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National Governor's Association Clear Skies Presentation, Washington, D.C.

02/24/2003
Remarks Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
National Governor= s Association Clear Skies Presentation
Washington, D.C.

February 24, 2003


Good morning. A year ago President Bush proposed the most significant improvement to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade. His proposed Clear Skies Act 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 especially important for states, because as you can see from the map we have here and in your books, there are currently hundreds of counties that are in violation of fine particle and ozone standards. Without Clear Skies, under the Clean Air Act, the responsibility of bringing those counties into attainment falls to the states. And, as a former Governor, I know from experience that this can be a very resource intensive and politically difficult process. With Clear Skies, as the map shows, the vast majority of these counties will be brought into attainment B without making states do the heavy lifting.

For Western states, who benefit from having much cleaner air than the rest of the country, Clear Skies is still important. It will build upon the work of the Western Regional Air Partnership and will ensure that the West can continue its economic growth without degrading its environment.

At a time when state budgets around the country are tight, Clear Skies also makes sense economically. Clear Skies moves us away from command and control toward using the power of the market to achieve results. Rather than setting individual targets on particular smokestacks, it sets mandatory reductions on the industry as a whole B and gives facilities flexibility in determining how to meet those reductions.

This helps ensure that we get the most emissions reductions for the lowest cost. Clear Skies will also help maintain energy diversity and continue the trend of lower electricity prices.

The Clean Air Act has gone far in improving the quality of the air we breathe, but Clear Skies will go even further. By using this market-based approach, we will remove 35 million more tons of NOx, SO2 , and mercury from the air over the first ten years of our Clear Skies Act than what the current Clean Air Act would achieve.

And, we will do it without inviting endless, costly litigation and without sending energy costs through the roof. Clear Skies will also provide dramatic health benefits to the American people every year, including saving 12,000 lives and preventing15 million fewer days when sufferers of asthma and other respiratory illnesses are unable to work, go to school, or carry out their normal day to day activities.

Clear Skies is a clear win not only for the American people, but for state governments as well. Clear Skies will improve our air, protect public health, increase energy security, and save valuable state resources. With strong support from the White House, the time to enact Clear Skies is now, and I look forward to working with all of you to ensure its passage.

Thank you.