Floor Remarks of Senator Barbara Boxer
Regarding Impacts of the House Republican Budget on EPA and Public Health
March 3, 2011
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
H.R. 1 attack[s] our bipartisan environmental laws that have made our air and water cleaner. H.R. 1 takes dead aim at the EPA.
The EPA is charged with upholding and enforcing some of the most popular and effective laws in the nation's history: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. 70 percent of Americans say EPA should do its job- that's a new bipartisan poll conducted by the American Lung Association.
Why does the public support these protections? The American people have seen how effective our environmental laws have been in improving their quality of life and making their children safer and healthier. People are smart and they don't want to pay the price of gutting environmental safeguards and letting polluters off the hook.
Consider what happens when children and families feel the direct impact of dirty air.
Exposure to air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, lost days at school and work, emergency room visits, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and premature deaths.
According to the American Lung Association, asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in childhood, currently affecting an estimated 7.1 million children.
EPA just released a new report showing that the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 cases of premature deaths in the year 2010 alone. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 230,000 premature deaths. EPA also reports that the number of asthma attacks prevented by Clean Air programs is expected to increase from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.4 million in the next decade.
But our landmark environmental laws are in danger. The Republican proposal drastically cuts funding and includes backdoor efforts to undermine the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. While we all agree that responsible cuts must be made to the federal budget, this Republican proposal slashes EPA's overall budget by thirty percent -- $3 billion dollars. This represents the largest cut to any Federal agency.
The American Lung Association has also weighed in on the effort to undermine EPA's authority. ALA stated recently that "H.R. 1 is toxic to public health" and it "will have dire consequences for all Americans, especially people with lung diseases, including lung cancer, asthma and emphysema."
Contrary to what supporters of H.R. 1 would have us believe, it is possible to make funding cuts in a strategic way - even in tough economic times. The President's budget makes difficult choices in a thoughtful and responsible way that doesn't sacrifice the huge strides our nation has made toward a clean and safe environment.
History shows that we can find common ground when it comes to protecting the environment. Many of our landmark public health and anti-pollution laws were passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by Republican Presidents, including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the nation's Brownfields law.
We have seen that a healthy environment and a thriving economy go hand in hand. Since the year Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, U.S. GDP has risen by 207 percent. Healthier air for our families leads to greater productivity and greater earning power, because if you can't breathe, you can't work or go to school.
Those who want to derail EPA's important work to safeguard children from mercury, carbon emissions, toxic soot, and other dangerous pollutants should consider the facts. Investing in clean air is one of the smartest investments we can make to accelerate the economic recovery.
The United States is the world's largest producer and consumer of environmental technology goods and services. This industry supports almost 1.7 million jobs and generates $300 billion in revenues -- including $43.8 billion in exports. Why take an ax to these industries?
We simply cannot afford to lose ground on the progress that has been made under the Clean Air Act, and EPA should not be prohibited from doing its job to save lives. We must protect our landmark environmental laws for the American people -- our families' health and our economy's strength depend on it.
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