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Ag secretary, EPA at American University tech market

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary John Bryson at a technology market summit at American University in Washington to promote the development and adoption of American-made technologies to achieve economic growth through environmental protection.

Vilsack said he foresees “a tremendous expansion in biobased companies” and added that American agriculture stands ready to provide the raw materials these companies use. He also noted that USDA has developed five virtual research centers to broaden renewable energy research.

Bryson noted that Commerce is focused daily on President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling exports in five years. “Every day is a day we could either succeed or not succeed,” he said. So far the goals are “on track,” he added. Bryson warned, however, that western Europe’s problems and Iran’s role in destabilizing the Middle East could pose challenges to export growth.

Kirk noted that the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement goes into effect on Tuesday and said that other free trade agreements have led to increases in exports of environmental technology.

Jackson said that events like the one at American University prove that people don’t have to choose between environmental protection and making money. “No credible economist” has blamed the recession on environmental protection, she said. Higher environmental standards have led to the catalytic converter, smokestack scrubbers and other technologies created by American manufacturers. EPA has an environmental export portal on its Website, she added.

Jackson also noted that she was happy to see American University hold the technology marketing event because she has been wondering, “What the hell am I going to do to make money after I leave EPA?”