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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Clean Air Network Award Washington D.C.

02/23/1998
Carol M. Browner, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Clean Air Network Award
Washington DC

                       February 23, 1998


     Thank you Jayne for those kind words. I am, indeed, honored by this award. Coming from this committed and tireless group of clean air advocates, it is particularly meaningful and I am especially touched.

     I share this award with all of you. You were on the frontlines of this battle -- in communities around the country, on the streets -- teaching people about how important clean air is to the health of every American, how we can no longer accept rising asthma rates in children as a course of doing business in America, how the time has come to update our public health protections to keep our communities safe and healthy and strong and prosperous.

     When we began this fight, we heard lots of excuses as to why the standards should not be
changed. We heard: "You are moving the goal post." We heard: "No more back yard barbeques."
We heard: "This will crash our economy."

     What these naysayers underestimated was groups like yours. People began to see that we were not changing the goal post, but achieving the goal -- clean, healthy air. That we had good, solid, reputable science on our side. That we could grow our economy and protect our health and our environment at the same time, and that over and over again we've proven one does not have to come at the cost of the other.

     Thank you for your hard work, your caring and your commitment.

     All of us here can take comfort that we have come this far for cleaner air. But by no means -- absolutely by no means -- does this signal that it is time to retire to the sidelines. Announcing new air standards is one thing. Achieving them, quite another.

     Success hinges on us all working together -- working in partnership -- citizens,
environmentalists, public health advocates, industry, and government: state, local and federal -- to find cheaper, more innovative, more creative ways to transform cleaner air from a promise on paper to a reality for the American people.

     I'm happy to say we're already heading down that road. Just last week, Vice President Gore announced that we are making cleaner cars a reality for the nation -- much cleaner cars, 70 percent cleaner. And he is not talking about some innovation still on the drawing board, some technology in the far future. He is talking now, this year, five years ahead of the Clean Air Act.

     Nearly every automaker -- foreign and domestic -- is participating in our program for cleaner cars, our voluntary partnership agreement between eight Northeastern States and the District of Columbia and automakers. That means soon, by 2001, we'll be seeing cleaner cars in almost every showroom in the country, and that includes minivans, sports utility vehicles and pickups.

     These cleaner cars will emit 70 percent fewer hydrocarbons and up to 50 percent less smog-forming nitrogen oxide. This is equivalent to taking 10 million cars off the road -- great news for public health and great news for our environment.

     But what's truly remarkable about this program is that it shows that working together we can make real progress, we can apply our ingenuity, we can grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time and prove that the two, in fact, are inseparable.

     This is our guiding philosophy. And the President and Vice President are showing that it works. Our environmental and public health protections are as strong as they've ever been, and so is our economy.  We are, indeed, building a sound, sturdy bridge to the 21st century -- and I'm pleased to say that in the coming months we'll be driving over that bridge in cleaner cars.

     Another partnership for clean air has formed around the problem of smog-forming nitrogen oxide carried far on the wind. This pollution doesn't stop at the state border, and neither should our efforts to clean it up.

     Two years ago, we put out a challenge to 37 midwestern states and the District of
Columbia: Let's sit down together, let's talk, let's find a fair, effective, region-wide solution to the transport of ozone. The states rose to the occasion and based on their recommendations, EPA proposed a nitrogen oxide budget, if you will, for 22 states and the District of Columbia. In five years, under this clean air proposal, we will start reducing lung-damaging ozone by 32 percent across the eastern half of the United States -- and most likely from cutting emissions at electric utilities.

     EPA is working on many fronts for clean air.

     A device in fuel tanks that will reduce toxics in the air by about 300,000 to 400,000 tons
     per year nationwide.

     Reformulated gasoline now required in more than a third of the country with benefits
     equivalent to taking 10 million cars off the road.

     And last July, we proposed to clear the air over our national parks and wilderness areas --
     places such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Shenandoah, Acadia. Millions
     of people visit these scenic treasures, but fewer and fewer can view them in all their
     splendor because of polluted, unhealthy haze.

     Together, all these measures will be a great boost to cities and states working to ensure clean air for all their citizens -- and all this accomplished simply by people working in partnership, becoming a part of the solution, together finding ways to solve problems that work for everyone.

     This is the Clinton-Gore Administration's highest hope for cleaning up the air we all breathe and the water we drink and the land we all share.

     There are so many ways, we, together, can make clean air a reality for the nation.  As the President has said, now is not the time to rest. Now is the time to build on our momentum, the progress we have made in the last five years for public health. With our economy strong, now is the time to invest in our people, so that we can best meet the economic and public health and environmental challenges of the coming century.

     Thank you again for this award, and for your continuing efforts on behalf of clean air for the nation.