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Chapter 8 - Growing Green Business

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Earth Day 2000

Growing Green Business

Photo: Al Gore Speaking in front of Energy Efficient Automobiles
"For my entire career, I have believed very deeply that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. These past seven years, our Administration has proven it: our economy is booming, with nearly 20 million new jobs. And our air and water are cleaner and healthier than they have been in decades."
Vice President Al Gore
November 16, 1999
Photo: Washington, D.C., March, 2000










One of the most important lessons of the past quarter-century is that environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand. Indeed, efforts to restore and protect the environment have spawned tremendous new economic opportunity for Americans, with the promise of continued growth in the years ahead.

Today the environmental industry — which includes companies involved in cleanup, recycling, and renewable energy — employs nearly 1.4 million Americans and generates annual revenues of more than $185 billion. Exports of environmental goods and services reached $20 billion last year and continue to rise. In both employment and revenue, the environmental sector surpasses many other well-known industries, including aerospace, petroleum refining, and steel.

The Clinton-Gore Administration has launched many successful initiatives to help grow green businesses in the United States and to promote the export of U.S. technology and expertise overseas.

Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles

In 1993, President Clinton and Vice President Gore, joined by the chief executives of the Big Three automakers, launched an innovative research partnership to develop the next generation of cars and light-duty trucks.

Federal laboratories are collaborating with Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and with the goal of developing cars with up to triple the fuel efficiency of today's midsize models — with no sacrifice in safety, affordability or performance. Achieving this goal will enhance America's competitiveness, strengthen its energy security by reducing reliance on imported oil, and achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

In a major milestone, the three automakers recently unveiled concept cars with hybrid technologies that achieve the 80-mile-per-gallon goal. Last month, the automakers also announced plans to begin marketing higher-efficiency vehicles that incorporate PNGV technology in the next three to four years.

Promoting Organic Agriculture

In recent years, organic farming has grown from a handful of experimental garden plots to a $6 billion-a-year industry. Today more than 12,000 American farmers, most of them small-scale producers, practice organic agriculture.

To support this growing industry and strengthen consumer confidence, the Administration recently proposed a uniform national standard for labeling organic food. The proposal, slated for final action later this year, details the practices and substances that can be used to produce crops and livestock labeled as "organic"; prohibits the use of genetic engineering, sewage sludge, and irradiation in the production of organic food; and prohibits antibiotics in organic livestock production.

A uniform national standard will ensure that consumers across the country can go into any store and have full confidence that any food product labeled "organic" meets a strict, consistent standard no matter where it was made. It also will make it easier for organic growers to market their products overseas.

Supporting Green Technologies

Chart: Environmental Industry Employment
Environmental Industries include 59,000 companies engaged in activities including waste management, engineering and consulting, recycling, water utilities and treatment, environmental remediation, and renewable energy. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1999 Environmental Business International, Inc., San Diego, CA.


In 1995, Vice President Gore launched a National Environmental Technology Strategy to strengthen partnerships with the environmental business community and to expand the federal government's role in spurring innovation and growth in the industry. Key priorities include reducing regulatory and market barriers to innovation; creating better ways to verify the environmental performance of new technologies; and ensuring adequate investment capital to bring promising technologies to market.

Among the initiatives launched by the Administration are the Interagency Environmental Technology Office, a one-stop-shop that connects about 400 businesses a year with federal programs and works with state environmental business councils; and a five-year, $37 million Environmental Technology Verification program to help provide third-party verification of the performance of environmental technologies.

Building Environmental Exports

Chart: Environmental Industry Exports Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1999 Environmental Business International, Inc., San Diego, CA.
The fastest-growing market for environmental technology is overseas, where rising prosperity and population in developing countries is creating enormous demand for the technology and expertise needed to achieve and maintain cleaner air, cleaner water and other environmental benefits.

U.S. exports of environmental goods and services have more than doubled since 1993, thanks in part to programs launched by the Administration, including:

  • An Environmental Directorate established at the Export-Import Bank in 1994 provides loans and loan guarantees to exporters of environmental technologies. Between 1995 and 1998, the bank provided support to an average of 50 companies a year.
  • A new Environmental Technologies Export Office at the Department of Commerce helps U.S. businesses identify export opportunities, conducts trade promotion activities, and promotes policies to increase free and fair trade in the environmental sector.
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps U.S. businesses tap newly emerging markets by funding feasibility studies, technical assistance, reverse trade missions, and conferences. Last year, the agency provided assistance in 65 nations around the world.

The Greening of Small Business

Much of the growth in the environmental industry has occurred among small- and medium-sized firms. Programs at the Small Business Administration that support smaller environmental firms, and help other small businesses improve their environmental performance, include:

  • The HUBZone program, which helps minority- and women-owned businesses compete for federal contracts, certifies firms that can perform environmental engineering and construction.
  • The Small Business Investment Company, which provides venture capital for small businesses, has invested more than $10 million in green businesses over the past two years.
  • The Small Business Development Center Program conducts workshops and seminars on hazardous waste management, waste reduction and recycling, and pollution prevention.
  • The Small Business Compliance Alliance Project helps small businesses comply with environmental regulations.

Meeting the Recycling Challenge

America's recycling rate is the highest in the world. Thanks to increased recycling, the U.S. will generate less net waste this year than it did in 1992, and about the same as it did in 1980, when there were almost 50 million fewer people. The Administration's Jobs Through Recycling program has helped 3,200 recycling businesses and entrepreneurs create 8,500 jobs and new recycling technologies.

To achieve even greater gains, Vice President Gore launched the National Recycling Challenge in 1998, calling on government, the business community, universities, and others to commit to increased recycling. The dozens of major commitments made so far include:

  • Sony Electronics committed to opening a recycling center at its Pittsburgh technology center to recover valuable resources from waste electronic scrap. Glass recovered from old televisions and computer monitors will be used in the manufacture of new cathode ray tubes.
  • IBM developed technologies to use recovered plastics to manufacture new products, including the first personal computer using 100 percent recycled resin for all major plastic parts in the central processing unit.
  • Ford Motor Company committed to developing new technologies to recycle a variety of recovered materials in the manufacture of new vehicles. The company set an annual goal of using more than 100 million pounds of recycled plastic, rubber, fabric, glass, wood, and paper in new vehicle components by 2002.

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CEQ Earth Day 2000 Report

History of Earth Day

Preserving America's Natural Treasures

Clean Air, Safe Water, Healthy Communities

Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming

Chapter 4 - Protecting Our Precious Wildlife

Building Sustainable Communities

Safeguarding Our Oceans and Coasts

Protecting the Global Environment

Growing Green Business

Greening the Government

Enforcing Our Nation's Environmental Laws

The Challenges Ahead

Ten Communities: Profiles in Environmental Progress

Environmental Actions by President Clinton and Vice President Gore