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“National Standards, Neighborhood Solutions” Part of New EPA Administrator’s Approach to Agency

Washington, DC, Dec 04, 2003

On December 2, newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt outlined his vision for sound management of the United States’ natural assets as articulated in the Enlibra Doctrine, an approach to environmental stewardship co-authored by Leavitt and former Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon. First among this list of eight principles is “National Standards, Neighborhood Solutions,” aimed at assigning responsibilities at the right level. His speech to Agency employees in Washington, DC, and, by broadcast across the nation, came after three weeks of cross-agency introductions, discussions and briefings.

According to Leavitt, Enlibra (a word derived from Latin roots) means “to move toward balance.” “The philosophy emphasizes collaboration instead of polarization, national standards and neighborhood solutions, markets instead of mandates, solutions that transcend political boundaries, and other common sense ideas that will accelerate environmental progress.”

In his remarks, Leavitt emphasized the strong role of standards in the EPA’s approach. “I believe EPA needs to be in the standards business, not the prescriptions business. Environmental standards should be straightforward, clear and enforceable. When standards morph into ‘our way or the highway’ we lose the brilliant system of delegated powers and local innovation.”

Leavitt asserted that standards would depend on compliance to be effective. “Enforcement is a critical tool…. Without consistent and smart enforcement, an environmental standard becomes an empty vessel.”

Calling employees “the builders of a 21st century network and the keepers of a 30-year ethic,” Leavitt challenged the Agency to work faster, better and more collaboratively than has ever been done before.

“Our work carries an inherent duty to leave things better for the next generation,” Leavitt told employees. “That has always been a personal goal of mine, so we are – in the spirit of Enlibra – in balance.”

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