Environmental Protection is Good for Economic Growth

Male Speaker:
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who in December declared greenhouse gas emissions a threat
to the public welfare, is being criticized by senators and congressmen from both parties
and is being sued by at least three states. She’s at the center of the debate between
those who think the government should require businesses to cut global warming emissions
and those who say that such a move would harm an already fragile economy. Senator Jay Rockefeller
and several fellow Democrats are asking her to wait two years before regulating carbon
emissions they say will harm their coal-producing states. Republican senators, led by Lisa Murkowski
of Alaska, want to go even further and stop her from ever regulating such emissions. The
governors of Texas, Virginia, and Alabama, meanwhile have all sued her, claiming her
plans will kill jobs. In response, Ms. Jackson has agreed to delay
regulating carbon emissions until the end of the year. Still, she plans to go ahead
and issue rules for greenhouse gas emissions by next month, as Congress has failed to create
a cap-and-trade program to cut global warming emissions. Global warming isn’t her only issue of course,
in her first year at the EPA Ms. Jackson’s agency set the first new national smog rules
in 35 years and is now reviewing the rules governing chemical use in consumer products
for the first time in three decades. She’s set to finalize next month new miles per gallon
rules on cars, and she finalized rules to cut cargo ship pollution by 80 percent. Jackson,
is the first African-American to serve as the EPA Administrator. Before leading the
EPA, she was Chief of Staff to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Commissioner of that
state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Please welcome to the National Press Club
EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson. [applause] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Alan, thanks so much for that provocative introduction. [laughter] And good afternoon everyone. I have to admit
to being a little sleep deprived this afternoon. Like a lot of you, I was up watching the Oscar’s
last night. And so if any of you saw my Twitter feed, you know I predicted Avatar to win best
picture. So I missed the mark on that one a little bit. But even if the movie with the
environmental message didn’t win, I was so proud to see best picture go to the movie
with the woman director. Today I’m happy to have the chance to bring you the best of both
of those two experiences for our speech today. And as I get into my speech, I also ask you
to remember that the movie with the environmental message has actually made a lot of money. [laughter] I truly am grateful for the opportunity to
speak about how the good people at the Environmental Protection Agency have been making history.
We’ve restored the rightful place of science as the first factor in all of our decisions.
We’ve developed and implemented rules that will protect children, keep people healthy
and save lives. And we’ve taken long-overdue action on climate change, including a revolutionary
clean cars program built on the historic finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers public
health and welfare. Now, on that last point, the overwhelming scientific evidence was recently
met with arguments that Washington, D.C. experienced an unprecedented blizzard and record snowfalls
this winter; as if an unexpected change in our climate somehow disproves climate change. Today I want to talk about a misconception
that threatens to do more harm to our progress as a nation than the carping over climate
science. And that’s the misconception that we must make a choice between cleaning up
our environment and our growing economy. I’ve worked in environmental protection for
20 years. I’ve seen meaningful environmental efforts met time and again with predictions
of lost jobs and revenue. Lobbyists and business journals have done such a good job of ingraining
it into our way of thinking that many of us believe, sadly, that we must choose between
our economy and our environment. The people in my line of work haven’t done the best job
of communicating our side of this debate. We’ve lost the messaging war and we have to
do work to present the alternative. But it helps that history and the facts bear us out.
I’m here to show you today that the choice between the environment and the economy is
indeed a false choice. Well-conceived, effectively implemented environmental
protection is good for economic growth. Let me repeat that: environmental protection is
good for economic growth. Now don’t get me wrong, environmental regulations are not free.
But the money that’s spent is an investment in our country, and one that pays for itself.
First, environmental protection makes us healthier. It eliminates contributors to costly and often
deadly diseases like asthma, cancer and heart disease. My youngest son is one of 23 million
Americans with asthma. I know the financial and emotional burden of hospital visits and
doctor’s appointments. When the air is dirty, or the water is contaminated, and people are
getting sick, those kinds of health costs are multiplied by millions of families. And
they’re a burden to small businesses trying to provide health care to their workers. Good
environmental protection is critical to our health, and because of that it’s critical
to our economy. Second, environmental protection makes our communities more prosperous and
our workforce more productive. Those of you with kids in college will understand
the words of a man who said to me, “Businesses come to communities like parents come to colleges.
They look at the environment to make sure it’s healthy. They look at the people to make
sure they’re getting what they need to thrive. They want to know that this place means a
better future. And they don’t put their money down if they don’t like what they see.” This
is something we see all the time in our ongoing work on environmental justice. The idea that
environmental degradation is an obstacle to economic prosperity is a pillar of the environmental
justice movement. And in the places where new jobs are needed the most, environmental
degradation is an entry barrier for new investments and businesses. It’s what we see in inner
cities where air pollution makes kids miss school and workers stay home. It’s what we
see on tribal lands where open landfills are rampant and drinking water is polluted. Earlier
this year I met with a tribal leader who told me that his community was facing 50 percent
unemployment. It’s what we see in Greenville, Mississippi,
which is having trouble attracting jobs because their water, even though it meets federal
safety standards, runs brown in color. Poison in the ground means poison in the economy.
