Senator Tom Carper Statement
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and
Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy
“Clean Air Act and Jobs”
March 17, 2011
Government has many roles to play. Among them, few are as important as creating a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. It is not government's job to be a lap dog for business; however, at the end of the day, if businesses large and small are making money, playing by the rules, being good corporate citizens, paying taxes and hiring people, the rest for somebody in my business is pretty easy.
"For the last forty years, the EPA has tried to do its part to enable the federal government to play that critical role. The EPA has sought to foster economic growth while ensuring that Americans are protected from life threatening pollution, including air pollution.
"In 1970, President Nixon signed into law the Clean Air Act. This Act established a framework to curb our air pollution. This law was so successful that over 200,000 lives were saved from 1970-1990. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush built upon President Nixon's success with the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. That Act gave us the clean air laws we have today.
"Lately, some have sought to make the claim that the Clean Air Act has raised costs for consumers and hurt our economy. But on closer analysis, the facts tell a different story.
"For example, since 1990, electricity rates – adjusted for inflation – have stayed constant in the U.S., while our real gross domestic product has grown by 60 percent. At the same time, we have saved thousands of lives and ensured that our children – along with their parents and grandparents – can breathe cleaner, healthier air.
"For 2010 alone, cleaning up soot and smog saved over 160,000 American lives. That's over twice the number of people who live in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. At the same time, our country saved $1.3 trillion in health care costs – from lives saved, less kids getting sick with asthma and less sick days.
"Put another way, the Clean Air Act benefits outweigh the costs by a margin of 30 to 1. Talk about a return on investment. It just doesn't get much better than that. These clean air regulations help us save billions of dollars on public health costs while providing a multitude of opportunities for good-paying American jobs.
"According to recent reports, clean air regulations that will be promulgated later this year are expected to create as many as 1.5 million jobs over the next five years, jobs that come at a crucial time as our economy continues to recover and begins to grow. These are American jobs in engineering and design, as well as in manufacturing, installing and operating pollution control and clean energy technology that's made in America and sold all over the world.
"In closing, I'd like to leave you with a quote from President Harry Truman, who once said, 'The only thing new in this world is the history that you don't know.' Let me invite my colleagues to take a little time and actually drill down on what I believe are the facts with regards to the Clean Air Act. I believe that once they see the facts, they will come to realize that moving our country forward cannot mean going backwards on clean air rules.