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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462


For Release:

January 6, 2000

Contact:

Gail Mastrati, DEM, 222-4700 ext. 2402
Peyton Fleming, EPA, 617-918-1008

DEM AND EPA SIGN PERFORMANCE PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT; JOHN DEVILLARS IS SALUTED AS OUTGOING EPA ADMINISTRATOR

PROVIDENCE - Jan Reitsma, Director of the Department of Environmental Management, and John DeVillars, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today signed a two-year performance partnership agreement between the agencies that governs DEM's use of EPA funds and commits both agencies to a series of specific actions aimed at achieving key environmental goals and objectives.

The 120-page agreement is a landmark document in that it encompasses DEM's and EPA's detailed workplans for 2000 and 2001 and thereby offers an improved means for measuring performance.

After signing the agreement, DeVillars presented Reitsma with a $2.2 million check, the first installment of the expected $9.6 million in total EPA funding for projects included in the two-year agreement.

A farewell tribute to DeVillars was held immediately following the signing ceremony, at the Rhode Island Foundation in Union Station, in Providence. DeVillars has served as EPA New England Administrator since January 1994, and is leaving his post at the end of this week to join the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to pursue an environmental business venture involving brownfields redevelopment projects. The signing ceremony was one of DeVillars' last official acts as EPA's New England Administrator.

Reitsma said, "Under John DeVillars' leadership, EPA has worked cooperatively with DEM on a number of major environmental issues, such as brownfields redevelopment; watershed management, including the Greenwich Bay initiative and the Stafford Pond restoration project; our federal no discharge designation; growth management; and pollution prevention. The agreement we are signing today will enable EPA and DEM to further strengthen our working relationship by targeting our combined resources on these and other strategic priorities over the next two years."

"The agreement was developed through a long and thoughtful process that included public input," Reitsma added. "It reflects a progressive approach to environmental protection and management in that it integrates what traditionally have been separate and distinct agency programs into a coordinated environmental strategy."

"Today's agreement marks a new stage in the partnership between EPA and the State of Rhode Island," DeVillars said. "For the first time, both DEM and EPA have committed to common plans for reaching environmental goals, and set clear environmental targets so we can be held accountable for reaching them. The environment, as well as the citizens of Rhode Island, will benefit by this partnership."

Examples of specific, measurable goals set forth in the both agencies' workplans include:

    • Reducing the rates of lead poisoning in Rhode Island's urban neighborhoods.
    • Increasing the number of acres of shellfish beds that are open in the lower portion of upper Narragansett Bay.
    • Increasing the acreage and quality of critical habitats in the state.

Although this is the fourth Performance Partnership Agreement between EPA and DEM, this year's agreement includes a number of firsts:

    • It is the first that consolidates 13 EPA-funded DEM programs into a single grant.
    • It is the first agreement that covers two years.
    • It is the first agreement that includes parallel DEM and EPA work plans, which set forth specific dates and target numbers for environmental performance measures.
    • It is the first that will use performance measures in quarterly evaluations to assess progress.

The agreement also provides DEM with increased flexibility in targeting priority issues and in allocating resources for various programs.


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