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Nutter Presents President’s Award to Jackson
EPA Announces New Partnership with Cities

By Judy Sheahan
January 28, 2013

Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter presented the outgoing Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson with the Conference of Mayors President’s Award on January 19 for her outstanding work in protecting the environment. Nutter highlighted the work that Jackson and her staff did on the issue of Clean Water mandates with a particular focus on Combined Sewer Overflow consent decrees which were costing local governments upwards to billions of dollars per community. “She listened to our concerns and what resulted was quite remarkable for a federal agency,” Nutter said. “EPA has issued a series of memos to the regional offices that will hopefully change the way it does business with local governments.”

During Jackson’s term as Administrator, the EPA has issued three memorandums aimed at helping local governments. The memos include: promoting the use of green infrastructure; creation of “Integrated Planning” that allows local governments to work with their regions to outline their infrastructure needs with their clean water mandates to best determine the approach to solve their most pressing environmental and health issues; and an “affordability dialogue” that EPA will be entering into with the Conference of Mayors and other local government organizations regarding the costs of water compliance.

“For the first time, EPA is taking a non'silo approach to solving a multi-faceted problem,” Nutter said. “While we still have a way to go, we applaud EPA and you, Administrator Jackson, for working closely with the mayors of this nation, listening to our concerns, and having the courage and tenacity to change the way EPA finds solutions.”

Accepting the award, Jackson talked about how important local governments were to protecting the environment and how EPA needs to work in partnership with local governments to continue to move forward “towards the many environmental goals we share.”

Jackson discussed the EPA memos on green infrastructure, integrated planning, and on affordability as a means of approaching the problem in a different way. “We’ve given up nothing [environmental protection] but I’ve given my staff a nudge to think harder about what cities are going through,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that cities approached her telling her that they need to make investments in water, wastewater, and stormwater issues and that they were willing to spend the money but they needed help with flexibility, prioritizing those investments, and enough time for implementation. “You can renegotiate to give yourself more time, and the new affordability dialogue will provide an opportunity to look at all the costs, to look at other factors including all water investments and determine if you are spending the right amount,” the Administrator said.

Jackson was hopeful that EPA will continue it works with local government as partners. “I believe we are on the right road, now we just have to make sure that as I walk out, and with your leadership, we can continue to be on the right road.”