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Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
to the
EPA FY 2003 Annual Budget Planning Meeting
Washington, D.C.

June 21, 2001

Thank you, Mike (Ryan) for that introduction. I also want to thank you and the entire staff of the office of the Chief Financial Officer for all the work they've done to help create such a smooth transition from the previous administration. I know how hard you've all worked and I appreciate your dedication and professionalism.

I want to join in welcoming everyone here today, and I want to give a special welcome to those state and tribal representatives who are joining us for this important meeting, as well as to the representatives from the various unions whose members include EPA employees. Your presence here today is a part of my effort to build true partnerships with those with whom we share common goals. I am delighted you could be with us and look forward to your participation.

When I was governor of New Jersey, I was responsible every year for proposing to the Legislature an annual budget for state government. During my tenure, I proposed 8 budgets, each one balanced, each one reflecting my priorities for the state and the people state government serves.

I was very much a hands-on executive when it came to the budget, not because I'm a micromanager – which I'm not – but because I believe a budget is more than just a set of numbers. It's really a policy document – the policy document – that sets the priorities and steers the direction for the coming year. The budget is where the policy becomes real.

So I am eager to begin with you this process of building, from the ground up, a budget that reflects President Bush's priorities for the environment in the coming fiscal year. The President has made it clear that he expects the American people to get full value for every taxpayer dollar we spend in Washington, and they will from the EPA.

They will get their money's worth, not just because we are committed to fiscal responsibility, but because the environmental challenges we face as a Nation are too important – and the resources never enough – to allow us to do anything but use them wisely, efficiently, and effectively.

The President has called for government-wide management reforms that will, when implemented, make Washington more accountable while, at the same time, improving the government services we provide to the American people.
Reforms such as budget and performance integration, strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improving financial performance, and expanding e-government will make our work more effective, will help us focus on results rather than process.

Of course, here at EPA, many of these reforms are already underway. We have a head start on some of our counterparts in other departments and agencies. Now we have to take advantage of our lead to bring these reforms to the next level.
Reaching for the next level includes several important steps.

It includes developing more outcome-based strategic and annual goals and measures, thus making it easier for us identify what works and what doesn't work so we can direct resources accordingly.

It includes improving the availability and quality of environmental data. Good data will allow us to make those evaluations of success or failure, keeping us from having to rely too much on either anecdotal evidence or outside pressure to make budget decisions.

Bringing reform to the next level also means increasing the use of performance information in decision making. Using such information as past performance, risk, anticipated risk reduction, and cost to the Agency will also help us make better decisions about how we allocate our resources.

All of these reforms, of course, are designed to help us reach that goal you have heard me mention before once or twice – making our air cleaner, our water purer, and our land better protected. That, truly, is the ultimate measure of our success. It doesn't matter how many fines we've levied, how many companies we've sued, how many new regulations we've promulgated, or how many new paperwork requirements we've added if, at the end of the day, the environment isn't in better shape than it was when we started.

Everything we do should be looked at through that prism. Will this make the air cleaner? Will this make the water purer? Will this leave the land better protected?

Let me share with you some of my specific priorities that I believe will help answer those questions in the affirmative.
I want our budget to promote efforts to reduce emissions as a way of making our air cleaner. The President's multi-emission bill is a prime example of how we can move forward in reducing air pollution. In addition, I want us to focus on reducing indoor air pollution, especially as it relates to children. Of course, our efforts to promote energy conservation will also result in cleaner air.
With respect to purer water, this budget should reflect a commitment to increased efforts to address water quality issues through a watershed based approach, perhaps by identifying as many as 25 different watersheds throughout the country for specific improvement. In addition, we have to begin in earnest the task of bring America's water infrastructure up-to-date. I also want to begin addressing the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone challenge, a problem that touches five of our ten regions.
To leave the land better protected, we have to be ready to expand our efforts to reclaim the thousands of brownfields that continue to scar too many neighborhoods all across America. I am hopeful that we'll get broad brownfield legislation enacted into law this year. We need to be ready to move on it, should that happen.

There is another priority I'd like to see us address that will help improve our air, water, and land – that's voluntary chemical reductions. I think it's time the Agency move to the next generation of the successful 33-50 program.

In addition, I intend to maintain the focus on children's health issues begun under my immediate predecessor, while expanding that focus to include another vulnerable population – the elderly.

I also believe we can do more to promote the development of new, cost-effective technologies to addresses some of our most pressing environmental challenges. To that end, I want to establish a national competition – with a significant award – to encourage both institutions and entrepreneurs to put their minds to work to find the solutions we need. I believe that technology doesn't have to be the environment's enemy – it can and should be its ally.

Moving in new directions also requires us to look closely at old practices. When our resources are limited – and they are – we have to be ready to discard those practices that don't work, that don't help, in favor of those that do. We simply can't afford to fund any effort that doesn't produce positive, measurable environmental results.

As we seek to promote results, we must also promote the use of strong science in pursuing those results. This issue is clearly a priority for our friends on Capitol Hill, as it is for this Administration. They want to know – and this is a bipartisan concern – that we are using and promoting solid scientific study and analysis in our decision making. I want our FY ‘03 budget to reflect our commitment to strong science.

I also want to be sure that our budget reflects our commitment to enforcing the law. I have said repeatedly during the past five months that I believe we are ready for a new era in environmental stewardship – an era that seeks to build partnerships, not create adversaries – in our common goal of preserving and protecting the environment and the public health.
We need to ensure, however, that no one mistakes this invitation to partnership as a license to pollute. I want Congress to know and I want the American people to know that this Agency will continue to enforce the law with vigor and with common sense.

I also want our budget to reflect my commitment to breaching the programmatic silos that operate within the Agency. There are so many cases when we should be working across programs, but instead we end up working at cross purposes.
I believe the Agency needs to take a more holistic view of the work we do. In a very real sense, our operational structure should be as interrelated and interconnected as nature is itself. We should be as committed to building partnerships within the Agency as we are to building them outside the Agency.

I am looking forward to working with all of you in the weeks and months ahead to craft our first budget together. You will find that I am very much hands-on when it comes to drawing up our budget, so consider yourselves forewarned. But I'll make a deal with you – if you promise not to tell me too often "That's the way we've always done it," I'll try to say as infrequently as possible, "This is the way we did it in New Jersey."

Thank you.

Now I would be happy to take a few questions.

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