A weak environment means a weak consumer base. And unhealthy air means an unhealthy atmosphere
for investments. But a clean, green, healthy community is a better place to buy a home
and raise a family, it’s more competitive in the race to attract new businesses, and
it has the foundation it needs for prosperity. These are two reasons why our environment
is essential to our economy. But what I want to focus on today is the vital role environmentalism
plays for a critical driver of our economic success: our capacity for innovation and invention. Just yesterday, Thomas Friedman wrote that
“America still has the best innovation culture in the world.” He immediately followed that
by saying, “But we need better policies to nurture it.” This is what smart environmental
protection does. It creates a need, in other words a market for clean technology, and then
drives innovation and invention, in other words new products for that market. This is
our convenient truth: smart environmental protection creates jobs. Now, that may be a difficult idea for some
folks to handle. So before I go any further, let me lay out some common ground. Everyone
wants a clean environment. Ten out of ten Republicans surveyed want clean air to breathe.
Ten out of ten Democrats think safe water is important. Ask all 20 and they’d actually
agree. As a Boston Globe editorial put it last week, even anti-government protestors
know, it’s no fun having a tea party with contaminated water. [laughter] I receive as many letters from red states
as I do from blue states, from New Bedford, Massachusetts to Tar Creek, Oklahoma. Last
year, an amendment for EPA to relocate residents away from lead pollution in Treece, Kansas
was sponsored by Republican Senators Brownback, Roberts, and even my good friend Senator James
Inhofe. Senator Roberts called it “One of the rare instances of true bipartisan support.”
Oftentimes, the same offices that are blasting out press releases on the overreach of faceless
EPA bureaucrats are also asking those same bureaucrats for help. That’s a textbook example
of irony, and it’s all too evident in today’s politics. When it comes to people’s health, everyone
wants strong environmental protection. Everyone also wants a strong economy. We all want robust
job growth. No one favors higher costs for starting businesses or manufacturing products.
I have two teenage sons, which means I buy a lot of stuff. I am an active American consumer
and the last thing I want to see are higher prices for food, or utility bills, or shoes,
or clothes. So, we all want a clean environment, and we all want a strong economy. What you
may not realize is that we all have seen proof that we can have both. In the last 30 years, emissions of six dangerous
air pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, lead poisoning and more decreased 54 percent.
At the exact same time, gross domestic product grew by 126 percent. That means we made huge
reductions in air pollution at the same time that more cars went on the road, more power
plants went on line and more buildings went up. The question is: How does that happen? The
answer is: innovation. Innovation is the sweet spot. It’s where our economic and environmental
interests meet. It’s where business leaders and conservationists can come together to
hash out solutions, solutions that have filled American history with environmental achievements
and helped us lead the global economy. America is home to a world-leading environmental technology
industry. By conservative estimates, in 2007 environmental firms and small businesses in
the US generated $282 billion in revenues, and $40 billion in exports, and supported
1.6 million American jobs. And that number doesn’t include all the engineers and professional
services firms that support those businesses. Take for example New Jersey’s Engelhard Corporation,
which led the commercial production of the catalytic converter. If you drove here today,
your car had a catalytic converter in it to burn unleaded gasoline. Today those things
are standard. But 30 years ago, when EPA used the Clean Air Act to phase in unleaded gas
and catalytic converters, they were extremely controversial. Many major automakers opposed
them. The Chamber of Commerce claimed, and I quote, “Entire industries might collapse.” Using the Clean Air Act in this way was said
to be a poison pill for our economy, something that sounds all too familiar around Washington
today. Yet, the auto industry survived. Dangerous lead pollution in our air is 92 percent lower
than it was in 1980. By 1985, the reductions of lead in our environment had estimated health
benefits of $17 billion per year. The initial cost of the rule was paid back 10 to 13 times
over. And in 2006, the Engelhard Corporation was bought for $5 billion. That’s just one good example of how it works.
A new environmental rule led to new innovations, which led to new jobs. Now those of you too
young to remember the switch to catalytic converters may remember the phase out of ozone-depleting
CFCs. Remember CFCs? CFCs were the chemicals in aerosol cans and other products that led
to a growing hole in the ozone layer. I remember a lot of people wondering if they were going
to have to give up their hairspray or their deodorant, and not being too happy about it. And they weren’t the only unhappy ones. The
chemical industry predicted severe economic disruption. Refrigeration companies forecasted
shutdowns of supermarket coolers and chiller machines used to cool office buildings, hotels
and hospitals. Companies that used CFCs in manufacturing believed the transition would
be next to impossible. The doom-and-destruction never came to pass. Refrigerators and air
conditioners stayed on. When innovators took up the manufacturing challenge, they found
alternatives that worked better than CFCs. Some developed new technology that cut costs
while actually improving productivity and quality. And by making their products better
and cleaner, the American refrigeration industry actually gained access to overseas opportunities. These examples speak to a long history of
innovation, new jobs and better health through environmental protection. Yet, many still
claim that regulation is too costly, and believe that scaling back is the best thing for growth.
