By Bob Perciasepe, Acting Administrator
This week is Public Service Recognition week, and as acting administrator at EPA, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary public servants I work alongside every day. Public service is a high calling. I know how keenly aware my colleagues are of the service they provide every day to our country. They are answering the call to duty and heeding the words of President Kennedy, “Ask what you can do for your country.”
Thanks to the hard work of the men and women who serve at EPA, the Agency has helped cut pollution and improve health benefits at a record level, while delivering more assistance and making more investments to help businesses and state and local governments meet health standards. In the 43 years since the EPA opened its doors, the American population has grown by more than 50 percent. During the same time frame, we have cut harmful air pollution by more than half. And as our country’s air, water and land have become cleaner, we have also seen our national gross domestic product (GDP) grow more than 200 percent since 1970.
We’ve developed and supported the most efficient and effective environmental enforcement programs in our history. We’ve advanced our science and our approaches to testing chemicals – and met challenges like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Sandy and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by helping to keep those regions clean and the people there safe and healthy. We’ve expanded our partnerships with local communities and tribal nations, and consequently, we’ve been able to target our resources more effectively to address the most pressing environmental problems they face. And we’ve doubled down on our own commitment to sustainability by dramatically cutting the Agency’s overall energy use, reducing our water use, and slashing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 80 percent. That’s the equivalent of taking 21,700 cars off the road or planting more than 2.7 million trees.
EPA employees have also found innovative and unprecedented ways to address the complex environmental challenges – and tight budgets – Americans face today. For example, in 2011, EPA announced a new water technology innovation cluster in Cincinnati, a public/private partnership to develop and commercialize technologies to solve water quality challenges, encourage sustainable economic development and create jobs. Last year EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance announced the public release of an online mapping tool called NEPAssist to help make federal agencies conduct environmental reviews and project planning more efficiently and more effectively. And just recently EPA launched the Green Button on our Home Energy Yardstick. Now American homeowners can measure – and improve – their home’s energy efficiency using this free online energy-assessment tool.
This is exciting work, and you don’t have to take my word for it: Last week the Partnership for Public Service ranked EPA as third in innovation among large federal agencies, according to a survey they conducted of federal employees. In the many ways they contribute to EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment, my colleagues are remarkable public servants. I’m proud to work with them, and this week, to celebrate them.
About the author: Bob Perciasepe is Acting Administrator of the U.S. EPA.