Remarks by Bob Stone, NPR Director
Environmental Protection Agency's Voluntary 33/50 Program
Award Ceremony

Washington, DC
September 11, 1996

Thank you. I appreciate the chance to be here. And, now I know what 33/50 really means. Because, over the last few hours, I think I've shaken 33 hundred and 50 hands.

The fact that there are so many of you to thank is testament to the success of this program; and how eager businesses are to be a part of the effort to protect the environment. But, a gathering like this would have been out of the question a few years ago. The idea of government and industry working as partners in environmental protection just wasn't in the cards. EPA and the business community saluting each other as partners? As if. We were more likely to see Al Gore doing the "macarena" on national TV.

But, lo and behold, here we are. The unthinkable is happening. Government is finally recognizing that there are an awful lot of civic-minded companies out there who want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's happening throughout government: in improving worker safety; in speeding new treatments for cancer and AIDS; in fighting the flow of drugs into the country; and in protecting the environment. We are seeing major changes in how government agencies carry out their missions. Like corporate America, they're focusing on results, not on red tape.

The 33/50 program is a great example of this new approach. It's been an important part of what the New York Times has called the "quiet revolution" in government. It's a revolution in which government is getting smarter and better by working with industries that it once treated as adversaries.

I'm not naive. I know that this hasn't happened everywhere. But, it is happening in some important places, and it's making a difference. Through 33/50, EPA and industry set goals for reducing chemical emissions, and, as partners, they -- or rather, you -- are achieving them. In fact, you're a year ahead of schedule. Time and money that used to be spent in courtrooms and on fighting counter-productive penalties are now going toward reaching the goal of a healthier environment. The results are real.

This partnership has kept 750 million pounds of emissions out the air we breathe -- that's 3 pounds for every man, woman and child in America. You're the partners who have produced this, and you deserve the credit.

As a small token of our appreciation, in a few minutes we'll be giving you one of these. These are Vice President Gore's "hammer" lapel pins, and he gives them to people who are breaking the old mold and making government work better and cost less. Clearly, you all are doing just that.

Normally, when I give out hammers on behalf of the Vice President, I'd call the recipients up on stage. There are two reasons I can't do that today. First, there is no stage. Second, we don't usually have these ceremonies where the entire audience is being recognized.

So, when I'm finished talking, I and a few of my colleagues -- your partners -- will come and give them to you. And we have certificates signed by the Vice President - go by the 33/50 booth and pick them up.

Wear your hammer proudly. And, if you find someone at EPA or within your company who's not with the program, you can use it to knock some sense into them.

Just kidding. Of course we don't condone the use of violence in reinventing government. But, we'll do just about anything else to get results. And, we're not the only ones saying that we are getting results. Next week, Vice President Gore will present President Clinton with his annual report on reinventing government.

In it, there are stories of people outside of Washington -- front line workers, businesspeople, average citizens, and local leaders -- who see the change, and are talking about it. They see a government that's turning course away from the old antagonistic model and toward a more efficient one that works better and costs less.

33/50 is one of the programs that is leading the way to that new government. To be fair, you had a head start on much of government. Susan Hazan told me earlier that the 33/50 idea was born in 1989. The first company to sign up was 3M in 1991. The program has grown exponentially with the Clinton-Gore Administration's commitment to partnership. And we're learning from what has worked. Because of what you've done - because you've proven that partners get better results than adversaries, we know to apply the lesson of partnership throughout the federal government. If you've watched TV news this week you've heard about the Vice President's Commission. Because of what you've done to enhance environmental security through partnership, he knew, with confidence that the number one way to enhance aviation security was partnership.

So we owe you our gratitude - and the traveling public owes you their gratitude for showing how to increase aeration security.

Vice President Gore is an environmentalist. You can't be around him for more than a few minutes without that coming through. But, from his work in reinventing government, he knows that partnerships are the best way to accomplish goals, and he's 100% committed to them. He knows that the best way to protect the environment is to do it together, as partners. That's why he's so proud of this program -- and why he asked me to shake 3350 hands tonight.

So, on behalf of Vice President Gore, congratulations to all of you who are making environmental partnerships work. For what you've done, and for what's yet to come. Thank you. NPR Home Page Search the NPR Site NPR Initiatives Site Index Calendar Comments Awards Links Tools Frequently Asked Questions Speeches News Releases Library Navigation Bar For NPR site