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Release Date: 2/12/96
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The United States has been a leader in environmental programs for the past 25 years and "is entering a new phase in the evolution of environmental protection, one that emphasizes the positive relationship between a healthy environment and a prosperous economy," according to a new report by the independent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which comprises the United States and 25 other industrial nations.

"There is no evidence that the (U.S.) economy has been adversely affected as a whole by strong environmental protection policies," the report says. It also cites the growing international market in environmental goods and services and the range of new, cost-effective approaches to environmental protection underway throughout the country, such as EPA's Common Sense Initiative and other industrygovernment voluntary programs.

Certain U.S. practices and policies are cited as exemplary, such as environmental impact assessment, public participation, access to environmental information and right-to-know policies, strong compliance and enforcement, emissions trading, sound science as the basis for decision making and international environmental leadership.

"The OECD reaffirms our belief that we can protect the environment and public health in ways that make both economic and environmental sense," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "We must move forward with our common-sense, cost effective efforts to protect the environment, and maintain our international leadership."

The OECD, an independent Paris-based entity, has conducted similar reviews in Germany, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Netherlands, Austria and Canada. The U.S. review, conducted throughout the country, was based on an examination of documents as well as meetings with more than 400 individuals from federal, state and local governments, industry, nongovernment organizations, labor unions and academic institutions. The findings address environmental management in the United States since 1970 including achievements in pollution control, ecosystem management, integration of economic and environmental concerns, and US involvement in North American and global environmental affairs.

While citing the U.S. as a large generator of waste, the report says, "The U.S. has established responsible and realistic goals for waste management and is implementing them vigorously."

The report also notes that natural resources such as water and energy are underpriced and thus overused, and recommends a review of government financial assistance for sewerage, waste water treatment and irrigation, and grazing on public lands in light of the polluter pays principle and the user pays principle.

Other recommendations for environmental policy changes in the United States include: The streamlining of the U.S. regulatory system; more performance-based programs while simultaneously maintaining

environment and health standards; an alteration in the new-chemical notification system to include fewer substances with testing requirements; and for EPA to more thoroughly assess existing chemicals that are used in high volume.

A fact sheet on the 275-page report is available by calling 202- 260-1383. Limited copies of the report are available to the media by calling 202-260-1383. Copies also are available from the OECD

bookstore in Washington, D.C. 202-785-6323.

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