Thank you for holding this Subcommittee hearing, Mr. Chairman. This hearing will provide us with a better understanding on how we are meeting our nations clean air goals as well as the challenges ahead.
Progress on cutting air pollution is one of the nation’s environmental success stories. Over the last 30 years, air pollution has been cut by more than half. Emissions of each of the six criteria pollutants identified in the Clean Air Act have been dramatically cut. In fact, one of them – lead – has virtually been eliminated.
We should be proud of these accomplishments. It disturbs me that the green lobby tends to minimize and obscure this fact because I realize these achievements have not been accomplished without cost. Hundreds of billions have been spent, economies have been slowed, and jobs have been lost to achieve these pollution cuts. And the burden that many have paid should not be minimized, nor what they have accomplished.
Today we will hear testimony on two very important air quality standards. We will hear testimony on the large number of counties that have been designated as non-attainment with these standards. And while coming into attainment will be relatively painless for a few, many areas will experience tremendous hardship through slower growth and job contractions.
For instance, a recent study of Philadelphia found that the burden could be enormous. Conducted by NERA Economic Consulting – a respected firm that does work for government, private sector and environmental community – found that meeting its 2010 ozone attainment deadline will lead to a $3 billion reduction in economic output in the Philadelphia region in 2011. By 2020, the annual cost to the region would be staggering -- growing to as much as 60,000 fewer jobs, $8 billion in reduced output, and $6 billion in reduced disposable personal income.
The study also found that simply moving the deadline to 2015 would lower the cost to the local economy to $100 million per year and 1,000 fewer jobs. This underscores that it is important not only what goals we set, but how we achieve those goals.
As a former mayor, I recognize how important it is that the mandates imposed through federal law are achievable and flexibly designed. But I am concerned that such is not the case here. As Ohio EPA Director Joe Koncelik points out in written testimony, Northeast Ohio could barely come into attainment by its deadline even if it shut down all of its industry and depopulated the area. Given these realities, the regulatory deadlines appear arbitrarily inflexible.
The Clear Skies legislation that has been blocked in this Committee would address these issues. We have more analyses on multi-emission legislation than we have ever had for any clean air bills since the Clean Air Act originally passed. I hope that, with the latest analysis conducted by EPA, we receive a serious proposal to move forward with legislation to further our nation’s clean air progress while building common sense into the way we achieve it.