But we’ve already seen that in action. The theory that less regulation ought to be good
for the economy was put to the test in the last administration. In that time, there was
no apparent benefit for businesses or consumers. Prices on most products went up and costs
of fuel increased astronomically. Any savings that may have been expected for businesses
certainly didn’t translate into higher wages for American workers. In fact, the health
impacts for millions of Americans suffering from asthma, cancer and heart disease, coupled
with the steady rise in health insurance costs, created yet another level of expense for families
and businesses. Today we are slowly but surely pulling up
and out of the economic downturn. But many of our communities don’t have what they need
to rebuild. It’s no accident that so much of the Recovery Act is environmentally focused
and no wonder that so much of it is based on clean energy innovation: the wind, and
solar, and smart grid investments that have been made just in the last year. But clean
energy and community cleanup jobs in the Recovery Act are just the beginning.
The question we face now is, what can we at EPA do to protect our environment, strengthen
our communities and foster prosperity? One of the clear answers is abandoning the
old disputes and working in partnership on new innovations. Partnerships like the clean
cars program, which took shape when President Obama brought together automakers, autoworkers,
governors from across the country, and environmental advocates to craft an historic agreement.
Cleaner car standards will mean 950 million tons of carbon pollution cut from our skies;
$3000 in savings for drivers of clean cars, and $2.3 billion that can stay at home in
our economy rather than buying oil from overseas. It will also mean new innovation. American
scientists can step up to produce new composite materials that make cars lighter, safer and
more fuel efficient. Our inventors and entrepreneurs can take the lead in advanced battery technology
for plug-in hybrids and electric cars. And manufacturers across the country can produce
these new components, which they can then sell to automakers in the US and around the
globe. New environmental protections, new innovations, means new jobs. This is the direction
we are moving in 2010 as well. EPA is already proposing smog reductions and
finalized the first new NO2 standard in 35 years. We’re developing air pollution standards
that we know will foster innovation — and we’re working in partnership with utility
companies to figure out how we get there. We’re boosting the production and use of advanced
bio-fuels to double our use of renewables and break our dependence on foreign oil. That
will benefit rural communities, spark new demand, and, with clarity on where the regulations
stand, promote investments in research to expand the effectiveness and uses of renewable
bio-fuels. And of course, we will continue to face down our climate crisis and move into
the clean energy future. As you might expect, we’re running into the same old tired arguments. Once again, industry and lobbyists are trying
to convince us that change will be absolutely impossible. Once again, alarmists are claiming
this will be the death knell of our economy. Once again they are telling us we have to
choose: economy or environment? Most drastically, we are seeing efforts to further delay EPA
action to reduce greenhouse gases. This is happening despite the overwhelming science
on the dangers of climate change, despite the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision that EPA
must use the Clean Air Act to reduce the proven threat of greenhouse gases, and despite the
fact that leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence. Supposedly these efforts have been put forward
to protect jobs. In reality, they will have negative economic effects. The clean cars
program could be put on indefinite hold, leaving American automakers once again facing a patchwork
of state standards. Without a clear picture of greenhouse gas regulations, there will
be little incentive to invest in clean energy jobs. America will fall farther behind our
international competitors in the race for clean energy innovation. Finally, the economic
costs of unchecked climate change will be orders of magnitude higher for the next generation
than it would be for us to take action today. I can’t in good conscience support any measure
that passes that burden on to my two sons, or to their children. I find it hard to believe
that any parent could say to their child, “We’re going to wait to act.” This debate
also has us arguing over something the American people and many American businesses have already
decided on. Recent years have seen a growing grassroots
environmentalism that is directly tied to our economy. Informed consumers are demanding
more of their products. Business leaders are recognizing cost-savings potential of energy
efficiency and sustainability, and they are putting serious money into innovation. This
is a grassroots environmental movement that votes with its dollars. Seven in 10 consumers
say they will choose brands that are doing good things for people and the planet. 74
percent believe that our companies should do more to protect our planet. And more than
half of Americans will look for environmentally friendly products in their next purchase.
These changes are happening, and not on the margins of our economy. Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world,
has set goals to use 100 percent renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell
healthier, sustainable products. Two weeks ago they announced a plan to cut 20 million
metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions across the life cycle of their products in the next
five years. They made the announcement via web cast on, of all places, TreeHugger.com.
Proctor and Gamble, which produces Tide, and Duracell and products that touch almost 3
billion people per day, is planning an announcement next week encouraging all their brands to
shrink their environmental footprint. A General Mills factory in Minnesota is recycling oat
hulls from their cereals for biofuel, and saving $500,000 in fuel costs in the process.
The appropriately-named Green Giant is reducing pesticides and chemical water pollution with
sustainable farming. These are companies we all know and use: Timberland,
Nike, the Gap, Best Buy, Starbucks, and they are responding to consumer demand. Consumers
want to know that their products don’t have hidden health and environmental costs. Companies
must respond to parents who refuse to buy bottles with BPA in them, or that leach dangerous
chemicals into drinking water. Industry can try to resist and ignore EPA, but I know and
they know, that they resist the forces of the green marketplace at their peril. It’s time to put to rest the notion that economic
growth and environmental protection are incompatible. It’s time to finally dismiss this false choice.
