

Today, we come together to mark another NASA success story B this one, much more down to earth. Earlier this year, NASA became the first federal agency in the country to use landfill gas to offset the need for fossil fuels on-site.

Of course, it doesn= t get much more down to earth than making energy out of a gas that = s produced by rotting garbage in a dump. But this seemingly humble process pays big dividends. It= s an important source of renewable energy and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

By using methane that comes from the Sandy Hill landfill five miles from here to help meet your energy needs, NASA is yet again on the cutting edge of technological and environmental progress. You are helping set an example that I hope others will follow.

I am pleased that through EPA = s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, we = ve been able to help you get this project off the ground. It is a project that will save taxpayer dollars while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons over ten years. That = s the equivalent of taking more than 35,000 cars off the road every year for the next decade.

Last week, I helped kick-off a similar project at the BMW plant in South Carolina B where, by the way, I did not talk about taking cars off the road. After the program, they let me take a drive on their test track. I was disappointed when I learned I couldn = t do something similar here. BMW thinks it has the A Ultimate Driving Machine. @ They ought to see what you have.

But you and BMW do have something in common B not just with each other, but with all our partners in our Landfill Methane Outreach Program. That=s a real commitment to the health of our environment.

Today you join more than 200 landfill gas-to-energy projects across the United States that we've helped inaugurate. Taken together, the greenhouse gas reductions these projects have achieved bring about the same benefit as planting 14 million acres of trees B without having to worry about who = s going to rake the leaves.

So congratulations on the launch of this renewable energy, greenhouse gas reducing, landfill methane project. We are proud to be your partner and hope to have similar opportunities to work together in the future.

Thank you.

Now, I would like to present posters to our partners in this effort, Toro Energy Inc., Waste Management, and Prince Georges County, and a poster and a plaque to the Goddard Space Flight Center.