With this in mind, I would like to make two points today.
First, I want to say very clearly and strongly that EPA clean air standards must continue to be based on science and health concerns.
The EPA proposal before us is based on the best available science regarding the health effects of exposure to ozone and particulate matter. Some argue that we should not set a new standard until we have scientific proof of the exact relationship between exposures to ozone and particulate matter, and health effects. If we had applied that principle in the late 1970?s, we would not be enjoying the benefit of our current standards -- which have led to, for example, air pollution from carbon monoxide being reduced by 28 percent, from sulphur dioxide 41 percent, and from lead 98 percent.
We must continue medical research to improve our understanding. We clearly need more monitoring data on particulate matter. But this should not make us lose our focus on the need to continue making progress and further protect the public health -- especially our children.
Young children constitute the largest group at high risk from exposure to air pollutants. They breath 50% more air by body weight than the average adult. In California alone there are over six million children under the age of fourteen and approximately ninety percent of them live in areas that fail to meet state and federal standards.
The second point I want to make, is the importance of taking costs into account once the health-based standards are set. Costs should and will play a key role in how the standard will be implemented and how long states will have to comply.
In Califorina, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is responsible for cleaning up the L.A. basin, which has the most polluted air in the country. The South Coast Air District faces some of the most intractable and complex air pollution problems, in an area where nearly every possible source is already regulated. Yet the District supports the EPA proposal. Why? Because they believe that more stringent standards can be met as long as technology continues to develop, and the state is given sufficient time to develop an implementation plan that is cost effective.
Mr. Chairman, I think we need to continue to listen to all sides in this debate before we make a final judgement. I am confident that EPA will seriously consider each one of the thousands of public comments it has received before making a final proposal.
Lastly, I want to welcome Pat Leyden, the Deputy Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District who will testi~ in the second panel. I think she makes key points in her testimony about the effectiveness of market based strategies to reduce emissions -- in particular the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program.
I look forward to continued work with Committee members on this important issue.