We need a new approach, one that plays to America’s greatest strengths of ingenuity,
invention and innovation. We need to reclaim the leadership in the development of new products
that protect our health and our environment. And we need to capitalize on the growing green
marketplace here and around the world. That approach would be a return to basics,
which is appropriate for the EPA in 2010 because this year marks EPA’s 40th Anniversary. When
EPA began 40 years ago, the first Administrator William Ruckelshaus wrote, “The technology
which has bulldozed its way across the environment must now be employed to remove impurities
from the air, to restore vitality to our rivers and streams, to recycle the waste that is
the ugly by-product of our prosperity.” That is just as true now as it was then. We can’t retreat from a rapidly industrialized
planet and a global economy. We must integrate conservation and a passion for planetary stewardship
into the global rush towards economic growth. On the same token, the laissez-faire and anti-government
crowd must understand that ever-expanding economic opportunity is not possible without
sustainability. Without protection for the water, air and land that people depend on,
we can only go so far. Without clean energy, the global economy will be running on empty
within our lifetimes. It’s time to stop denying that obvious truth, stop playing on the politics
of delay and denial, and start thinking more broadly about what is going to help us all
move forward together. Which brings me to my final point, another
piece of common ground we share. We are all counting on the ingenuity and the creativity
of the American people. Now I’m done with the false choice between the economy and the
environment. I want an EPA that is a leader in innovations that protect our health and
our environment and expand new opportunities. I’m not interested in leading an agency that
only tells us what we can’t do. I want to work together on all the things we can do.
This is about rising to meet our most urgent environmental and economic challenges, not
shrinking from them with the excuse that it’s just too hard. That’s never been a good enough
answer for the American people. At no point in our history has any problem
been solved by waiting another year to act, or burying our heads in the sand. Progress
is made by seeing, in our greatest challenges, all the possibilities for building a healthier,
more prosperous future, and bringing the best we have to offer to the table. It’s what we’ve
done before. It’s what we have to do again today. It’s not something we can leave for
tomorrow. I want to thank you very much and I’m happy to take some questions. [applause] Male Speaker:
And thank you for your time Administrator Jackson. As there is no surprise here, there
are numerous questions in dealing with climate change. And the first question, if you’ll
step up here and we’ll address the audience. Christine Todd Whitman was on C-Span this
morning, and she was saying the climate change debate is so politicized at this point, that
the argument for legislation should, should be entirely about clean air and not about
climate change. Are you concerned that recent controversy about climate change science will
hurt chances for legislation this year, and do you think that the climate message needs
to be downplayed in favor of clean air? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, I’m not going to be in favor of not
giving the best science we can to the American people. And the science is absolutely crystal
clear. There’s certainly an organized effort to sew doubt in people’s minds, and there’s
some indication that it may be working on some level. But as head of the EPA, I believe
I have to continue to stand here and make it crystal clear that the science isn’t unsettled.
That we do know, that our emissions of greenhouse gasses are accumulating in our atmosphere,
and interfering with the way the atmosphere is supposed to work. What it’s doing is changing
our climate and it means catastrophic problems for us going forward. So, no I can’t, as head of the EPA. Certainly
legislators are going to do what legislators do, and politicians are going to do what they
think is necessary to make progress. But what I hope is that we all keep our eye on the
ball here, which is to transition to cleaner energy. Male Speaker:
Given EPA’s knowledge of the science and it’s priorities, why hasn’t the administration
sent legislative principles to capitol hill regarding its preferred approach on climate
change? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, I don’t think there’s been bigger cheerleader for transition to clear energy and a need
for comprehensive clean energy legislation than President Obama. And I’ve joined him
several times, and will do again today, saying that we need Congress to act. We’ve seen the
U.S. House of Representatives act, so now we’re, frankly, waiting on the U.S. Senate.
And I believe, that the hope has been all along, that the continuing efforts in the
U.S. Senate, and we have some continuing to go on as we speak here today, will result
in legislation that can pass that house and in a bill that the President can sign. Male Speaker:
Is cap-and-trade the necessary system to slow climate change, or would a carbon tax or other
methods work as well, or better? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
That’s a trick question. Listen, you know that the truth of the matter is that of course
people have varying ideas on how best to deal with climate change and also really how best
to use the marketplace. My speech was about the marketplace, to incentivize the move to
clean energy. We know, right now, that between lawsuits that exist today, they exist right
now forget the EPA, and the fact that there is no price on carbon, that it’s essentially
free to put as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as you want. But there’s a real
chilling on the investment that needs to happen in clean energy technologies. Now the recovery,
I put a lot of money, public money, into clean energy technologies, but this thing will not
take off. The kind of innovation I just spoke about, won’t happen if we don’t see private
financing follow and so I do think there are other ways to put a price on carbon. Clearly,
the President has talked a lot about the ease with which a cap-and-trade program fits into
our economy, but I know those discussions could … Male Speaker:
On the topic of market-oriented mechanisms, your agency’s budget for fiscal year 2011
says the EPA wants to examine this for cutting greenhouse gasses. Now, some have taken that
to mean that the agency might pursue carbon trading programs for some industries, if a
legislation cap-and-trade for the whole economy can’t get through Congress. Would the EPA
try to forge ahead with the carbon trading if Congress doesn’t pass a cap-and-trade bill? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
First, I refuse to speculate, because I believe that Congress will step up to the challenge,
hopefully sooner rather than later. I do think that people are over-reading a little bit
of our budget language. EPA has a history of relying on market-based incentives in our
regulation as it is, and I don’t think you should read into that. That we have some plan
that folks don’t know about, to enforce a cap-and-trade regime; we don’t at all. But
what I’ve been really strong about is, and I think you heard in the speech, the ability
of the Clean Air Act to be used reasonably and sensibly to help move markets, to help
drive innovation, to help bring along a transition to a clean energy economy. And I’ve gone farther.
