Contact Us

Newsroom

Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Johnson, China SED, Beijing, China

12/15/2006
Good morning.

I want to begin by thanking our Chinese hosts for the opportunity to meet with you today. I had the honor of meeting with Minister Zhou (JO) in April of this year, and it is a pleasure to once again discuss our mutual interests and challenges.

I would like to use my time this morning to discuss the relationship between economic growth and environmental protection, and to consider how the United States’ experience may be relevant and helpful to China.

In the U.S., we have seen that good environmental policy can lead to positive economic results.

Over the next few minutes I will share with you some examples of America’s progress in accelerating environmental protection while maintaining economic growth.

I will also discuss how we are addressing the environmental challenges presented by our growing transportation sector.

In addition, I will share with you how our investments in technology are meeting our increasing energy needs.

And finally, I will mention how the choices of businesses and consumers are leading to both economic growth and environmental improvement.

Throughout America’s history, we have learned that we can protect the environment while enjoying economic growth. Since 1970, our population has grown by nearly 40 percent, vehicle miles traveled have almost tripled, and our energy use has increased by almost half. Over this time, our gross domestic product has nearly tripled. Yet even with these added demands on our natural resources, emissions of major pollutants in the U.S. have decreased more than 50 percent.

These numbers are proof that good environmental policy can lead to positive economic results.

Let me cite a few examples.

To combat the ecological and economic harm of acid rain, EPA established an innovative program that set a national limit on the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions allowed to be released into the air by coal-fired power plants. Recognizing the need for flexibility, companies were permitted to trade emission credits, so that early-compliant companies were able to sell their credits on the open market. This market-based program, known as cap-and-trade, encourages businesses to clean up faster than their competitors and creates economic incentives for the innovation of clean technologies. As you can see, in just two-and-a-half decades, U.S. acid rain deposition has decreased dramatically.

Even as U.S. energy demands increase, we continue to realize significant environmental benefits. By the year 2010, while electricity production is expected to increase by 7 percent, the Acid Rain Program will deliver annual benefits of around 122-billion-dollars … all at an annual cost of about 3-billion-dollars - a 40-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

Combined with accurate emission monitoring and strong, effective enforcement, America’s clean air programs that target acid rain, soot, smog and mercury will continue to deliver enormous benefits to public health and the environment.

As our nations upgrade efficiency requirements and deploy new technologies in power production, we welcome increased cooperation on cleaner coal development. Secretary Bodman mentioned the zero-emission coal technology called FutureGen. We would be pleased to work together with you to encourage its development and use in your nation.

Let me turn for a moment to the environmental impacts of a growing transportation sector. As I mentioned, the number of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. has almost tripled in the past 35 years. Over that time, the number of cars and trucks on the road has more than doubled. Yet cars and trucks are cleaner than ever – more than 95% cleaner than when I bought my first car. This is because the U.S. has committed to improving the environmental quality of fuels, expanding the use of renewable fuels, and developing cleaner vehicle engines. Our efforts have reduced the number of related cases of respiratory disease, hospital admissions, lost work days, and premature deaths. Once again, the benefits will far outweigh the costs. When the U.S. clean-transportation programs are fully implemented, the annual public health benefits will reach 175-billion-dollars … or about 17-dollars in benefits for every one dollar invested to control pollution.

A recent report concluded that if China were to adopt similar clean fuel measures, the benefits would exceed 20-dollars to every one dollar invested. EPA is committed to continuing our collaboration with China’s State Environmental Protection Administration and others in your nation on a number of clean fuel and vehicle programs.

I have mentioned a number of examples of how good environmental policy leads to advances in cleaner, more efficient energy technologies. However, we are also investing in voluntary partnerships with the private sector to develop the next generation in environmental technology. The diversity in our partner companies is impressive and covers every sector of our economy.

The energy technology developed through EPA’s voluntary Landfill Methane Outreach Program is allowing our partners in industry to capture landfill emissions and to turn this potent greenhouse gas into a source of energy. Through advances in cleaner energy technologies, we have reduced total U.S. methane emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels. These successes led to the formation of the Methane to Markets Partnership, of which China is a founding member. And we have already begun to see its impact, with China recently announcing it will be home to the world’s largest coal mine methane power project. I also commend China for hosting the 2007 Methane to Markets Partnership Expo, bringing together 18 countries and over 400 public and private sector organizations to advance clean energy technology projects around the world.

Similarly, under the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, EPA is working with partner countries - including China - and the private sector to expand investment and trade in cleaner energy technologies, goods, and services in key market sectors.

Finally, I would like to discuss how consumers in the U.S. are encouraging the development of cleaner, more energy-efficient products.

For example, one of most successful voluntary programs is ENERGY STAR, which recognizes companies for making energy-efficient products. The success of ENERGY STAR is powered by consumers, who are increasingly choosing energy-efficient products in the marketplace. Last year alone, Americans purchased enough ENERGY STAR products, such as lighting, computers, televisions, and kitchen appliances, that they saved 12-billion-dollars and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 23 million vehicles. EPA is proud to support China's voluntary energy efficiency labeling efforts for 12 major consumer product categories.

Our governments can lead by creating good environmental policies that yield positive economic results. Much of America’s environmental successes can be attributed to maintaining the accountability and integrity of programs through accurate, complete monitoring, transparent data, and predictable consequences for noncompliance.

Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. This is an excellent opportunity for closer cooperation to address our shared environmental and economic challenges. I look forward to the remainder of this dialogue.

Thank you.