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January 30, 2003

Council members highlight 'best practices' in water conservation at EPA conference

Representatives of three Business Council members recently discussed their innovative efforts to reduce water use at a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in New York City.

Officials from Nucor Steel, IBM, and Dresser Rand were featured presenters in a session called "Best Practices in Water Conservation," which was part of a members' roundtable EPA sponsored for participants in its National Environmental Performance Track. The event took place Oct. 30.

The session was a forum for members, business groups, states, and EPA officials to network, exchange ideas, receive recognition for environmental accomplishments, and provide input on the direction of the program.

Performance Track is a voluntary partnership in which the EPA rewards both public and private facilities that consistently exceed regulatory requirements, work closely with their communities, and excel in protecting the environment and public health.

Regional Administrator Jane Kenny welcomed the 40 participants to the region and presented new member program certificates to American Ref-Fuel in Hempstead and to two New Jersey companies.

Kenny also applauded the performance of the region's participants, which combined in 2001 to reduce their hazardous-waste generation by 20 million pounds and reduce water use by 100 million gallons.

Expanding the program is one of Kenny's goals for the region in the coming year. She noted that 42 of the nearly 300 Performance Track facilities nationwide are from Region 2.

"That's pretty good percentage-wise, but not nearly as many as I know we can attract," Kenny said. "With more members, we will be doing more good for the environment. Just as important, your facilities will gain from the good ideas and perspectives of a larger pool of members."

Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and manufacturing programs for The Business Council, discussed ways to expand outreach to the business community and leverage top management support from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC is an active player in the program but has not yet offered low-priority inspection status to New York's 14 Performance Track members. EPA expects DEC to consider extending federal program benefits to states' members in the future as more facilities join the program and communicate the value of membership to DEC.

Companies interested in improving the return on their environmental performance may apply to EPA's Performance Track between Feb. 1-April 30. By participating in this program, more than 300 businesses earn recognition as leaders in environmental responsibility.

Application information and a membership directory are at www.epa.gov/performancetrack. For information, contact Marcia Seidner, regional program director, at 212/637-3584 or seidner.marcia@epa.gov.