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Remarks As Prepared Administrator Johnson, “25 Years of Air Act in India” Roundtable, Mumbai, India

03/28/2007
Good afternoon. It’s my pleasure to be here at this Roundtable to review 25 years of Air Act in India.

Although this is my first visit to your country, for years I’ve looked forward to visiting India and having the opportunity to discuss our nation’s shared environmental challenges.

Pollution, especially air pollution, knows no geographic or political borders. By working together, America and India can continue to improve air quality for our citizens, and for our world.

As our economies grow, so too does the challenge of our air quality. I would like to take this opportunity to share America’s accomplishments in improving the air we breathe while maintaining a prosperous economy.

I also want to discuss EPA’s collaborative air programs here in India, and specifically in Maharashtra. When we collaborate, our environmental progress accelerates.

The quality of our nation’s air is a challenge that the United States has faced head-on, and with great success. India also faces this challenge, and by expanding our partnership efforts, I believe our countries can work together to implement strategies already in use throughout the world.

As we live in a global economy, we also live in a global environment. This means that as major contributors to the world economy, the U.S. and India are vital to the health of our world environment.

Just as our countries are working to become better economic neighbors, we must also be committed to becoming better environmental neighbors.

From our experience in the U.S., we know that air pollution is one of the most pervasive environmental challenges we face as regulators. Nonetheless, we have managed to cut our air emissions in half over the last 30 years, even as our population and economy have grown substantially, and we’ve learned a few things in the process.

The good news is that increased economic growth does not dictate a decrease in environmental progress. As we are seeing in the U.S., environmental progress and economic growth can, in fact, go hand-in-hand.

Every dollar spent to improve air quality can yield an enormous return on the investment. In the U.S. we've seen benefit to-cost-ratios of 40-to-1 for our acid rain program, 17-to-1 for our new transportation programs, and 20-to-1 on our recent activities to reduce emissions from locomotives and marine engines. These numbers are proof that good environmental policy can also lead to positive economic results.

Protecting our environment is good for our economy and good for our health. America’s clean air efforts have resulted in fewer related cases of respiratory disease, hospital admissions, lost work days, and premature deaths.

As we continue to advance our environmental successes in the U.S., we remain reliant on a handful of core principles I believe are also applicable in India.

First, we use the best available science. At EPA, we’ve found that sound science is the basis of our environmental achievements and the genesis of our future successes. A science-based decision-making process is critical to ensuring our actions target the most critical air pollution challenges.

As part of a science-based approach, it is important to build the infrastructure necessary to accurately quantify emissions and monitor the impact of air pollution. As a result, we are better able to manage our air quality and ensure our programs are effective. And I am pleased that the U.S. and India are collaborating on a variety of projects to establish these very important program foundations.

The second and equally important lesson we have learned, is the value of collaborating on air pollution improvement programs. By participating in an open and honest dialogue with a broad group of stakeholders, consensus can be reached on even the toughest of issues. Through collaboration, our environmental progress accelerates.

Collaboration is also a good way for different groups from government at all levels, industry, academia, non-government organizations, researchers, and public interest groups to learn from each other. And such an approach enables the government to tap into sources of information and expertise that go beyond what it alone could provide.

I am pleased to note India’s commitment at the national level to meet the environmental challenges of your growing economy. I am also pleased that over the past 5 years, EPA and the U.S. Agency for International Development have worked closely with the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Central Pollution Control Board and other groups in India, to evaluate and adapt the tools and approaches from our U.S. experience to conditions that are unique to India.

I understand considerable work is both planned and underway in your cities to reduce air pollution from the transportation sector. In America’s experience, we know that addressing pollution from motor vehicles is an important step in improving urban air quality. I applaud your efforts to produce cleaner lead-free gasoline and lower sulfur diesel fuel, institute motor vehicle emissions standards, and promote alternate motor vehicle fuels like compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas.

Another important area to direct your attention to is the industrial sector. As you know, EPA is working closely with Indian partners such as the Indian Central Pollution Control Board, The Energy and Resources Institute, and the World Resources Institute to develop the tools to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and conventional air pollutants from the cement industry. This effort – focused on measuring and monitoring emissions – is critical for implementing a science-based approach to your decision-making process. We are continuing this collaborative effort by developing tools for other key industry sectors in India, including the power sector.

Since people spend much of their lives indoors, EPA is pleased to work with you to reduce your residents’ exposure to indoor air pollution. EPA has funded two pilot projects in India to demonstrate effective approaches to increase the use of affordable, reliable, clean, efficient, and safe home cooking and heating practices.

Much of our work with you these last five years has been in Maharashtra. And, as a result, EPA has developed particularly good relationships with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. I would like to thank you both for hosting today’s meeting.
We have done – and continue to do – many great things together. Through collaboration, our environmental progress will continue to accelerate.

In Pune, for example, we have been working with a number of local stakeholders to develop a science-based action plan, which identifies the most cost effective air quality programs to cut air pollutants.

I have to compliment our local partners in that project who have embraced the air quality management approach that we developed together. Through this effort, we have been able to accomplish a great deal — a fact that has been recognized by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.

We are again seeing collaboration as the key to accelerating environmental progress.

EPA has also been working closely with our partners, including the motor vehicle industry and fuel industry here in Maharashtra to cut emissions from diesel engines. Although we will talk more about these projects when we tour the showcase outside, let me describe them briefly.

The first is a retrofit project in Pune, which will outfit 20 city buses with advanced emission control equipment. As we have seen in the U.S., these technologies, when coupled with ultra-low sulfur fuel, can reduce diesel emissions by over 90 percent. My hope is that a successful demonstration project here in Maharashtra will serve as a model for similar efforts throughout India.

The second project is a retrofit technology for 2-stroke auto-rickshaw that we want to evaluate for application here in Maharashtra. These retrofits, currently used in the Philippines, have demonstrated a nearly 90 percent reduction in the pollutants that contribute to soot and smog. In addition to being good for your lungs, this technology is good for your wallet since it increases fuel efficiency by 32 percent.

Once again I would like to commend the progress you’ve made and the hard work of our partners here in India. I would also like to thank my staff at EPA and our other U.S. partners.

Our work has just begun and the challenges ahead are great, but collaborative approaches based on sound science will help both of our countries bring cleaner air to our citizens.

By working together, American and India will improve air quality for our citizens, and for our world. Through this vital collaboration, we will continue to accelerate the pace of environmental protection.

Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. Before I leave, I would be happy to answer any questions.

Thank you.