I’ve said the Clean Air Act, in its use right now, can be entirely consistent with legislation
to come. There’s no reason we can’t do that and keep an eye on what’s happening on the
legislative front and make sure we don’t get to a place where those — Male Speaker:
Following on your statement that cap-and-trade or carbon legislation will be passed sooner
or later, let’s say a comprehensive plan ends up being a little bit later than say 2010.
Would a sector-specific bill for an area such as utilities, be possible this year? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well there are all kinds of — I’m sure the question in there was all kinds, kinds of
alternate plans that folks are talking about now. I think there’s one principle that we
need to keep in mind: energy truly does touch our entire economy in some way, and because
so much of our energy’s fossil fuel based, that means as we move to cleaner forms of
energy, we going to have to touch practically all of our economy. So I think it’s going
to be very important as people look at all these alternatives to realize that when you
move away, the more you move away from an economy-wide approach, although you can make
some progress, you again lose some opportunities to really harness that private-sector investment,
to look at approached that are win-win on all sides. And I think that, that is the one
issue that I know we have to deal with when we start to [inaudible]. Male Speaker:
Final question on climate legislation for at least a bit, because I know the questions
are still coming in. There’s a discussion and word that Senators Kerry and Graham may
release a draft climate bill next week. If they were to do so, how quickly could EPA
have an economic analysis completed? [laughter] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
All right, who’s here from Senator Kerry’s office? [laughter] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Oh yeah, EPA, one of the strengths EPA has, is incredible staff of folks who have worked
for years on, what are generally thought to be state-of-the-art models. We model every
regulation that we put in place, and we do it to look at the impact on the economy. My
argument is, we’ve never looked at all the benefits to the economy, but the modeling
takes six to eight weeks. It takes a long time because the models are interrelated and
quite complex, and so from the time, not that we get legislation, but that we get something
that has the specifications to model, takes six to eight weeks. Male Speaker:
On other topics, several months ago the EPA postponed a decision on an ethanol waiver,
to raise the allowable amount of ethanol in fuel to 15 percent, but said a final decision
would likely be made in mid-March, which is next week. Since we’re about there, the questioner
asks; care to make news on this issue today? [laughter] Male Speaker:
Are you still expecting a final ruling by mid-March? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well questioner, I’m sorry but I’ve got to back up a little bit. So, EPA’s already made
final rules that really encourage the next generation of bio-fuels and grandfathers in
the current supply of ethanol, a corn-based ethanol that’s made in this country. That’s
been a big issue, and one of real concern to people in rural America. They were afraid
they’d lose that industry. The waiver issue is a little different. It’s how much ethanol
can be in gasoline that you put in a variety of applications, obviously our cars but also
other engines, and it depends on testing. But I have said that that testing needs to
be complete because we don’t want to find out that that ethanol blend has any unknown
adverse consequences to engines. That’s not good for ethanol; it wouldn’t be good for
its future, and certainly not good for the consumers, for the American people. The testing
will be done in March or April, it’s being done in conjunction with the Department of
Energy and we’ll make decisions after that. Male Speaker:
The U.S. auto industry has been given numerical fuel economy targets to meet for new cars
and trucks they build. But new and modified power plants, oil refineries, and other stationary
sources have been told they need to use the best available technology to control emissions.
What is the best available technology going to be? Could you give some specific examples
of the technologies that a new or modified power plant would use to comply with EPA rules? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well now somebody knows I’m an engineer by training. So, you know, it’s very hard as
an engineer not to talk about technology all the time. That’s the speech. I believe technology
is key to the challenge of climate pollution just like every other challenge that we have.
The other thing about technology though is it is especially in this space, rapidly evolving.
