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National Town Meeting Launch

Carol M. Browner, Administrator Environmental Protection Agency Remarks Prepared for Delivery National Town Meeting Launch
                       Washington, D.C.
                         March 17, 1999

     Good morning. It's great to be here today to announce the first ever National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America to be held this May in Detroit.

     Similar press conferences will be held today in Detroit and New York and I want to thank Michigan Governor John Engler, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and everyone else who helped pull this together.

     What is this National Town Meeting? Simply put, we are bringing together over 2,000 leaders from different walks of life to talk about what we can do to make our quality of life even better in the new century, now just 289 days away. It will be a diverse group. We're bringing together leaders from small and large businesses; community groups, concerned citizens; and government officials from mayors to members of Congress.

     What makes this exciting is that we won't just be kicking this off with a blank sheet of paper, hoping that together we can write a hit. No, if this was a play you would say we have taken it on the road and perfected it over the past several years. And now it's ready for Broadway.

     The National Town Meeting, cosponsored by the President's Council on Sustainable Environment and the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, will showcase success stories from across the country. While we'll be looking for new ideas, we want participants to know they will hear what different communities from around the nation have done to put the brakes on traffic gridlock, control the sprawl that swallows up our green space and create parks and other common areas that foster a sense of community. Working together we want to create a 21st Century America with a natural environment and business environment that is healthy and prosperous for our families.

     We know this approach works. At the Environmental Protection Agency we have been stressing local partnerships with business, communities and concerned groups for the past several years.

     In fact, we have created more than 5,000 partnerships and have worked together in ways both sweeping and small to make communities more livable.

     For instance, in Detroit, working together with DaimlerChrysler, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan, we were able to clean up one old factory site and return it to use as a state-of-the-art engine manufacturing plant. Now, instead of sitting idle, the land is productive, helping Detroit keep jobs beef up its tax base.

     Working with businesses both large and small, as well as colleges, universities and local governments, we've found ways to better use energy, saving both businesses and consumers more than $1 billion, while also preventing the release of nearly 60 million tons of pollutants.

     Also, according to a report released today, thanks to our reinvention efforts at EPA we have been able to streamline the agency. This has saved business and consumers $2.6 billion a year while still ensuring the highest environmental protection for the public.

     We want everyone to see that the goals of a healthy environment and a growing economy are ideas in concert, not conflict.

     So I urge everyone who is concerned about their community's quality of life to attend the National Town meeting. It's going to be the event of the season.

     If you want to make sure that your children and grandchildren have parks to play in, not just lots to park in, you'll want to be there. If you want to make sure that stands of trees are as common as strands of asphalt, this is the event you have been waiting for. And if you think we should be able to spend more time sitting around our kitchen tables, rather than strapped into our vehicles, your concerns will be center stage.

     I've traveled this country and watched this show being put together from the bottom up. And I assure you it's ready for the big time and it's going to be a hit -- now and in the century to come -- because we are writing it together.

     Thank you.

     And now I'd like to introduce Ray Anderson, chief executive officer of Interface and co-host of the National Town Meeting.