Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Jackson Speaks at Press Club On Environment & Economy

Mar 7: U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, delivered a speech to the National Press Club with the theme that what's good for the environment is good for the economy. Jackson said, "We've restored the rightful place of science as the first factor in all of our decisions; developed and implemented rules that will protect children, keep people healthy and save lives; and 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.

    "On that last point, the overwhelming scientific evidence was recently met with arguments that Washington DC 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 growing our economy. . ."
    She said environmental protection "makes us healthier. It eliminates contributors to costly and often deadly diseases like asthma, cancer and heart disease. Second, environmental protection makes our communities more prosperous and our workforce more productive. . . 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."
    She indicated that, "Everyone wants a clean environment. 10 out of 10 Republicans want clean air to breathe. 10 out of 10 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.'"
    As one example, Jackson cited, "the phase out of ozone-depleting 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 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. . ."

    She said, "New environmental protections. New innovations. New jobs. This is the direction we are moving in 2010 . . . 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 changes 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. . .
    ". . .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. . . 7 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. . . 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 own 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. . . 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.
    Access a release from EPA with excerpts, and link to the full speech and sound bites (click here).