And so I think the, the best available control technology rubric comes from the Clean Air
Act. It comes from an act that was foreseen that that’s foresaw the need to constantly
be ratcheting standards, depending on where best available control technology is. No,
I’m not going to make news on what technologies are best for dealing with carbon today, but
you’re heard about a range of those. And President Obama has put me as co-chair in charge of
a task force to look at carbon capture and sequestration technologies; the idea that
we need to be able to capture carbon dioxide pollution and then put it somewhere where
it won’t enter our atmosphere. Male Speaker:
How do you respond to Republicans, such as Senator Inhofe and Representative Sensenbrenner,
who say that without strong moves by China and India to curb global warming, the United
States would be harmed economically? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well first, I’d ask them to read my speech. I really think that we’re missing an opportunity
if we don’t realize that the technologies that are going to be used to move us into
cleaner energy, lower carbon, less water use, all those technologies are going to be important,
not just here, but to the world. So I would say there’s no reason to wait for China and
India to act if we truly believe that there’s a reason, an environmental, an economic, to
act now. In fact there’s every reason to not to wait, is every reason to move forward as
expeditiously as we can so we don’t see what seems to be happening, continue. Which is
that we innovate, we invent, and then it goes overseas to be manufactured and used because
there’s no market for it here. Male Speaker:
How do you respond to what some audiences overseas will say about a climate debt? That
the rich countries, such as the U.S. and the European Union, caused global warming and
should have to foot most of the bill? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, certainly there are arguments about how, on the international stage, to really
attack a problem like climate change. And I think those discussions will continue. I
don’t have a specific answer on the concerns that climate debt raises, but you can understand
the underlying concern, which is when you’re talking about developed countries and then
talking about nations that are trying to develop, you can understand the equities and the needs
of those nations to try to develop in a way that gives first and foremost citizens access
to energy. Something we probably take for granted in this country every day. The ideal
of course, is that as those countries develop, they develop in a way that jumps over dirty
energy and moves to cleaner forms of energy. So that as they’re growing, and I think technical
assistance is a wonderful way to help ensure that. EPA’s been doing a lot of that work,
so have other parts of the government. As they develop, we can try to avoid similar
problems and some of the issues that we’re now having to deal with in retrospect. Male Speaker:
You recently announced a review of the rules surrounding the use of chemicals in consumer
products. Do you plan to require companies to disclose to the public, research showing
that the chemicals used in their products are safe? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, I think the good news is that consumers are demanding to know what is in the products
that they buy and more and more that kind of right-to-know, based on the old right-to-know
legislation which has been so powerful for environmental protection as a whole, is, is
foremost in their minds and companies see that. I mean, my speech talked about the need
for companies to prove to consumers, the ultimate end user, and not just individual consumers
but even corporate consumers, that the products they’re buying are safe and sustainable. I
believe we are literally on the brink of finally modernizing the chemical safety laws for this
country. And when you think about the fact that they’re 30 years old, and you think about
the fact that they have been widely perceived not just by EPA, but by industry as well,
as toothless. I think we owe it to the American people to answer their increasing concerns
and pleas for help, and certainly for me, as a mom, as a consumer, it’s one of my seven
top priorities for EPA while I’m here. Male Speaker:
You have long said you will make your decisions based on sound science and the law. How do
you make decisions when the science is uncertain? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
The science on climate change is not uncertain, but there are pieces of science that are uncertain.
And as a scientist, as an engineer, I have a great faith and comfort level with the idea
of peer review, independent peer review. I call for peer review all the time. You can
talk to my staff and the first thing I’ll ask is, “Where’s this data from, has it been
peer reviewed?” Because as we learn more and more, as our instruments get more and more
sensitive, as we learn about chemicals we never even knew existed in byproducts, processed
that we never measured before, we have to. We owe it to the American people not to take
that information and assume it for the worst, but to test and rigorously study and then.
We also owe it to them that we sum up all we know in a timely manner; not years from
now when it’s too late, not when they’ve already been potentially exposed, to give them the
best information they have. And that’s what we’re insisting on every day at EPA. Male Speaker:
Your agency makes decisions every day that affect every American, which means communication
is vital. On a scale of A to F, how would you grade EPA’s communication effectiveness,
and how would you improve it? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, I think my communications staff are here in the audience, great job. [laughter] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
And so I don’t want them to get complacent, so I’ll say strong B plus. Yeah, no I’m, I
don’t think that’s fair at all. I do think that EPA has to sometimes step back and realize
that this, this, EPA is sort of an iceberg. About 90 percent of what we do as an agency
is under the water line, really invisible to the average American. The 10 percent that’s
above the line is the 10 percent that says there is a place in the federal government
which has only one mission, and that’s clean air, clean water, safe products. That part
of our mission, I think we sometimes take for granted, and probably is no challenge
greater as we look at our mission than to make sure that people don’t think that because
we have an EPA, I don’t have to worry about it. We are rapidly reaching the point where
EPA cannot do it without citizens taking actions in their own lives. We can talk about cleaner
cars, but what will make this thing go is consumers who purchase them. So I think it’s very important that we not
only continue to expand our conversation and not just environmentalists, but to people
of all backgrounds and all walks of life. People who don’t think of themselves as environmentalists,
but also make it clear that just because EPA is here or I’m at the EPA, that they don’t
have a job to do as well. Male Speaker:
How does one involve more stakeholders beyond public interest groups and industry groups
in the discussion on EPA? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
In fact, I think that question is a recognition, or a nod, towards the fact that one of our,
another of our seven priorities this year is expanding the conversation on environmentalism
and working for environmental justice. Expanding the conversation is a mouthful; it means who
do you talk you and what you say to them. You know, I have a staff member who tells
a story about how every year his grandmother would get up as it started to get cold and
put plastic sheeting over her windows. And I always tease him, “Well I’m sure she didn’t
call herself part of President Obama’s weatherization task force.” And she probably didn’t talk
about the need to transition to clean energy, but she knew it affected her utility bill,
she knew it made a difference in her quality of life. She is helping our agenda on clean
energy and energy efficiency. So we have to move to communities, to consumers,
and help state governments, local governments, to speak to those people, speak to all people.
