Opening Statement of Ranking Member Barbara Boxer
 Oversight Hearing on the Economy-wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda
September 29, 2015
 (Remarks as prepared for delivery)

 

Today’s hearing will examine two critically important efforts to protect the health of our children and families -- a proposed rule to strengthen the ozone standard and the final standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

This week, EPA is expected to issue its final rule to strengthen the ozone standard.  I am hopeful that EPA will issue a strong standard that will protect American children like Jaxin Woodward, an eighth-grader from Vacaville, California.  Jaxin, who suffers from asthma, wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee explaining why a stronger ozone standard is so important:

“I would like to continue playing outdoors and competing at a national level in track and field and cross country.  Having cleaner air will help me to achieve my goals.  I don’t want to have to keep telling the EPA to clean up our air.  I just want to be able to breathe.”

I think we can all agree with that.  I ask unanimous consent to place this op-ed in the record.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the maximum level of an air pollutant, such as ozone, that is safe for us to breathe.  Setting an appropriate standard is crucial to protecting the health of millions of Americans.  Everyone has a right to know that the air they breathe is safe -- and science tells us we need a stronger standard.

Despite what some of my Republican colleagues may claim today, scientists overwhelmingly agree that EPA needs to adopt a stricter standard to protect the health of the American people, especially our children and the elderly.  We have known since 2008 that the current ozone standard does not provide the necessary health safeguards.

According to a new American Lung Association poll, an overwhelming majority of voters -- 73 percent -- across party lines and from every region of the country support stricter ozone standards.  The poll found that 52% of Republicans support strengthening the standards.

In addition to its efforts to strengthen the ozone standard, EPA is also working to protect the American people from the dangers of unchecked climate change.  This hearing comes less than a week after Pope Francis called on Congress “to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”  I hope we will not ignore this call.

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan will help America lead the way to avert the worst impacts of climate change -- such as sea level rise, dangerous heat waves, and economic disruption.

One critical way we can address climate change is by reducing dangerous carbon pollution from the biggest source -- power plants.  The Clean Power Plan will reduce pollution from existing power plants, and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards will ensure new power plants apply the best available technologies to limit carbon pollution moving forward.

This is a cornerstone of achieving our international commitments to reduce harmful carbon pollution.  The announcement President Obama made last week with President Xi of China shows that US leadership on addressing climate change is working and that other countries are willing to act.

The American people overwhelmingly support action.  A Stanford University poll from earlier this year found that 83% of Americans, including 61% of Republicans, say that climate change will be a problem in the future if nothing is done to reduce carbon pollution.  And 74% of Americans say the federal government should take action to combat climate change.

The Clean Power Plan will save consumers money.  By 2030, the EPA estimates American families will save, on average, $85 a year on their electricity bills.

A huge number of Americans -- 4.3 million -- commented on the proposed rule for existing power plants, and EPA has issued a strong final rule that will reduce carbon pollution by 32 percent over the next 15 years.

I commend EPA for issuing these first ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, and I look forward to the final ozone rule fulfilling EPA’s obligation under the Clean Air Act to set a standard that will protect public health.

I often say, if people can't breathe, they can't go to work or school.  These two rules will cut air pollution – keep kids healthy and in school, keep people out of the emergency room and save lives.

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