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MOU Signing Ceremony with the Environment Alliance for Senior Involvement, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
MOU Signing Ceremony with the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 11, 2002

Thank you Bill (Benson) for that introduction. It = s an honor to be here today to renew an important partnership between EPA and the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI).

America has over 35 million citizens over the age of 65 and that number will double over the next 50 years. Indeed, it can be said that our nation = s senior population is one of our most precious natural resources.

In 1991, EPA joined with the American Association of Retired Persons to form EASI, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the role senior volunteers play in protecting and improving our environment. Since that time, EASI has grown to be the world = s largest senior environmental action network, with more that 20,000 senior volunteers and over 100,000 volunteers of all ages annually.

But the real measure of their success is the multitude of programs and projects they have conducted around the country B from radon testing to environmental health education to water monitoring B making communities cleaner and healthier.

Pennsylvania has been a leader in utilizing the valued service of senior volunteers. In 1997, EASI began its first statewide Senior Environment Corps right here in this state.

I = m glad to see many members of Pennsylvania = s Senior Environment Corps here today.

With the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act later this month, I want to especially commend your work, through water quality monitoring, to keep our streams, rivers, and lakes clean and pure.

Yet, for all the good work EASI is doing in Pennsylvania and around our country, this is really only the beginning. There are many new programs EASI has on the horizon to benefit our environment, and I= d like to take a moment to highlight one of them.

EASI is developing a new project known as the Senior Mentors to Children = s Environmental Health, that will promote children = s environmental health in local communities.

EASI will train senior volunteers to educate their communities about children = s environmental health hazards, such as asthma triggers, lead poisoning, contaminated water, and sun exposure.

This new project is in line with one of EPA = s top priorities B protecting the health of children. In fact, the entire month of October is Children= s Health Month B an opportunity to raise awareness about the specific environmental challenges children face.

EPA has supported this new EASI initiative with a $95,000 environmental health grant. With this funding, training materials are being developed and two pilot programs are being established B one of which will be here in Philadelphia.

Through this program, the expertise and commitment of one generation will be used to provide a brighter future for generations to come, including the children who are here today.

It also builds upon our work at the EPA to formulate an aging initiative that encourages volunteerism among seniors and addresses the specific environmental health threats they encounter.

The health of our environment affects every generation and we need the help of every generation to achieve our environmental goals of cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land.

The President and I believe that partnerships such as the one between EPA and EASI are crucial to promoting lasting change and environmental success. Working together B using all the tools available to us B can really make a difference for the environment B and, more important, for our children.

As EPA and EASI renew our commitment to provide meaningful environmental protection opportunities for senior volunteers, we look back on the successful work of the past decade and we look forward to a future of continued cooperation and environmental health.

Thank you. And, now, I = d like to ask the President of EASI, Tom Benjamin, to join me in signing the MOU.