Thank you Chairman Voinovich and Chairman Inhofe for holding this hearing. While I and some of my colleagues on the Subcommittee may be new to this Committee, the issue before us certainly isn’t new to the Committee. In fact, by my count, this is the 23rd hearing this Committee has held on multi-emissions issues since 1998. I know that I appreciate another opportunity to hear first hand how Clear Skies will substantially reduce emissions of the three most harmful pollutants from power generation, and will do so in a way that is much faster and more efficient than under current law.
I think that when any of us look at a piece of legislation, the first thing we ask is “what is the impact on those whom I represent?” The positive impact that Clear Skies will have on the State of Georgia is very real. Georgia sources would reduce emissions of SO2 by 89%. NOx would be reduced by 77%, and Mercury by 76% by the year 2020. Georgians would realize health benefits totaling $5.3 billion annually, and visit the hospital or emergency rooms 1,500 less times. These are very tangible results.
I am especially interested in the benefits for Georgia in the section regarding “Transitional Areas”. Under Clear Skies, areas that are projected to meet the ozone and fine particles standards by 2015 as a result of Clear Skies would have legal deadline of 2015 for meeting these standards (i.e., will have an attainment ate of 2015). These areas would be designated "transitional" areas, instead of “non-attainment" or "attainment," and would not have to adopt local measures except as necessary to qualify for transitional status). They would have reduced air quality planning obligations and would not have to administer more complex programs. Clear Skies will allow many of Georgia’s counties to be designated “transitional”, and ultimately in attainment.
America has made much progress since 1970 and the passage of the Clean Air Act, however we still face major air quality challenges in many parts of the country. Clear Skies is the most important step we can take to address these challenges. Clear Skies would make great strides towards solving our remaining air quality problems in a way that advances national energy security and promotes economic growth. When fully implemented nationally, Clear Skies would prolong thousands of lives each year, providing billions of dollars in economic benefits, save millions of dollars in health care costs, and increase by millions the number of people living in areas that meet our new, more stringent health-based national air quality standards.
There is no better time for us to be considering multipollutant legislation. Today we begin the process of bringing Clear Skies to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Congress needs to act now so that we may begin achieving emissions reductions and their related health benefits sooner rather then later. I look forward to working with you Mr. Chairman to pass Clear Skies, and improve our nation’s air quality. Thank you.