HAZWASTES: Increased Pollution Prevention Pushed With Technology

In an effort to translate U.S. en-vironmental regulations into a plus for the economy, the Clinton Ad-ministration has unveiled a strategy for increasing overseas sales of technologies that monitor, control or prevent pollution. A plan developed by the Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA) and Depart-ments of Commerce (DOC) and Energy aims to improve federal support for environmental technology exports and remove domestic and international obstacles.

The agencies plan to establish an Environmental Trade Advisory Committee to help U.S. firms in marketing their products abroad through providing guidance for exporters. The groups will identify markets and focus promotion activities on markets with potentially high, immediate returns.

The federal government also will establish regional centers to collect environmental technology information; put environmental technology specialists in key U.S. trade positions overseas; establish a Latin American environmental initiative to expand export opportunities in Mexico and Latin America; and in-crease export financing for environmental firms.

Developing technology that is needed elsewhere is essential to any effort to increase environmental technology exports, EPA Ad-ministrator Carol Browner pointed out. Toward that end, she said, "We need to ensure that our own environmental standards keep pace with our competitors or exceed them - so that we can continue to build a domestic enviro-tech industry that is second to none."

Accordingly, she said, policies must be crafted to create a demand for environmental technologies. Businesses must be rewarded for preventing pollution, not just cleaning it up, she noted, and regulations must widen the range of technologies that businesses can use to comply with the law.

To help vendors, Browner said EPA must increase the availability of sites and permits for testing new technologies; inform developers about new regulatory directions so they have time to get new technologies on the market; and reward users of innovative technologies.

The environmental technologies sector will be a major factor in U.S. economic growth into the 21st Century, according to Commerce Sec-retary Ronald Brown. "It is an industry that highlights the essence of American industrial ingenuity - developing technologies that help clean up and protect the global environment while creating thousands of high-skilled, high-wage jobs for American workers."

In this year's annual industrial outlook, the DOC predicts that shipments of environmental equipment will increase by about 4 percent. This figure assumes that the pollution abatement industry will benefit from federal spending to convert military sites and technology to civilian uses and that Eastern Europe will receive foreign funds to help clean environmental degradation. Overseas, DOC noted, more stringent anti-pollution regulations are being enacted and the resources are being committed to enforcement. Some of the largest growth areas over the next few years are expected to be in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, Mexico and Latin America.