Thank you, Chairman Voinovich, for holding this hearing. I would like to thank you for your efforts and the efforts of your staff, especially Brian Mormino, in the drafting of this well crafted bipartisan legislation. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation. My comments will be brief as I have another committment.
In my state of Georgia 28 of 159 Counties, including Walker and Catoosa Counties in the mountains, through Metro Atlanta, and down to Muscogee County and the Metro Columbus area, are in non-attainment for particulate matter. 22 of 159 counties over the same geographic area are in non-attainment for ozone. In fact, about 60 percent of Georgia's population lives in a non-attainment area. We have impaired waters from high mercury levels and, in a state where we celebrate the outdoors, over half of Georgia’s lakes and rivers have mercury-based fish consumption advisories.
This legislation, which was drafted in cooperation with environmental, industry, and public officials, would establish voluntary national and state-level grant and loan programs to promote the reduction of diesel emissions. Passage of the provisions included in this bill would help communities, especially in my state of Georgia, attain the new air quality standards, significantly improving the environment and protecting public health.
I am hopeful the Congress will pass the provisions included in this legislation, and pledge to work with you Mr. Chairman to make that happen. I apologize for not being able to stay for the duration of the hearing, but thank you for calling it.