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Remarks Prepared for Delivery RTP Cornerstone Dedication

Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency

Remarks Prepared for Delivery
RTP Cornerstone Dedication
Raleigh, North Carolina
September 11, 2000

Thank you Congressman Price for that introduction. And thank you for all the work you have done on the House Appropriations Committee over the years to make sure this project got the financial support it needed.

Without your tireless efforts, I’m not sure we would be here today.

I also want to thank Congressman Etheridge for coming today. Your work on the House Science Committee has helped create and maintain vital centers of innovation like Research Triangle Park.

I know this must also be an important day for our other speakers, Bill Laxton, EPA’s Director of Administration here at Research Triangle, and Bill Calhoun, president of Clark Construction, which oversaw the work here.

I would also like to thank EPA Assistant Administrators Romy Diaz, Bob Perciascepe, Norine Noonan and everyone else here today -- the business and government leaders -- who worked so hard over the years to make this project a reality.

I am proud that EPA is a partner with all of you here in North Carolina. There were times when this project was in doubt. But you hung in there and made it happen. And now 2,000 people will soon go to work doing cutting-research in these modern facilities – cementing this area’s reputation as a high-tech hotbed.

This project has been a priority of this Administration since day one. The President and Vice President believe that sound, quality science provides the solid foundation for protecting the environment and public health.

Threats to our health cannot be mastered if they remain mysteries. And unraveling those mysteries calls for the kind of high-tech laboratories and facilities that will soon be operating here.

You’ve already heard a lot about the building itself. How it conserves energy and water -- saving $1 million a year. How the landscaping is designed to reduce polluted runoff. How, even during construction, the environment was protected by recycling 80 percent of the waste -- keeping some 20 million pounds of construction debris out of the landfills.

And we’ve done all this and still built this campus at roughly the same price as similar facilities that do not incorporate these kinds of cutting-edge environmental protections.

This building is now recognized internationally as a model for sustainable architecture, construction and landscaping.

It’s fitting that – in a campus dedicated to environmental research – the buildings and grounds themselves serve as educational tools to advance the cause of sustainable design and construction techniques.

And – as we dedicate these buildings – I think it’s important to talk about the dedication of the people who will work inside them.

It’s more than fitting that the time capsule placed in this cornerstone contains the names and pictures of the current staff. The researchers and scientists who will work here are the backbone of the agency’s work. We cannot make the right decisions for public health without sound science. For instance, this scientific research is critical to the Clean Air Act – that landmark piece of legislation that turns 30 this year.

Remember what it was like 30 years ago? Cities and towns were often hidden under shrouds of dirty air. And sunsets through smoggy skies took on an eerie glow.

We’ve made much progress since then. And much of the credit goes to the work EPA employees have done right here in Research Triangle by identifying threats to public health and helping us learn how to address them.

The accomplishments are many.

Thanks to your quality science, we are moving to control the ozone that drifts far from its source and pollutes the air and damages the health of families far downwind. We will make coal-fired power plants comply with their obligations under the Clean Air Act to install pollution control technologies when they upgrade their facilities.

And you are part of an agency that – for the first time ever – will dramatically reduce emissions for just about everything on wheels – from cars and SUVs to diesels trucks and buses – and also provide those vehicles with cleaner burning fuels.
But the challenges will continue. Protecting the environment is a duty we hold in perpetuity. Your work has laid a foundation. But finality is an illusion – like parallel lines meeting at the horizon.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look to the horizon and beyond, because that’s where those new challenges lie. As our reach should exceed our grasp, so must our vision extend beyond our view.

On this campus you will continue your research into those still hidden threats to public health and the technologies that can control them. And in doing this you will leave a legacy of clear skies and healthy air for generations to come.

And that is a monument that will last longer than any building.

I am grateful to have been a part of all this during my seven and a half years as EPA Administrator. And I’m proud to be able to join with you all today.

Thank you very much and I hope your move goes smoothly next summer.