Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing and giving us an opportunity to discuss this important bill.
I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of S. 1265, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005.
I want to speak to you today as a grandfather – because one of my 10 grandchildren has severe asthma.
If you know a child who suffers from this disease, it breaks your heart to have to tell them that they can’t go outside and play on certain days because the air isn’t safe.
And even if you don’t know anybody with asthma, you know that something is wrong when it isn’t safe to breathe the air.
There are 11 million diesel-powered vehicles in the United States. These vehicles account for about half of the most dangerous types of air pollution – fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, which leads to ozone.
Almost all of New Jersey exceeds the safe standards for both of these substances. Nationally, 65 million Americans live in areas where they are exposed to excessive levels of particulate matter … and 111 million are exposed to unsafe levels of ozone.
Children are especially affected, because their lungs are still developing. High levels of particulate matter have been associated with crib death, and ozone increases hospitalization for asthma.
Exposure to these substances isn’t just harming young lungs – it’s literally killing thousands of people.
A study for the Clean Air Task Force estimates that 21,000 people will die prematurely each year from exposure to particulate matter soot from diesel vehicles.
The same study projected that another 27,000 people would suffer heart attacks because of diesel pollution, and that 2.4 million work days would be lost due to illness.
Diesel exhaust also contains 15 known or suspected carcinogens.
Obviously we need to do whatever we can to curtail pollution from diesel engines.
Most of EPA's rules and regulations deal with new diesel engines. But we have technology to retrofit old engines, which can last as long as 20 years.
This is a great bill because it will clean up those diesel engines that are already on the road, spewing pollution into our air every day.
As a grandfather, I want to thank Senator Voinovich, Senator Carper, and all the co-sponsors of this bill … as well as the witnesses who are here today in support of it.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.