The Environmental Technology Initiative (ETI) strategically focuses on reducing federal and state, policy and regulatory barriers impeding the development and use of technologies that prevent pollution and reduce environmental and health risks. The objective of the ETI is to fix the environmental policy framework that now thwarts the innovation and use of new technologies. Reinventing our environmental policy framework is vital to a healthy economy and environment. We need a policy framework that will reward, not penalize, efforts to develop and use innovative environmental technologies.
The permitting and process streamlining activities under the Environmental Technology Initiative can reduce regulatory compliance costs by $700,000,000 or more throughout the economy, making the Initiative an example of a "win-win" for both the regulated community and technology entrepreneurs -- cutting the cost of meeting and in many cases, exceeding environmental standards, while improving productivity and market share.
Numerous small businesses are looking to the Environmental Technology Initiative to support pilot efforts that allow them to prevent pollution and improve productivity in metal finishing, printing, dry cleaning, electronics and other economic sectors. Many of the more than 50,000 technology development firms nationwide are looking to EPA and state agencies to approve the use of their latest inventions in environmental permits, compliance agreements and as acceptable solutions to enforcement problems. More than 4,000 Initiative stakeholders have commented that they want the federal government to support technology verification projects -- so that both regulators and technology users have objective, credible data to approve the use of better technologies. Once their technologies are approved by regulatory agencies, these firms have demonstrated that they can generate new jobs and dramatically increase the environmental results that their customers can achieve.
The Global Climate Change research and technology programs aim to reduce levels of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, etc.) from being emitted and to advance understanding of the relationship between source emissions and atmospheric warming. EPA's Energy STAR program provides large and small businesses and home owners cost-saving approaches to become profitably more energy-efficient, while reducing greenhouse emissions. Promoting the use of energy-conserving computers and lighting have substantially reduced air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities. Through this voluntary, non-subsidized program, more than 17 million metric tons of carbon emissions will be reduced. Lost emission reductions (due to no more funding) will need to be replaced by alternative emission controls. Cutting programs like Energy STAR, which cost-effectively address high-risk health and ecological threats is inconsistent with other Congressional directives. Congress has repeatedly directed EPA to base budget priorities on risk, most recently endorsed by the National Academy of Public Administration in its April, 1995 report, "Setting Priorities, Getting Results".
The Superfund research program is designed to reduce the cost of this multi-billion dollar program clean-up abandoned hazardous waste sites, increase the pace of cleanups and address health risks perceived as threatening by the public. Involved is a mix of health and environmental risk research, site assessments, cleanup technology development and evaluation, and direct technical assistance to field site management personnel. The House Appropriations bill cuts FY 96 research spending by 80%. While some in-house technical assistance work will continue, most of the program will be terminated, including the following:
Bioremediation R&D: In 8 years, this program has fostered the use of technologies producing 90% cost savings compared to conventional technologies;
Cleaning up contaminated sites: Removing nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) is the most serious technological problem associated with the Superfund program. The cuts will terminate comparative evaluation of nine promising technologies at Hill Air Force Base.
Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE) Program: SITE has field evaluated 84 technologies leading to routine acceptance of many new, more cost-effective technologies including soil vapor extraction (SVE) and thermal desorption. Use of innovative technologies has risen to 55% of cleanups, saving about 20% per site as compared to conventional technologies. More than $500,000,000 in site clean-up costs have been cut by this program.