Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA FY 2003 Annual Budget Planning Meeting
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
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
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
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
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."
Now I would be happy to take a few questions.