The Environment

"These partnerships are based on a shared vision of
environmental protection that is based on trust,
respect, and a commitment to changing the way we do
business. These grants are one of the top 25[environmental]
initiatives for reinventing government that
President Clinton announced last March 17 [1995]"
- EPA Administrator Carol Browner(9)
Last May, EPA signed the first performance partnership grant agreements with Colorado and Utah. Through negotiation, EPA and states agree upon broad goals and priorities to achieve better environmental outcomes. The new, one-step grants replace up to 16 separate agreements the states used to have to negotiate and allow the states to shift money as priorities change, without time-consuming appeals to EPA. Gone are the 16 separate reports; there is just one report under the partnership grant. It is just the kind of change in government that we envisioned in the title of the first National Performance Review report: "From Red Tape to Results."

EPA is creating partnerships at the local level, too. When EPA became involved at a potential Superfund cleanup site in north Boulder, Colorado, several parties were entrenched in litigation about groundwater contamination. First, EPA informed the parties as to the potential risks involved in the status quo and then gave the community a chance to develop a solution before EPA put it on the Superfund list. Next, EPA invited all parties -- including citizens -- to accept some responsibility for resolving the disputes and cleaning up the water. Within six months, they had come up with a solution and a way to pay for it locally. This approach saved millions in federal dollars -- and saved the community from being immersed in the Superfund program for the next decade.

EPA, Energy, and other federal agencies, along with 22 state environmental agencies, have pioneered a successful partnering effort to improve the cleanup process for contaminated toxic sites. Together, these groups break down the barriers to using innovative environmental technologies for remediation and treatment of hazardous and radioactive wastes. Partnering has streamlined the regulatory process for environmental technologies and moved states and federal agencies toward results-oriented cleanup.

The Bureau of Land Management has created 24 resource advisory councils in the Western states to advise the Bureau on issues concerning management of the public's lands and resources. These councils, developed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, are made up of 12 to 15 members appointed by the Secretary of the Interior from among individuals nominated by the public and state governors. Three groups are represented on these councils: business; conservationists; and local citizens, including representatives of local government and Indian tribes. The councils have been very successful at bringing diverse -- and often competing -- interests to the table to deal with each other on issues of mutual concern. The approach shows great promise in successfully solving long-standing problems of public land management. Many individuals who were initially skeptical of the councils are now quite supportive of their work and are optimistic that they will be a strong force in resolving disputes about the uses of public land in the West.

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