Initiative to export more technology
NEW ORLEANS — In an effort to boost the export of environmental technology, federal representatives announced Monday a new U.S. Environmental Technologies Export Initiative.
An increase in the use of environmental technology and the export of that technology would benefit not only the environment but the U.S. economy as well, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told attendees at the Water Environment Federation conference in New Orleans.
For example, in 2010, the environmental technologies industry had $312 billion in revenue and employed 1.7 million people, which includes those working in 61,000 small businesses, Jackson told the audience of water-treatment professionals.
She and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez announced the launch of an online site called the Environmental Solutions Exporter Portal to help connect the environmental technologies industry with potential buyers around the world.
“If we lose the opportunity for investment, the capital you’re going to need for investment is going to dry up,” Jackson said.
As 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, she said, it’s helpful to look at what the country faced in the years before that act was passed in 1972.
The public didn’t know what pollution was flowing into waterways, two-thirds of the waterways in the country were unsafe for fishing and swimming, and Lake Erie was declared “dead,” Jackson said.
Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, millions of pounds of sewage, pollution and trash have been kept out of waterways, and two-thirds of the waterways in the country meet federal standards, she said.
“There’s a lot more to be done,” she said.
Although 92 percent of the people in the U.S. have access to clean drinking water, the other 8 percent do not have that guarantee, she said.
In addition, there are challenges to be faced in dealing with new contaminates as the technology advances to detect such pollution and in the need for updates for aging infrastructure such as water treatment plants, Jackson said.
As the world’s population continues to grow, she said, the need for better, more efficient ways to use and reuse water resources need to be found and implemented.
“I don’t want to see what I’m starting to see, which is municipalities saying we just can’t afford any of it,” Jackson said.