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Release Date: 09/08/99
Contact Information:

        United States Communications, Education,
        Environmental Protection And Media Relations
        Agency (1703)

        Environmental News

In a move aimed at encouraging stewardship and improving environmental performance, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will set up a new system to reward businesses and other organizations that excel in environmental management. This action was one of 10 presented in a new EPA report entitled “Aiming for Excellence: Actions to Encourage Stewardship and Accelerate Environmental Progress.” As part of EPA’s continued efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of environmental programs, the report describes additional steps that EPA will be taking in the next 12 to 18 months to strengthen the nation’s environmental protection system.

“This is the next step for EPA in Vice President’s Gore’s efforts to reinvent government to make environmental protection work better and more cost-effectively for all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. “The actions announced in this report will build on the common-sense reforms already made and lay the groundwork for achieving greater environmental excellence in the 21st century."

The move to recognize those that excel is a major step towards creating a more performance-based environmental protection system. Under the nation’s environmental laws, regulated facilities are required to manage their operations according to federal environmental standards. When necessary, EPA can take enforcement action to assure that violations are corrected. However, EPA has not provided rewards for organizations that do more than required nor has the Agency routinely offered incentives that could encourage improvements in environmental performance. By offering such rewards and incentives, EPA hopes to foster an ethic of active environmental stewardship in companies and other regulated parties.

Because meeting basic compliance requirements is still the goal for many organizations, the Agency also committed to increasing its compliance assistance efforts. Specific actions include: releasing new compliance assistance guides or checklists for major new rules within 90 days of issuance so they are available before new
requirements take effect, and becoming a more effective distributer of compliance assistance information. This means giving organizations that routinely work with regulated facilities on compliance issues the tools and information they need to provide timely, helpful assistance.

In another move focused on boosting compliance, EPA will take steps to improve permitting processes. Based on permitting reforms tested through recent reinvention initiatives, the Agency will increase flexibility in meeting air permitting requirements. EPA also will focus on improving understanding of the waste water (NPDES) permitting process to improve the quality of applications and expedite regulatory review.

Other Agency actions will address environmental management challenges at the community level. In particular, the Agency will focus on developing new tools to address smart growth and livability issues.

Copies of the report can be obtained by calling the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 1-800-490-9198, or from EPA’s web page at

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