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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, As Prepared

07/07/2011
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As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all very much for being here with us today. I’m happy to announce today the finalization of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The C-SAP standards are designed to prevent the drift of harmful, airborne pollution from a source in one state to the air people are breathing in communities in another state. Finalizing this rule is yet another long overdue step we are taking to protect the air we breathe, the air our children breathe, and to ensure that no community has to bear the burden of another community’s polluters.

First and foremost, this effort is about protecting our health. Once these safeguards go into effect, pollution reductions are projected to prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, up to 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and up to 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis. We also expect to see 400,000 fewer cases of aggravated asthma. Let me add, that’s all good news for our businesses and workers and students. Those health benefits will result in 1.8 million fewer sick days.

As the mother of a son with asthma, I know that these numbers and the fights we wage for clean air are not just abstract concepts. Behind these numbers are people’s lives and livelihoods. With the changes we’ll see from these safeguards, we have the potential for a stronger workforce, able to come to work and concentrate once they’re there. And we increase the possibilities for families to enjoy the summer months outdoors, rather than staying inside because of hazy, polluted skies.

The C-SAP standards are also about our sense of basic fairness and responsibility.

We all know that pollution generated in one state or one community does not stop at the border or the city line. Just because wind and weather will carry air pollution away from its source at a local power plant, it doesn’t mean that pollution is no longer that plant’s responsibility. It doesn’t mean that cross-state pollution is any less harmful to the communities it settles in, causing smog and leaving soot in the air people are breathing.

Many states are required to work harder than they should to keep the air clean and meet their responsibility to their people. Pollution that crosses state lines puts a greater burden on states and makes them responsible for cleaning up someone else’s mess. These states have asked EPA for years to tackle power plant pollution transported by wind and weather to its communities. And of course, one state's reductions of pollution will not only help its neighbors – it will better protect its own residents as well.

Nationwide, the Transport Rule will cut millions of tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution from power plants – emissions that result in dangerous soot and smog in the air we’re breathing. By reducing this ozone and particle pollution, which are linked to costly and life-threatening health problems such as asthma, heart attacks, and premature deaths we anticipate up to $280 billion in annual benefits. Those health and environmental benefits far outweigh the annual cost of complying with the rule, which is estimated at about $800 million in 2014, along with roughly $1.6 billion per year in capital investments already underway as a result of CAIR, the court-overturned rule C-SAP is designed to replace.

To comply, power plants in states covered by the rule can install widely available pollution control technology. Many power plants have already made these investments. The flexible structure of this rule allows sources to choose other compliance options, as well, giving them the flexibility to find the most cost-effective way forward. In making these changes to reduce SO2 and NOx emissions, communities will see more than just health and environmental benefits. The rule will also help improve visibility in state and national parks, while better protecting sensitive ecosystems, including Appalachian streams, Adirondack lakes, estuaries, coastal waters, and forests.

Ultimately, these safeguards are about securing a fundamental right we should all enjoy – the right to breathe clean air and to raise our families in places free of threats to our health and well-being. Across our county, today’s generation of Americans is breathing cleaner air than their parents’ or grandparents’ generation. With these safeguards and other commonsense steps EPA is taking to limit unchecked pollution and protect our health, we’re ensuring that those gains continue. And we’re ensuring that future generations will have access to clean air and all the benefits that come along with healthy, vibrant communities.