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The National Association of Manufacturers' Issues Briefing Breakfast, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
National Association of Manufacturers’
Issues Briefing Breakfast
Washington, D.C.

June 12, 2001

Thank you, Mike (Baroodi), for that introduction. It’s good to be with you this morning.

I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today. America’s manufacturing companies are the backbone of America’s prosperity. Although some people think that the information and service economies are supplanting the role of manufacturing in America, I believe that no great country will thrive for long if it doesn’t also have a robust manufacturing sector.

America’s manufacturers have been the engine driving economic growth in our Nation for more than a century and a half. Even today, you are showing the way to an ever more prosperous future. Your increases in productivity lead the economy, as does your rate of growth. Through the use of technology and innovative new practices and processes, you have shown that the ingenuity and inventiveness of American business leaders continues to set the pace for the rest of the world.

It’s that record of achievement that I believe will help our country meet two of the most important challenges we face at the start of the 21st century – achieving the next generation of environmental protection and meeting our energy needs.

For more than 30 years, the EPA has been at the forefront of the progress America has made in improving the condition of our natural environment and protecting the public health against the threats posed by environmental hazards. Thanks to the environmental progress of the past three decades, America’s air is cleaner, its water purer, and its land better protected than they were in 1970.

In a very real sense, we have largely addressed the so-called “easy” environmental problems. No longer are we confronted with thousands of smokestacks belching tons of toxins into the air in every city and town across America. No longer do we find huge pipes dumping thousands of gallons of raw, untreated waste into our waterways. No longer do we see our land serving as a depository for all sorts of garbage from all kinds of uses.

Your members have helped make such practices that were once commonplace in America, a rarity. It’s been a long time since a river spontaneously combusted in America. We now know how important protecting our environment is to protecting our way of life for our children and grandchildren. But we also know that more remains to be done. We are not ready to declare environmental victory and call it a day.

The challenges we face today, however, are more subtle than those we faced 30 years ago. For example, the threat to our water no longer comes from one big pipe pumping out thousands of gallons of waste every day into a local river. Instead, it comes from the accumulation of more numerous, much smaller practices – such as oil runoff from parking lots and fertilizer runoff from our lawns. Threats like these will not be solved through massive efforts at regulation and enforcement. They require a new approach.

I believe America’s manufacturers will be part of that new approach. You will be devising the products and practices that America needs to help meet these new environmental challenges. At the EPA, I will be working with you to build the partnerships I believe are necessary to make the best use of what each of us has to contribute.

Of course, there’s already one excellent example of how my agency and your members have worked together. That’s Energy Star. Through this program, you’ve put your innovative spirit to work decreasing the environmental impact of hundreds of consumer products by increasing their energy efficiency.

More than 1,600 manufacturers all across America are partners with EPA in our Energy Star program. This program has generated more than $11 billion in investments in energy efficient technologies since 1992. These days it seems there are almost as many products carrying the Energy Star logo as there are stars in the sky.

Last year alone, Energy Star products and practices saved enough energy to power 2 million homes at peak time. Those savings not only help preserve our environment, by reducing the need for power generation, they also contribute to smarter use of electricity and improve our quality of living. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions because of Energy Star savings in the year 2000 was the equivalent of eliminating emissions from 10 million cars.

To date, more than 600 million Energy Star products have been purchased in America, from the computer on which my remarks were prepared to the refrigerator in which I keep my lunch. As the President made clear in his National Energy Plan, we want to build on this success by working with you to increase the reach of our Energy Star program

Of course, Energy Star is just one part of President Bush’s National Energy Plan for the United States. His Plan, which is vital to continuing America’s prosperity and maintaining our way of life, takes a long-range, comprehensive approach to addressing our energy needs. I am pleased to report that it does so while maintaining our commitment to environmental protection.

I said at my confirmation hearing that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand-in-hand. The same is true when it concerns energy production. We have the ability to meet our future energy needs without harming our environment. In fact, if we fail to take the actions the President has called for, the environment will suffer.

For example, when utilities have to generate extra capacity, they are forced to use older generating facilities that haven’t been updated with the latest pollution control equipment. When hydroelectric facilities are forced to draw down water levels in their reservoirs because of drought conditions, as is happening now in the Northwest, it endangers fish populations.

So a comprehensive energy policy is not just necessary to secure America’s energy future, it’s also vitally important if we are to protect the environmental gains we have made and build on them in the years ahead.

The Plan the President has proposed meets these two goals. It reflects the President’s determination to meet our looming energy crisis in ways that protect the environment while promoting economic prosperity.

The first element of his plan calls for increased energy efficiency efforts. It’s a simple truth: every kilowatt we can conserve is a kilowatt that doesn’t have to be produced. That’s why I am pleased that nearly half of the recommendations contained in the report are related to promoting conservation and renewable energy.

The President believes we must continue to use technology to find ever-more efficient ways of using energy. His plan provides incentives and rewards for the continued development of new methods to conserve and increase efficiency.

Since 1970, the United States has realized remarkable improvements in energy efficiency through technology. Taken together, thirty years of energy technology progress have resulted in enough annual savings to meet the energy needs of every American home and commercial building for a full year. That’s a lot of energy saved – and it’s a strong foundation on which to build.

In addition, the President’s plan promotes alternative and renewable energy sources. Two weeks ago, I visited a site in Atlanta where methane gas is being captured from a closed municipal landfill and is being used to power a nearby concrete plant. The President’s plan includes tax credits for such innovative efforts, as well as tax incentives for homeowners who install solar energy in their homes, and the promotion of greater use of such sources as wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower resources.

Everything from cleaner burning coal to solar and wind power will have to be a part of our energy supply mix in the 21st century. And we are not going to increase supply at the expense of our environment. That’s why, for example, the President’s Energy Plan also includes a proposal to reduce smog and acid rain by establishing mandatory reductions in the emissions of sulfur, nitrogen oxide, and mercury.

We have the ability to develop new supplies in ways that protect our environment and promote our economy. After all, even though since 1973 America’s economy has grown by 126 percent and our energy use has grown by 26 percent, our environment has still gotten significantly cleaner. Anyone who says new supplies equal environmental disaster ignore both the record of the past three decades and the benefits offered by technology. Technology is not the enemy of the environment, it is its ally.

Taken together, all of these measures will enable the United States to meet its energy needs while increasing our energy security. We will be less dependent on foreign sources and more secure in our economic position. In addition, the President’s plan supports the export of American energy technology, so that the other nations of the world can benefit from the work we are doing to increase efficiency, develop alternatives, and accelerate environmental protection.

All of this will be accomplished without compromising America’s commitment to our environment. We will promote conservation, protect our environment, produce more energy, and assure continued prosperity. My Agency will be a major contributor both to solving America=s energy crisis and to accelerating the protection of our environment through the use of technology, market-based incentives, and the building of partnerships across traditional boundaries.

We look forward to the challenge and look forward to building on the partnerships we’ve already forged to meet these important goals for America.

Thank you.