STATEMENT OF SENATOR JON S. CORZINE
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
AUGUST 1, 2001
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for holding this hearing on the environmental and health impacts of the transportation sector.
Mr. Chairman, air pollution is a serious problem in New Jersey. Take ground-level ozone, known as smog, for example. As of July 29, nine areas in New Jersey had logged a total of 14 exceedances of the current “1-hour” standard for ozone this year. That number increases to 114 exceedences if you use the “8-hour” standard that will be phased in. So we continue to have a serious problem with smog in New Jersey, to say nothing of airborne toxics and other problems.
Mr. Chairman, although some of our air pollution comes from out of state, much of it is generated within our borders. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. It is also a major transportation corridor for traffic moving up and down the east coast. Put these factors together, and you have millions of cars and trucks moving along New Jersey roads each day. In 1999, more than 213 million vehicles traveled a total of more than 5 billion miles on the New Jersey Turnpike alone. So it’s clear that in spite of the progress we have made in cleaning up cars, a major part of the solution to New Jersey’s air pollution lies in the transportation sector.
And we have made progress, Mr. Chairman. I don’t want to minimize that fact. Today’s cars are 90 percent cleaner than in 1970. And we are poised to make further progress with the phase in of EPA’s so-called “Tier 2” standards beginning in 2004. These standards will result in cleaner cars and cleaner fuels, and will close the loophole that currently allows the increasingly popular sports utility vehicles to meet dramatically lower emissions standards than cars.
But in spite of our progress, many challenges remain. Emissions of carcinogenic air toxics, such as benzene, continue to be a problem. And emissions of carbon dioxide have continued to rise over the last thirty years, to the point where the American transportation sector accounts for about 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
So we need to continue to focus on ways to improve the environmental performance of our transportation system. With respect to climate change, I want to echo my colleagues in highlighting the findings released earlier this week by the National Research Council. This report concluded that there are cost-effective ways to increase vehicle fuel economy standards over the next 10 to 15 years without compromising performance or safety. Increasing fuel economy would reduce both greenhouse gases and our dependence on foreign oil. Congress should act on these findings and modify the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to require increases in fuel economy.
I think we also need to improve our mass transit systems. In New Jersey, we have two light rail projects that are just getting underway—the Hudson-Bergen rail and the Newark-Elizabeth rail. When these systems come on line, it will take cars off the road and reduce pollution. And I think it’s essential that we continue to invest in Amtrak.
Looking beyond the technologies of today, I am encouraged by the prospect of next-generation technologies such as fuel cells, that offer the potential for huge gains in energy efficiency and huge reductions in pollution. New Jersey companies are working hard to develop and commercialize these technologies. But I think the federal government should do what it can to speed the development of this promising technology.
With that, I conclude my remarks and look forward to the testimony of today’s witnesses.