Thursday, December 02, 2010

EPA Marks 40th Anniversary

EPA is 40 Years Old and the Center is 25 Years Old

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Remarks to EPA Staff at the 40th Anniversary Event

December 2, 2010



40 years ago today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors for the very first time.  And what started four decades ago today began a history of tangible improvements to the health and the environment of the American people. Let me begin by saying that this is very special to me personally. I started my career at this agency. I came to EPA because of my love of science, and because I wanted to use that love of science to help people. I came to EPA because of the value I placed on the natural environment, after growing up on the Gulf Coast in New Orleans, living by the water and studying in the wetlands. And I came here because, after seeing events like Love Canal, I knew that EPA would give me a chance to come to work and serve people. As it is for so many of you, the protection of our health and the environment is not just my job – it’s my lifelong passion.

I’ve seen EPA change and grow under three presidents and six different administrators. Since becoming Administrator I’ve had the chance to speak with some of my predecessors who have taught me a great deal about this job. Leaders like William Ruckelshaus, our first administrator. William Riley, Michael Leavitt, Christine Todd Whitman, and my colleague in the administration, Carol Browner. It is my pleasure and my privilege to follow in their footsteps and to lead this agency on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.

Removing Lead from Gasoline and from the Air – a change that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives.  Removing the Acid from Rain – an innovative, cost-effective effort EPA undertook to handle a complex challenge.  Clearing Secondhand Smoke – which helped children and families and everyone else live healthier lives.  Vehicle Efficiency and Emissions Control – thanks to EPA, cars today are far cleaner than they were a generation ago.  Controlling Toxic Substances – a critical children’s health issue.  Banning Widespread Use of DDT – the subject of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring; a chemical that was reported to be in nearly every meal in America; a toxin that almost wiped out our national symbol, the bald eagle; banned because of EPA’s efforts.  Rethinking Waste as Materials – an effort that continues to grow in both utility and importance, especially as we deal more and more with electronic wastes.  A Clean Environment for All/Environmental Justice – an issue that ensures we are reaching every single community, helping them see their stake in a clean environment, and empowering them to get there.  Cleaner Water – something every American holds dear and one of the places where EPA touches our daily lives the most.  And The “Community Right to Know” Act – an essential part of the work we do.

At 40 years old, EPA should be ready to perform at a higher level than ever before. The future of this agency is in all of you – those who make an extraordinary difference, day in and day out. I am proud to be with you today, and to come to work by your side every day. Thank you very much. Happy 40th anniversary.

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