And I’m especially interested in speaking to people of color because I think there’s
a myth out there, sometimes true but not always, that we have other things to worry about as
communities of color. And I’m an African-American woman who grew up, you know, in the south,
in New Orleans. And for me, I didn’t come to the environmental movement because of its
beauty, I came because I believe we have to fight pollution. As prosperous as we are as
a country, we have to also insist on clean air, and clean water, and clean land. Male Speaker:
Do you see offshore drilling as part of a smart climate change strategy? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Yeah, you know the President has called for, and I understand and agree with his belief
that our energy strategy has to be varied and should include increased offshore drilling
when it can be done in a way that is protective of the environment. I also think he, it’s
important to remember he’s also called for other forms of offshore energy, and I’m — you
know, I come from New Jersey, a state that has embraced the idea of offshore wind power
as part of what it would like to see as its offshore energy mix in the future. So I think
the conversation about asking communities to think again about resources that it might
have, as well as about energy efficiency, cutting down on how much energy you use in
the first place is really important. Male Speaker:
The EPA put out a list in late December identifying four chemicals that would face stricter labeling
and reporting requirements. Why was BPA not one of them? Does this mean the end agency
won’t regulate the chemical? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
I’ll answer the second question first. BPA is a chemical commonly used in plasticizers
and it’s used very commonly in many consumer products. EPA is planning to follow — to
finalize an action plan on BPA in the very near future, so the folks who are worried
about whether or not we backed away from it shouldn’t be worried at all. But I think the
bigger news on BPA this year was the FDA’s change in its regard for the chemical, I don’t
remember the actual bureaucratic term, but essentially we’re finally at a place where
our government is saying that there’s real concern and is starting to do the work to
determine the level of that concern, and is actually even gone far enough to say to consumers
in the meantime, “Here’s how to minimize the chances that BPA will end up in water you
drink, or in water that you might consume, or in your bodies. Male Speaker:
How do you plan to structure permitting for agricultural pesticide applications under
the Sixth Circuit ruling in National Cotton Council v. EPA? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
[laughs] Now these are pretty good questions. So the Sixth Circuit ruling on National Cotton
Council basically says that you need a permit to apply pesticides that have any shot of
running off the land and ending up in water. So oftentimes in agricultural use pesticides
are applied, they’re not meant to end up in water, but they can end up in water. In that
case is about the fact that people especially needs to have the right to know those pesticides
are being applied and the rate at which they’re applied. So that tells them that, tells people
that they need a permit. That’s a huge undertaking, and it’s one we’re doing in partnership with
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with many state agencies. You can rest assured
that that permit, when it goes out, because so many people in rural America are concerned
about it, will be out for comment and will be done in a way that, I think, shows that
we’re building on programs that are already out there as we comply with the court’s ruling. Male Speaker:
Reducing emissions from large ocean-going ships could cut carbon dioxide emissions dramatically.
Will the EPA regulate global warming pollutants from ships that enter U.S. ports? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, you know, we’ve already taken, I think, historic steps on ocean-going vessels. There’s
a couple things to remember: that work has to be done in conjunction with the international
maritime community. So, you know, we could probably regulate three miles, or 10 miles,
or something offshore, many states have said that. But real comprehensive legislation will
come from regulating the ship engines in a way that we change the fleet over time to
a cleaner, more efficient fleet. The real success story with ocean-going vessels
has been around particulate pollution. Our science has shown that if you reduced the
sulfur content of the fuels that are burned in those ships 100 miles offshore, you will
have impacts if you do if California, all the way to Kansas; in terms of air quality.
You will see improved air quality from a simple step like that. That’s up, right now, in front
of the International Maritime Organization for approval. EPA is really proud to work
with the Coast Guard and our partners in Canada to insist on probably, the most stringent,
I think had it not been for EPA’s, the United States’ effort to insist on stringent standards
for the kind of oil that’s burned in these ships, we wouldn’t see a change. So we’re
certainly happy to continue that kind of thinking as we move forward. Male Speaker:
How would you characterize the progress of the Superfund site clean-up and what is your
strategy for dealing with the more difficult sites, such as large mining sites? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Well, Superfund is chugging along. The President’s FY2011 budget includes a $1.3 billion budget
request for cleaning up sites. That’s right on par, just, just a tiny bit under last year’s
amount, but it continues his call, President Obama’s call for reinstatement of the tax
on chemical feed stocks that supports the Superfund. Certainly I don’t think there’s
any argument that we have these mega sites, whether they be mining sites or others, that
really require an incredible amount of work to clean up. We just listed the Gowanus canal
in New York City, for example. And well, we are really proud of the fact that we’re at
a point in the Superfund program, where listing the site makes us optimistic, that all parties
are going to get cleaned up. It’s going to be a very expensive undertaking,
so I think more money for the program, dedicated, so that those who need to do clean ups know
that the government has money to step in, is a very good thing. And I think we’ll continue
to not only work on Superfund but there’s an increase in the President’s budget proposal
for Brownfield sites. Many sites, many communities are lucky not to have a major Superfund site,
but they have these little Brownfield sites. These old dilapidated places that have since
closed down and they’re standing in the way of economic growth. There’s more money in
the budget because we recognize that a little bit of seed money from the public sector can
really unlock private investment in those Brownfield sites. Male Speaker:
Another mining question. What are the EPA’s plans for addressing mountain-top removal
mining and its environmental impact during 2010? How likely is it that the EPA will succeed
in toughening mining regulations? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
The, the EPA’s currently in the process of reviewing those mountain-top mining permits
that have been held through years and years. Some of them, you know, decades would be a
fair way to say it, of litigation. This is a practice that is, you know, quite emotional
for many people in America. You know, it’s, it’s the there are thin seams of coal above
mountain-tops, I guess, above in Appalachia, exclusively in Appalachia, and the practice
that’s most cost-efficient is to simply blow off the top, level it, and remove that thin
seam. And then all that rubble from the top of the mountain gets put into valleys, and
almost inevitably fills streams. What we’re finding at EPA is that the process
of filling the streams has a detrimental impact on water quality. And as you might expect,
the more you fill, the more likely you’re going to see problems with water quality.
