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National Governors Association Task Force on Growth and Quality of Life, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
at the
National Governors Association
Task Force on Growth and Quality of Life
Washington, D.C.

February 26, 2001

It’s good to be here with Secretary Mineta and Secretary Martinez.
Transportation and housing issues are so important to any discussion about smart growth. I look forward to working with them to build a truly integrated approach to providing incentives to smart growth in America. Perhaps more than anyone else, governors see that the way in which communities grow determines the quality of life in those communities.

As I found in my seven years as New Jersey’s governor, as you travel around your state, you see the differences that planning for growth – and managing it wisely – can make.

That is why we have seen the states take the lead in efforts to promote smart growth. Let me give you a few examples.

In Maryland, Governor Glendening has earned national recognition for his administration’s efforts to develop a comprehensive growth strategy that includes a large range of policy options. That reflects the perspective that governors certainly learn very early on – that one size doesn’t fit all.

In Michigan Governor Engler has led his state to a first place ranking in a recent study of brownfield redevelopment programs.

Michigan has set the pace in areas such as liability protection for those seeking to redevelop a brownfield and in establishing land use-based criteria for cleanup standards.

Governor Kitzhaber is also no stranger to smart growth policies. Oregon, like Michigan, has a strong record of groundbreaking innovations in brownfield policy.

In addition, last May, he signed an executive order setting Oregon firmly on the path to environmental sustainability over the next 25 years.

I also want to note the success states like South Carolina, Florida, and Oklahoma have had in introducing “Pay for Performance” to their environmental cleanups.

This concept – which had its genesis in the EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks – pays contractors as they reach various measurable environmental goals, instead of on the time and materials basis still in use in much of the country.

By rewarding good and timely cleanup efforts, Pay for Performance has helped reduce the cost of cleanups while improving their quality.

And, if I may, I’d also like to mention that New Jersey has a pretty good record in this area as well. Policies like our housing rehabilitation sub code and our million acres of open space preservation effort all flow from a commitment to smart growth.

Of course, it’s not surprising to any of us here that so many of the best smart growth practices have been discovered first in the states.

But Washington is starting to catch up – and that’s no accident.

President Bush’s service as governor of America’s second largest state certainly made him aware that so many good ideas come of the states. His support for brownfield legislation reflects that.

The Bush Administration sees the continued presence of brownfields – especially in areas already developed – as a real barrier to fully implementing the benefits of smart growth planning.

We need to do more at the federal level to encourage the reclamation of brownfields, so that these lands can be returned to productive economic use.

The President knows that it makes a lot more sense to locate new development in places where the infrastructure already exists to support it.

By making brownfields viable places for development, we can avoid what happens when development occurs in currently undeveloped places. And we can help revitalize areas that need a new burst of economic activity.

So while the states have been in the lead in brownfields redevelopment, Washington is ready to get on board.

President Bush’s brownfield proposals would do much to ease the burdens the federal government has imposed on your states in this area.

He wants the EPA to work with the states to ensure that they use high, yet flexible cleanup standards, while giving the EPA the ability to step in to enforce those standards when necessary.

He believes we need to relieve redevelopers from federal liability when they clean up a brownfield under a state program that meets high federal standards.

He believes we need to streamline and expedite the brownfields grant program, so that you and your communities can have the flexibility you need to meet the unique situations you face.

The President also wants the federal government to focus additional research and development efforts on new cleanup technologies and techniques.

These policies make clear that the President – and his EPA administrator – know the challenges America’s governors face.

He knows you need a helping hand from Washington – not the heavy hand of Washington.

Of course, this is not all that the EPA is doing to promote smart growth.

To name just one, I’m especially proud of EPA’s partnership with the NGA to create a smart growth tool box.

I believe, however, that one of the most important things we can accomplish to promote smart growth is to enact brownfields legislation this year.

I hope you will work with your Congressional delegations to urge them to move such legislation forward.

The Bush Administration stands ready to be a true partner with you to promote smart growth across America. Thank you.