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Performance Track Launch

Remarks Delivered by
Administrator Carol M. Browner
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Performance Track Launch
Washington, DC
June 26, 2000

Good morning. I am delighted to welcome you here today to share in an historic moment for both environmental protection and economic progress. It is my pleasure to be joined by so many business, state and local, and environmental leaders to launch EPA’s Performance Track Program – the culmination of our work on innovation these last seven and a half years.

Standing here with me today are representatives of companies that offer dramatic evidence of the power of public-private partnerships – Jim O’Brien of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, Glen Bassett of the Baker Petrolite Corporation, and Bill Sugar of Anheuser-Busch.

We are also joined by state environmental leaders who have led the way in the development of performance-based voluntary programs. In many ways, many of the
states represented today helped provide the blueprint for EPA’s new program. State representatives here today include George Meyer, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Robert Shinn, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Langdon March, Executive Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

I also want to thank Fred Krupp, from Environmental Defense, who joins us today in promoting environmental results and innovation.

Together, we have all shown that political, business and community leaders can work as responsible stewards, embracing shared ideals, ready to do the right thing for America’s children and America’s future.

Today is, I believe, an important time to recall that it wasn’t too long ago that many tried to tell us that Americans had to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy ... that we could have one or the other, but not both. Seven and a half years later we have finally put that argument to rest.

Under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, we have demonstrated that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand-in-hand.

Today, our Nation enjoys the cleanest environment in a generation, while we enjoy the longest period of economic expansion in history. We owe a debt of gratitude to many in this room who have helped move our country in the right direction by embracing stronger environmental protections through innovation, flexibility and partnerships.

Today, we are taking a step that will set the standard for future public-private collaboration. A step that builds on our progress, while stretching the boundaries of innovation and performance.

To guide our work, we looked back at our reinvention efforts over the last seven and a half years.

Then, we wove together the most successful strategies with the lessons learned from programs like the Common Sense Initiative, Project XL, and the Environmental Leadership Protection Program and built on them.

These programs have shown us how we can simplify, cut red tape, and streamline and still do a better job protecting public health and the environment.

Already, we’ve seen the tangible results of many of these programs. Today, more than 7,000 companies and organizations participate voluntarily in these and other EPA programs that reduce energy and clean water consumption, slash waste and pollution, and save money.

In 1998 alone, the voluntary partnership programs conserved 1.8 billion gallons of clean water, eliminated 7.8 million tons of solid waste, prevented air pollution equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road, and saved participating companies $3.3 billion dollars. And, we’re just getting started.

Today, EPA is launching a new program called Performance Track -- a program that is a culmination of our successful efforts to meet our new environmental challenges while continuing to strengthen our economy.

This program will bring cleaner, cheaper and smarter results -- and it is a tribute to the partnerships between many of the companies in this room today as well as the many federal, state and local leaders, and community and environmental groups whose work is so important to achieving our mission.

We have key industry leaders here today who have already indicated their strong support for the Performance Track initiative. They include: Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Merck, Southwire, National Association of Chemical Distributors, DOW Chemical, and S.C. Johnson.

The idea behind Performance Track is very simple. EPA will encourage businesses to do more than the law requires to protect public health and the environment.

Performance Track will provide a comprehensive framework for applying new, more productive ideas across the economic landscape. We want businesses to push the envelope, go the extra mile, exceed requirements, and seek maximum opportunity rather than minimum acceptability.

For businesses that meet this challenge, there will be rewards: their costs will be lower, their administrative operations will be streamlined, and their extraordinary environmental accomplishments will gain the public recognition they deserve. For communities, this means a healthier, cleaner environment.

While Performance Track builds on the past, it also breaks with the past; the past in which environmental regulations defined the ceiling of environmental and public health protection in this country.

Beginning today, regulations will define the floor of environmental and public health protection.

We’re setting a high hurdle for facilities that want to be part of the Performance Track Program. We want to leave no doubt about their leadership, their stewardship. We want to leave no doubt about continued progress.

This program will not be for everyone. Performance Track is targeted at the pace-setters, the environmental leaders in the corporate world. At the same time, I have every expectation that this program will help expand the ranks of leadership far beyond what they are today.

I expect Performance Track to reward and encourage exceptional corporate stewardship, making corporate stewardship more commonplace.

All American businesses should take their responsibilities to the environment as seriously as they take their responsibilities to their shareholders.

All American businesses should place as high a priority on steadily improving environmental performance as they do on steadily increasing market share and steadily rising profits.

We may never see the day when all businesses achieve such a high level of environmental commitment, but Performance Track will take us a lot closer.

And that’s good news for the cause of a healthier environment, good news for businesses that embrace responsibility, and good news for all Americans who care about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities in which we live.

Thank you.