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Automotive and Energy Industry Dinner, Davos, Switzerland

01/26/2003
Talking Points for Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Automotive and Energy Industry Dinner
Davos, Switzerland

January 26, 2003


Thank you J.T. (Battenberg) for that introduction. It = s an honor to be here tonight to discuss some of the challenges facing the automobile and energy industries.

While both industries are distinct, each faces a similar challenge B how to pursue economic prosperity, while at the same time preserving our natural resources and protecting the environment.

Fortunately, these are not mutually exclusive goals. As we think about the future for these industries and the environment, there are three key areas, where I believe it is important we focus our attention B policy, partnership, and innovation.

In the policy area, President Bush has put forward the most significant improvement to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade.

His far-reaching Clear Skies proposal will achieve mandatory reductions of 70 percent in three of the most noxious air pollutants emitted by power plants B nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.

This is the most aggressive proposal any Administration has ever made to reduce emissions from power plants. Clear Skies will eliminate 35 million more tons of these pollutants in the next decade than under the current Clean Air Act, and will achieve these pollution reductions faster and cheaper than under current law.

Clear Skies complements our other clean air policy initiatives to address mobile sources of air pollution, such as EPA = s work with our industry partners to produce cleaner running vehicles.

By setting new tail pipe emissions standards for passenger vehicles and large, diesel trucks and buses, and reducing the sulfur content in gasoline and diesel fuel, our vehicles will operate as much as 95 percent cleaner within the next several years.

In addition, we are proposing a rule to curb the harmful health effects of pollution from diesel-powered non-road vehicles B such as large construction and farm equipment.

However, where policy can be an important foundation for achieving our clean air goals, there has to be more than rule-making and legislating to achieve lasting change and improvement.

President Bush and I believe that building strong partnerships between government, industry, and communities plays an integral role in meeting our goals and getting results.

In the United States, we have seen the success of these type of partnerships across a broad spectrum of environmental issues B from water quality improvement to land clean-up and redevelopment.

One of the most successful of these partnerships has been EPA = s Energy Star program.

Energy Star is a voluntary program that provides government agencies, businesses, schools, and consumers with the information they need to choose products that save energy, save money and protect the environment.

Last year alone, Americans B with the help of ENERGY STAR B saved $6 billion dollars on their energy bills, saved enough energy to power 10 million homes, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 12 million cars off the road B not that I = m advocating taking cars off the road.

What I am advocating is more partnerships like Energy Star that are yielding impressive environmental benefits without sacrificing economic health.

Focusing on these type of partnerships was an important part of the United States efforts at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

In South Africa, the United States launched a clean energy initiative aimed at alleviating poverty by revolutionizing the delivery of energy services to the world= s rural and urban poor.

As part of this clean energy initiative, EPA has been moving forward with our Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles.

This program is designed to bring together partners from government, industry, and other organizations in order to help developing countries reduce urban air pollution by building sustainable motor vehicle control programs.

For the past ten years, EPA has been leading an effort to phase-out the lead in gasoline everywhere in the world. Today, more than 85 percent of the world = s gasoline is lead free.

However, despite the progress we = ve made with lead, another environmental health hazard remains B sulfur.

Removing sulfur from fuels is important for improving respiratory health and crucial to the success of modern clean engines.

Therefore, the Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles takes a two-pronged approach, focusing on clean fuels and the introduction of clean engines and emissions controls so that we can realize the full potential clean fuels offer.

Currently, we have over 30 partners committed to this initiative, and the United Nations has expressed their desire to use it as a model for similar partnership efforts.

Too often in the past, global environmental efforts and domestic as well, cast industry as the enemy, and I, for one, am glad to see that our current efforts are casting industry in a new light B as partner and ally.

Finally, integral to a future of clean vehicles and energy security is in innovation and technology B an area where industry is already ahead of the game.

The innovation and inventiveness that the automobile industry is applying to solve the problem of harmful emissions is yielding incredible technological advances.

Clean diesel technology is enabling consumers to realize the energy efficiency benefits of diesel engines, without sacrificing clean air.

State of the art diesel engines are typically about 35% more efficient than gasoline engine. Therefore by utilizing clean diesel engines instead of gasoline, we should be able to reduce our oil consumption and increase our energy security.

With hybrid electric technology, there is the potential to reduce emissions and raise fuel economy.

As you know, there are currently three hybrids on the market in the United States B the Honda Civic, Insight, and the Toyota Prius.

More hybrids are on the way, with Ford, GM, and DaimlerChrysler all in the process of bringing their hybrids to the market in 2004 and 2005.

Some of these hybrids will raise fuel economy by 15 to 20 percent, and others by almost 50%.

Another important vehicle technology breakthrough is fuel cells B which have the potential to go even further than hybrids in reducing emissions.

The automobile industry is again helping to lead the way into this unmapped territory, with every major auto manufacturer and many automotive suppliers investing heavily in the development of fuel cell technology.

At EPA, we are helping steer fuel cell development toward technologies with the best potential for environmental benefit and long-term success.

Of course, having these technologies available is only one side of the coin, the other side is increasing the willingness of consumers to purchase this new generation of automobiles.

EPA has been pushing for a tax credit to be given to consumers who purchase hybrids or other advanced technology vehicles as an incentive to increase their use in the United States.

We will also continue our efforts to educate consumers about the long term environmental and economic benefits of making such a purchase.

As we move forward with our efforts to make these new technologies viable and affordable for consumers, EPA will work closely with our industry partners and other interested stakeholders to ensure that we move forward in a way that best serves our environment and our economy.

And, as we think about these issues and other challenges facing your industries at this time, it is my hope that we can come together in partnership to make sure our technology and policy are leading us towards a future of economic prosperity and environmental protection.

By working together we can ensure the continued stewardship of our precious natural resources and a future of cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land for this and future generations.

Thank you and at this time I = d like to open the floor to questions.