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Top EPA official speaks in Sacramento

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks at the Cal/EPA building in Sacramento.

The nation’s top environmental official, Lisa Jackson, expressed her view in Sacramento on Monday that federal and state environmental regulations can help create demand for green businesses and technologies.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jackson spoke about environmental regulation and green jobs to an audience of more than 250 people at the Cal/EPA building downtown. She was the latest in a string of high-profile speakers brought into town to speak on behalf of “Greenwise,” Mayor Kevin Johnson’s environmental initiative.

Contrary to the views of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argues that businesses are stymied by many environmental regulations, Jackson said that regulations from EPA can help prod the formation of new green businesses. 

By cracking down on pollution through regulation, EPA pushes companies to consider the pollution that comes from products, she said.

“You have to demand ‘clean.’ And we do that through our regulations,” she said.

Jackson said she was confident that environmentally sound technologies and products can be created.

“So there’s no doubt in my mind, as an engineer, that once this country continues to demand clean, green, sustainable, environmentally just solutions, that we can and will develop and invent and commercialize the technologies to make it happen,” she said.

State and federal environmental regulations can provide “the push” necessary to build demand for green products, Jackson said.

Johnson, who also spoke at the event, issued another call for Sacramento to be a national front-runner with its environmental efforts. He said a green economy can benefit the region in two ways: “One, we could create jobs with the green economy, and we can improve our environment,” Johnson said.

Julia Burrows, the project manager for the Greenwise program, told the audience about the status of the program’s efforts.

She said the Greenwise team is forming a group to finance environmental retrofits at schools.

Greenwise is also forming a business leadership council “to advocate for policy and to work on the bottom line in the region,” she said.

In addition, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments is working on efforts to bring more electric vehicle charging stations to the region, she said.

Kim Smith of Sacramento said after the event that Jackson’s speech was the second Greenwise function she had attended. “I just think it was an honor to have her here,” Smith, a Cal/EPA employee, said. “She’s a real person, and I enjoyed her conversation.”

Smith said she was enthusiastic about the Greenwise program’s upcoming efforts.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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