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Release Date: 03/19/2001
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Dave Ryan, EPA Media Relations, 202-564-7827
Bill Omohundro, EPA Region 5, 312-353-8254

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman came to Cleveland today to help kick off a pilot project to cut health risks from toxic air pollutants and to tour a model "green house" designed to help families conserve energy.

"The innovative, revolutionary project we are highlighting here today may save countless lives threatened by cancer or other serious illnesses caused by air toxins," said Whitman. "I called this program revolutionary because it truly breaks new ground in environmental protection. If this is successful, we'd like to expand it across the country."

Whitman spoke about the pilot project at Holy Name Elementary School, along with Sen. George V. Voinovich, Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White, and City Council Members Edward W. Rybka and Joe Cimperman.

EPA, in cooperation with the city and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, has begun to form a group comprised of interested residents, businesses, industry, environmental organizations and city personnel to assess and reduce air toxics in Cleveland. The project is a non-regulatory, voluntary effort to look at risks generated by outdoor sources like cars, and indoor sources like cleaning agents and pesticides in homes, schools and businesses. It will be a partnership designed by stakeholders, not by government.

"President Bush pledged he would bring his Administration together with concerned citizens, community leaders, businesses and industries to begin transforming the way we achieve our goal of a cleaner, safer environment. This project exemplifies that goal," said Whitman.

EPA chose Cleveland for the project because it is centrally located and has typical levels of air toxics for a mid-sized city.

Whitman also toured GreenBuilt Homes (GBH) a prototype model "green house," the first such house in northeast Ohio. GBH, a Cleveland company, and the Slavic Development Corporation designed a 2,200 square-foot home that has environmentally friendly building materials. The house bears the EPA's Energy Star logo and the American Lung Association's Healthy House logo. The house requires only 27,000 British thermal units (BTUs) for heating instead of the 100,000 BTUs for a standard construction. This can mean annual heating costs of $300 instead of a more usual $1,200 heating bill.

Whitman commented that she had high hopes for both the "green house" and the innovative air toxics project to serve as excellent investments in a better environment for all– particularly children.

In a nod to President Bush's plan for tax relief, Whitman said President Bush is also fighting to improve the lives of our children by helping parents provide for their children's future. She said the President's much-needed tax relief package just passed the House of Representatives. "I was pleased that 12 Ohio members of Congress supported the President's plan. If passed by the Senate, the typical family of four in Cleveland will save $1,600 a year of their own money–that is almost a 50 percent cut in their taxes."

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