Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say a few words as we begin this hearing.
I would like to thank Administrator Leavitt for being here this morning to present the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, thank you for the leadership and vision that you bring to the EPA. I am confident that under your guidance, this agency is in good hands to address the challenges facing the nation.
I think that our country has come a long way in improving our environment. From what we hear from critics and extremist interest groups, it would be easy to believe that the environment is getting worse. In truth, a recent EPA report showed that over the last 30 years, as our economy grew over 164%, we have reduced the aggregate emissions of the six principal pollutants by almost half. Under the President’s administration, we have seen cleaner air and safer water for all of us, which is our collective goal.
That said, there is still much work to be done. I look forward to working with Texans, with my colleagues, and with you and your team at EPA on proposals that will ensure a cleaner environment, prevent unnecessary burdens on industry and the economy, and find reasonable solutions that are based on solid and tested science.