The issues of clean air, and energy policy are important to Delaware. In my state, which has urbanized areas as well as rural farming communities, it is important that we have both a clean environment and a reliable energy supply. Delaware has come a long way toward achieving this, but we still have work to do.
In Delaware, in-fact throughout the mid-Atlantic and northeast, we are still faced with a clean air problem. In states like New Jersey, New York, and Delaware we have been working hard over the past decade to clean up the air by reducing or controlling the emissions from the sources ranging from automobiles to factories to power plants within our state borders.
This is not just a state problem however; it is a regional, and national problem.
We need to be very smart about how we proceed on this. Last week, I had a chance to speak at a conference on energy policy
I told that group, and I'll repeat it today, we need to be broad-minded and very creative. The link between this nation's energy use and our air quality is not the question. The question is what do we do about it? Clearly, we need to both protect our air and also provide an abundant, reliable source of energy. We need to think about incentives as well as regulations. The toolbox will need to be diverse.
Delaware is an importer of energy. The major power plants in the state generate the majority of our electricity, mostly from coal, but still we must import electricity from states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey to meet demand. Thus, we need to have a dialogue with our neighbors to determine what we can do to allow for both a reliable energy supply, and clean air.
Last year, Delaware joined with the EPA and other eastern states in urging the Midwest power utilities to clean up their emissions. As others today have mentioned, those of us downwind from the Midwest utility plants are faced with trying to clean up the air in our states by controlling the emissions within our borders, while at the same time facing penalties for pollutants imported from other regions. We have to work together with states such as Ohio to achieve results, and I am ready to work with everyone here to find a solution. I was pleased to hear that recently the Supreme Court indicated that utilities need to abide by provisions of the Clean Air Act, but I recognize that this will be expensive and that the costs imposed on states and companies with older power plants will be significant. That being said, we must begin to find out how to address those costs, instead of how to avoid them.
Generation of electricity releases more than two thirds of the sulfur dioxide emitted, and close to half of U.S. carbon dioxide. The bottom line is that we are accustomed to burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and as long as we burn fossil fuels, we will have to be mindful of the impacts on air quality. Through application of various technologies, we've probably done the easy part in cleaning up the majority of pollutants. Further progress will be difficult. But we must keep moving. I look forward to today's discussions, and to working with my colleagues this Congress on this issue.