I’m really proud of the fact that the EPA stepped forward and said, “We’re going to
review each and every one of these outstanding permits to try to minimize, if not end, any
environmental degradation to the water. Because, after all, for EPA it doesn’t regulate mining,
we fight for clean water under the Clean Water Act. Our role is limited to ensuring that
these projects, if they are approved, do not have a detrimental impact on clean water.
We’ll continue to do that. And I have promised Senator Byrd that we would get clarity, of
guidance out for those companies who have permits that are in the process. That will
happen very shortly. Male Speaker:
Will the EPA be moving forward with a low-carbon fuel standard under its authority, under the
Supreme Court decision in EPA v. Massachusetts? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Now I’m wondering if these questions are coming from my staff. [laughter] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
I don’t know. I think that several states, a low-carbon fuel standard the idea is that
states, most recently I think California, but other states have talked about it as well,
will simply ask that fuels get, if you will, less carbon intense over time. And bio-fuels
and advanced bio-fuels are certainly a part of that picture as well. So we’ll continue
to have discussion, in many cases these issues are led by the states, but we’ll continue
to have discussions about the right way to move to low-carbon. Male Speaker:
Moving back toward a broader question, do you worry that in the current fiscal climate,
that state budget cuts will lead to their inability to enforce clean air and water acts? Administrator Lisa Jackson:
As a former state commissioner, my most recent job was head of the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection, a little detour with Governor Corzine, and now I find myself
here and of course I worry. I know that state budgets all over the country are being squeezed.
I know it’s happening in New Jersey. And I will just simply say this to the nation’s
governors as they make those hard choices. Clean air, clean water, the people who work
on those programs in your state are incredibly important. And here’s better news, the President’s
budget includes money, more money than they’ve ever seen to support them. So it’s not a good
place to cut because you’re really turning down federal funding for the people who go
out write the permits that businesses will need if they want expand, or go out and enforce
the regulations if citizens call with a concern. So, of course I worry; I certainly wouldn’t
envy any governor the tough job of producing a balanced budget. But we heard that loud
and clear from the states and it’s why, this year, the EPA has more money than ever for
state support. Male Speaker:
We’re almost out of time. But before asking the last question, we have a couple of important
matters to take care of. First, to remind our audience of future speakers, on March
9th, tomorrow, we have Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, who will discuss
the Obama Administration’s trade agenda. On March 15th, a week from today, we have Dick
Armey, the Chairman of Freedom Works. And on April 5th, Douglas Shulman, the Commissioner
at the Internal Revenue Service, will be speaking to us as the clock ticks on your tax returns.
For our second item, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, I’d like to present our
guest with the traditional and coveted National Press Club mug. Administrator Lisa Jackson:
[laughs] Oh my goodness. I’m going to have to check with the ethics officials on such
a — [laughter] Male Speaker:
Well, regardless of whether you can accept that, we thank you for coming today. Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Thanks so much. Male Speaker:
I’d also like to thank the National Press Club staff, including its library and broadcast
center, for organizing today’s event. Our last question is, in the program ‘The Simpsons,”
the Environmental Protection Agency is portrayed as an agency with no fewer controversies than
the ones today. Would your EPA consider putting a dome over the city of Springfield, as in
“The Simpsons” — [laughter] — and what is your feeling toward the portrayal
of your agency on that television program, now in its 20th year? [laughter] Administrator Lisa Jackson:
First, I love “The Simpsons”, let me just say that. And Lisa Simpson rocks. [laughs]
You know, when I first came in last April, first I called my managers together, what
a small band we were back then, and told them we had a serious meeting. And we watched “The
Simpsons.” And we did it because some of them had never seen it, but also because, you know,
if you’re an EPA employee there’s a little bit of pain there, it hurts a little to see
that portrayal of the agency. It speaks to the fact that the American people have gotten
to the point where they have lost trust in the agency. That the agency could be corrupted
enough, if you will, to think of an idea like domeing off a city as a way of protecting
the environment. You know, EPA is back on the job. We challenged
ourselves over the past year to make sure we re-earned the trust of the American people.
I hope we’re doing that, and I cannot think of a better job to have. So, no we’re not
going to do it to you Springfield, wherever you might be, all the Springfields out there.
And as I’m fond of pointing out, no matter what you think of the Clean Air Act, air is
all of ours, so it’s just as important to your state as mine that we all pitch in to
keep it clean and healthy. So, thanks. [applause] Male Speaker:
Thank you. [applause] Male Speaker:
And as the air is filled with Springfield’s sighs of relief, remember for more information
about joining the National Press Club and on how to acquire a copy of today’s program,
please go to our website at www.press.org. Thank you for being here today, thank you
for viewing and listening. This meeting is adjourned.

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