I appreciate you holding today’s legislative hearing on S.1499. But I question the need for your bill. I appreciate that California has severe air pollution problems, and that the State has had little success in providing its citizens air that is healthy to breathe. But this debate seems like others where dirty air parts of the country try to impose draconian rules on the rest of the country to help spread the costs of cleaning its own air. Make no mistake – that is exactly what this bill does. It forces ports with clean air to comply with rules that are needed for dirty ports.
I prefer a simpler approach – areas with dirty air that violate the Clean Air Act should clean up their air. That is why I introduced legislation last Congress to significantly raise penalties in the dirtiest areas of the country to encourage them to obey the law. If they did that, fewer people would die from air pollution. It’s that simple. This bill takes the approach of penalizing clean ports to ease the economic burden on dirty ports. This turns the idea of State’s rights on its head.
The fact is that this law is bad for the U.S. It hurts our international competitiveness by raising the costs of exporting goods – regardless of whether those goods are shipped on U.S. or foreign vessels. The fact is that this is a global issue and the executive branch is now negotiating a global approach. Moreover, the international marine emissions agreement (MARPOL Annex VI) prohibits unilateral action, so this could conflict with any international approach, making it inappropriate for Congress to enact this bill.
I find it ironic that this Committee has spent so much time dealing with legislation to reduce greenhouse gases and then we would consider a bill that, according to the IMO Secretary General, could result in increased carbon dioxide emissions due to investments abroad in new refining equipment.
Madame Chairman, the United States is making significant progress in addressing this issue and its actions will help clean dirty ports worldwide, but in a comprehensive manner that will not unduly penalize clean ports in our country. I would conclude by quoting the phrase “Think globally, act locally.” Madame Chairman, I would hope areas such Los Angeles with horrible air pollution problems would begin acting locally and not interfere with efforts to address this issue globally.