Clinton urges climate action as headquarters is named in his honor

Source: Jason Plautz, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013

President Clinton today said efforts to bolster the world’s economy rest on a commitment to a “sustainable, green, shared future” at a ceremony that renamed U.S. EPA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in his honor.

“It’s not just that you can grow the economy and have a sustainable future,” he said. “It is the only way to do it.”

He spoke as the EPA building on Pennsylvania Avenue became the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building. Congress unanimously voted for the name change last December.

Clinton encouraged the White House and foreign governments to move ahead on clean energy and work to combat climate change, saying that finding a way to save the environment without undermining the economy is “what the whole 20th-century world is going to be about.” He also commended the Obama administration for moving forward on clean air standards by continuing work that had been done under his EPA.

The ceremony hailed the Clinton administration for protecting more than 4 million acres of public land, cleaning up 600 Superfund sites, creating EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and overseeing passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Clinton was also praised for his continued work on environmental and clean energy issues through the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton was joined at the ceremony by Carol Browner, who led EPA in his administration. Browner noted that the Clinton White House did the original legal analysis determining that the Clean Air Act gives the president the authority to set standards on carbon emissions, an assertion backed by the Supreme Court in its 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision and being used by President Obama to enact his climate plan.

“You have proven and are proving that real action on climate change is achievable and that cutting carbon can fuel economic opportunity, create jobs and improve our world,” Browner said. “We still don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.”

The building had formerly been named after Ariel Rios, an undercover agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who died in the line of duty. The reflection pool at the current ATF headquarters is being renamed in Rios’ honor.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was EPA air chief Gina McCarthy, who is set to become the next administrator of the agency pending a Senate vote. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Browner urged the Senate to move quickly on McCarthy’s nomination, which will come up after cloture votes and debate on two other executive nominees and could slip until next week.