In a recent Question & Answer with Grist.org, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson touched on some important issues for environmental managers and researchers.
In speaking about the current political climate surrounding the EPA’s efforts to update air regulations (including air emissions from coal-fired power plants and the recent uncertainty surrounding the Boiler MACT regulation), Jackson underscored how real environmental data can help manufacturers move beyond the environment versus economy debate:
“America as a consumer-oriented country is seeing real choices for the first time in using less energy. That’s very good for the American pocketbook. There’s simply no reason why American cars can’t be efficient and still be cool and be a part of what drives our economy. And if you want proof of that, look at what’s happening right now in Detroit. I have conversations all the time with young people, and they’re not feeling like they’re losing anything by the fact that they’ll be able to have choices and much more fuel-efficient cars should they choose to buy them. […]
That will make our country stronger and create jobs as well. We should not put all our eggs in any one basket. And we should not, just because we have it, assume that means we should use fuels as though we have it — because energy independence requires a certain reduced demand. We saw reduction in demand for gasoline, refined oil, this year, and part of the reason is that Americans have a choice to buy cars and trucks that use less of it. And that’s good for our economy.”
Jackson’s sentiment equally applies to most North American manufacturers as well. Implementing more environmentally responsible suppliers and investing in renewable energy sources are one of the most effective methods of reducing your operating costs.
However, most environmental managers have a difficult time getting executive buy-in for these types of projects without having environmental and financial data to back them up.
That’s why it is so important for EH&S teams to have a reliable method for tracking data, otherwise many of the potential benefits can get compromised.
Jackson also ends the interview by emphasizing the EPA’s commitment to “sensible, sot effective steps” that help both the environmental and the economy, a message that manufacturers cannot hear often enough.
You can read the entire Q&A here, including an introductory article on Jackson’s term so far as EPA Administrator here.