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Government Agencies to Increase Use of Voluntary Standards for Environmental Protection

ANSI Receives $50K EPA Grant to Develop Guidance Materials for Federal, State and Local Officials

New York, Oct 23, 2002

"There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew," once remarked Marshall McLuhan1. His vision, calling for a cooperative and collaborative approach to environmental protection, is advanced by a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement of a $50,000 grant to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for the development of guidance materials that will encourage federal, state and local officials to use voluntary consensus standards to protect the environment.

The formation of the EPA in July of 1970 was the first synchronized action taken by the U.S. government to make a coordinated attack on the pollutants that harm human health and degrade the environment. Since that time, federal, state and local government agencies have taken the leading role in developing and promulgating rules to advance environmental protection objectives. However, a major shift occurred four years ago, on September 14, 1998, when President Clinton signed Executive Order 13101, "Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition." Specifically, this EO encourages Federal agencies to identify and purchase environmentally preferable products and services and, in particular, encourages Federal agencies to use third party, non-governmental standards-setting organizations to identify environmentally preferable products and services. [This is also in line with the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, which encourages federal agencies to rely upon non-governmental standards as an alternative to agency-developed regulations.]

With increasing recognition that voluntary standards equip the government with sound technical solutions to safety and health problems without creating additional cost and operations burdens, the EPA is relying more heavily on the private-sector led voluntary consensus standards community to develop guidance documents and principles for use in making decisions on the procurement of goods and services that are environmentally preferable. One pilot program already underway within the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics has promoted the use of five voluntary consensus standards to promote environmentally preferable purchasing. A second project culminated with an announcement2 earlier today that the agency has updated its references to voluntary standards in several of its key drinking water regulations.

The latest action, an EPA grant approved on September 26, calls on ANSI to develop both guidance documents and specialized training for agency staff and a guide that will assist Federal, State and local officials in participating in standards development, to make sure that life-cycle environmental and economic issues are considered in the development process. The contract calls for all work to be completed by August 30, 2003.

Mark Hurwitz, ANSI President and CEO welcomed the award, saying, "This grant is further proof of our expanding partnership with the federal government, as it becomes clear that standards are a useful means of helping agencies accomplish key policy objectives that benefit the American public."

Dr. Mary McKiel, EPA's Standards Executive and a vice-chair of ANSI's Board of Directors, was pleased that EPA is taking this step. "The grant will allow ANSI to get to know the procurement standards needs of government better, and the work produced will nicely compliment the Agency's own internal policies and guides on how EPA staff members participate in both national and international standards development."

The work plans for this project supports several initiatives of the U.S. National Standards Strategy, and complements the other work that ANSI, its members and accredited standards developers are doing in these areas. "We are very pleased to have the EPA recognize ANSI's expertise, and to have EPA as a partner in reaching out to state and local officials to encourage their involvement in standards development," added Dr. Hurwitz.

"This grant is the latest in a series of significant accomplishments related to enhanced private- and public-sector cooperation," added David Karmol, ANSI director of public policy and government affairs. "ANSI intends to be responsive to all appropriate opportunities to assist other agencies interested in expanding the use of standards to meet their missions."


1 Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a former director of the Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.

2 Federal Register (Vol. 67/No. 205 / Wednesday, October 23, 2002 / Rules and Regulations) 40 CFR Parts 136, 141 and 143 Guidelines Establishing Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants Under the Clean Water Act; National Primary Drinking Water Regulations; and National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations; methods Update; Final Rule

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