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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the Port of Long Beach on Recovery Act Grants, As Prepared

10/01/2009
As prepared for delivery.

The Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles are drivers of both the local and the global economy. More than 40% of all the imported goods in our country travel through these two ports. They move billions of dollars in materials and products, and create thousands of jobs. But we’ve seen for some time that the constant traffic of ocean going vessels has brought with it some very serious challenges.

Cities that make their livelihoods from shipping are prone towards high rates of cancer, asthma, and other pollution related illnesses.

The children in these communities feel the effects of pollution in the air they breathe. Nearby residents and local workers bear the brunt of harmful emissions.

Every year, diesel air pollution causes almost a million lost work days, over 2,000 hospitalizations, almost 150,000 cases of asthma and lower respiratory symptoms, and – tragically – over 5,000 premature deaths in Southern California.

The process for better environmental stewardship and stronger health protection is underway. There are Federal and State of California regulations already in effect to reduce particulate matter emissions by 90 percent and oxides of nitrogen by 80 percent by 2030.

Today, we want to complement and accelerate the goals of that effort.

I’m proud to announce more than $26.5 million in Recovery Act grants for a variety of innovative projects to reduce diesel emissions from these ports and throughout the South Coast air basin.

These grants will help upgrade and retrofit hundreds of vehicles and machinery – both working in these ports and traveling through your neighborhoods every day – to clean diesel technology.

That will help create and save jobs here while significantly reducing the health and environmental burdens of dirty diesel emissions.

EPA estimates that clean diesel can generate up to $13 of public health benefits for every dollar spent – an amazing return on our investment.

And along with the health and environmental benefits come new economic possibilities.

A school district in Colorado recently retrofitted 120 school buses for clean diesel. Today, they’re saving more than $100,000 a year. That’s money that can go back in the classroom – where it really belongs.

One of the projects we’re supporting today will help purchase more than 40 new, clean buses for your communities.

Speaking as a mother, I know that will bring comfort to the many parents whose kids ride the school bus every day.

They want – and deserve – peace of mind that their children are not exposed to harmful emissions and pollution on their ride to school every day.

Other grants will go towards cleaner switcher locomotives, harbor crafts, cargo handling equipment, and construction vehicles. We will also invest in research on emerging technologies to continue this progress.

The cumulative impact will be reductions of approximately 25 tons of particulate matter, 450 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 820 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

The means the 16 million residents of the South Coast can breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives.

And by putting green innovation, sustainable technology, and clean energy into action at these ports – our gateways to the global economy – we can also send a powerful signal to the world: we can ensure economic strength and protect our health and our environment.

This is part of the nationwide clean energy transition that is clearing the air and creating millions of jobs across America.

The President is committed to rebuilding this economy and creating a new foundation for prosperity – especially where this downturn has hit the hardest.

In California and anywhere else in the country, we don’t have to choose between a green economy and a green environment.

I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead as we build our green economy, create new jobs, and safeguard human health and the environment in every community.

Thank you very much.