In an effort to forge closer ties with regulated sectors of the economy, including the oil and natural gas industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revived a partnership program designed to foster dialogue on environmental issues.
The EPA’s Smart Sectors program, launched on Tuesday, is taking a "sector-based, collaborative approach" in considering ways to protect the environment.
"When we consider American business as a partner, as opposed to an adversary, we can achieve better environmental outcomes," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "The Smart Sectors program is designed to effectively engage business partners throughout the regulatory process.
"The previous administration created a narrative that you can't be pro-business and pro-environment. This program is one of the many ways we can address that false choice and work together to protect the environment. When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public and the environment all benefit."
The American Petroleum Institute’s Kyle Isakower, vice president for regulatory and economic policy, lauded the program.
"The oil and natural gas industry is a major economic engine supporting 10.3 million jobs, is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, and is a world leader in reducing carbon emissions from energy use which today are near 25-year lows," Isakower said. "We welcome this new partnership and look forward to working with the agency on this program to ensure that industry is doing all it can to protect the environment and support economic growth."
Smart Sectors would be part of the EPA's Office of Policy's Immediate Office and be used in the regional offices. Staff working on the program "will help address executive orders on regulatory reform, energy independence, permit streamlining, and the reconsideration of major regulations,” EPA said.
Besides oil and gas, the EPA’s Smart Sectors program initially would partner with 12 other industry sectors: aerospace, agriculture, automotive, cement/concrete, chemical manufacturing, construction, electronics/technology, forestry/wood products, iron/steel; mining, ports/marine, and utilities/power generation. Additional sectors may be added over time.
Previous collaborations between industry and the EPA date back to the 1990s, when the Clinton administration's platform to "reinvent government" created the Common Sense Initiative. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration launched a similar program, Sector Strategies, which ran until 2009, when it was discontinued.