· No one disputes that we’ve made significant environmental progress since the Clean Air Act was first passed into law. But our work isn’t over.
· Despite this progress, many areas of the country – including Delaware- have significant air quality problems. In Delaware, the entire state exceeds EPA’s health standards for ozone, and New Castle County doesn’t meet EPA’s standard for fine particulate matter.
· I know a lot of people want to discuss the costs associated with attaining these standards, and that meeting them would negatively impact our economy. But the cost of protecting the public health is far, far less than the costs of breathing dirty air.
· While I was Governor, we wrestled with what we could do in our state to try to reach attainment. We looked at the costs and how it would impact our industries in the state. What I discovered, and what has become even more painfully obvious today, is that the costs of breathing dirty air are a far heavier burden on our economy than the costs of air pollution controls.
· According to a recent survey, during each of the summer months when air pollution is at its worst about 23% of adult Delawareans are unable to work or carry out daily activities for one or more days.
· 46,000 adults in Delaware suffer from asthma. 23,400 of our children have difficulty breathing when they go outside to play because of asthma, and 3,000 children under the age of 4 are hospitalized by asthma each year.
· And that’s just in my small, home state. The dirty air millions of Americans are being forced to breathe is costing us dearly. It impacts our health, our productivity and our quality of life.
· The National Association of Manufacturers released a publication this month titled Health Care Costs Crisis. The publication states “the rising cost of health coverage is one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face today.”
· In terms of solutions, the first “quick fix” the NAM offers is the following: “Intensively managing chronic health care conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, asthma) can generate substantial cost savings and increase productivity.”
· Let me say that again, according to the National Association of Manufacturers one of the best ways to save companies money and increase productivity is to address conditions like asthma.
· And what causes conditions such as asthma? According to the latest science particulate matter is associated with premature death, aggravation of heart and respiratory disease, asthma attacks, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis.
· If we want to help manufacturers we need to address these chronic health care problems, and we need to do it now.
· Unfortunately, once EPA finally decides on a new standard, areas will not need to comply with them for at least another decade and some will be able to get extensions until 2020.
· We need to begin addressing our air pollution problems today. That is why I recently reintroduced the Clean Air Planning Act. My proposal will cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 82 percent by 2015. Sulfur dioxide is one of the major forms of particulate matter which causes all of these chronic health problems.
· It will reduce this pollution from 11 million tons emitted today to 4.5 million tons in 2010. In 2015, power plants will have to reduce their emissions to 2 million tons.
· According to EPA, my proposal would cut the number of areas currently in nonattainment for particulate matter by over 70 percent by 2010.
· My bill will also greatly reduce ozone pollution. It will cut nitrogen oxide from 5 million tons today to 1.7 million tons in 2015. Today there are 126 areas in the nation that exceed EPA’s health standards for ozone. With these reductions ten years from now that number will be 11.
· Unfortunately, we are not here to talk about what we can and should do today. Instead we are talking about whether or not we should be doing something 10 years from now.
· I commend EPA for realizing that more needs to be done to adequately protect public health. I would implore you to carefully consider whether the changes you have proposed achieves that goal.