Contact Us

Newsroom

Speeches - By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to Growth Energy, As Prepared

09/13/2010
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you all for inviting me and my administration colleagues to be with you. I particularly want to thank you the leadership and staff of your organization for your constructive work with EPA on behalf of a clean energy future for our country.

As you may know, this week we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of EPA and the Clean Air Act. Because clean air is one of the goals of this group, and the Clean Air Act is relevant to so much of what you do, I want to take a moment to say why I rank this among the most important and beneficial pieces of legislation in our nation’s history.

First and foremost, this is a law that has provided the nation with trillions of dollars in health benefits by reducing asthma, heart disease, and numerous other respiratory illnesses.

Breathing cleaner air has not only kept people from needing expensive treatments and costly hospital stays – it has also kept our kids in school and our workers on the job, increasing productivity and economic potential.

The Clean Air Act is also – literally – a life saver. We estimate that it has prevented an average of 200,000 premature deaths in each year of its four decade history.

Emission levels of six dangerous pollutants like smog and acid rain have been cut in half in the last 30 years.

Lead levels are down 92 percent over the same time period – meaning far fewer children are suffering the developmental problems caused by early lead exposure.

Today’s new cars are 98 to 99 percent cleaner than they were in 1970. Air pollution has dropped despite a 27 percent growth in national GDP over the last 40 years and a rapid increase in the number of miles we drive.

In total, the benefits of the Clean Air Act amount to more than 40 times the costs of regulation.

The Clean Air Act is not just a very beneficial government program. Implementing the Clean Air Act is actually one of the most cost-effective things that the American people have done for themselves in the last half century.

And that is what we are celebrating this week.

Those gains have come largely through innovations – the products of our entrepreneurs and inventors who found profitable ways to meet the new environmental and health standards in the Clean Air Act.

Yet, while the last forty years have seen tremendous success in reducing the impact of vehicles, factories and other facilities, our nation has also become steadily more dependent on fossil fuels.

Right now, the U.S. transportation sector is 95 percent reliant on petroleum. There is a direct line between that number and family budgets – the money they spend on gas, on heating and cooling and energy.

It affects shipping prices, which in turn affects the price of products on the shelf, which, again, hits American families.

It has implications for our security when we continue to import foreign oil from places that don’t always share our interests.

And of course, it has tremendous implications for our climate, and the future of this planet that we must leave to our children and grandchildren. This Administration has made taking action on climate change one of its top priorities.

For those reasons and more, President Obama has mobilized this administration to make the transportation sector more sustainable.

In December, EPA declared that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare – what we call the endangerment finding. Part of that finding was that motor vehicles contribute to climate change.

In response, in April we finalized historic standards that limit greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles. It is the first ever greenhouse gas regulation in the United States.

The President has asked EPA to work with NHTSA to develop the second phase of this program, extending it through model year 2025.

The President has also gone another step further by asking EPA and NHTSA to develop the first national program to reduce GHG emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks, starting with model year 2014.

A key part of our strategy is continuing progress on biofuels.

This, again, is an issue the President Obama has been out front on. As he said, "There shouldn't be any doubt that renewable, fuels are a key part of our strategy for a clean energy future.”

The President – true to his Illinois roots – has consistently underscored the importance of corn ethanol in our transition to viable renewable fuels.

As part of building that clean energy future, the Administration has set forth on a biofuels program to build a more sustainable transportation sector.

The Renewable Fuels Standard program has and will continue to significantly increase the volume of biofuels in our transportation fuel supply – with a goal of 36 billion gallons by 2022.

As we know, Congress has established specific greenhouse gas reduction thresholds that must be achieved by renewable fuels in order to qualify for the program.

It is an ambitious program, but we expect it to result in significant benefits, especially as advanced and cellulosic fuels begin to penetrate the market.

It will decrease oil imports by over $40 billion, and result in energy security benefits of nearly $3 billion.

In 2022, it will reduce our carbon emissions by 138 million metric tons – equivalent to removing about 27 million cars from the road.

It will also expand the market for agricultural products and other biomass, and open new markets for advanced biofuels.

This will help increase net farm income by $13 billion dollars in 2022 – a much needed economic boost for a number of struggling rural areas across the country.

Just last week I had a chance to meet with the members of a farming community in Americus, Georgia. They told me about their enthusiasm not just for the jobs and economic activity of renewable fuels. But they also want the opportunity to be a part of strengthening our energy security. As people who live off the land, they understand the importance of protecting the planet.

This program will also drive research, investment and innovation in the development of the second generation of biofuels.

While we recognize that the viability of our biofuels industry will be successful only if first generation biofuels such as corn ethanol are viable, we also know that there is great potential to use other feedstocks in including non-grain feedstocks for biofuels.

By 2022, 15 billion gallons of ethanol can come from corn starch. However the majority of the increase in the mandate, 16 billion gallons is required to come from cellulosic-based materials.

We need to make more progress to develop and commercialize these cellulosic and advanced biofuels in order to fulfill our mandate for renewable fuels.

Just as important we need to make a significant commitment to improving infrastructure and consumer knowledge in order to increase market acceptance.

As we proceed, however, we also have a statutory mandate to ensure that these biofuels are produced sustainably – in terms of where we get the feedstocks…how they are grown, harvested and refined…and what the overall emissions are associated with the entire process.

That is why lifecycle analysis is such an important part of our approach to renewable fuel policy.

When Congress established the RFS2 requirements in EISA, it specifically directed EPA to evaluate biofuels on the basis of their full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions impacts.

We were directed to assess both direct and significant indirect impacts – including the impacts on land use from increased demand for biofuels.

Developing this analysis was a major undertaking. There was no single model available to give us lifecycle answers. And of course, there were many different opinions on how to proceed.

As always, we felt it was critical to use the strongest models and tools and the best science available.

We held hundreds of meetings with stakeholders and experts to make sure we had the latest information and fully appreciated the range of issues to consider.

We conducted a formal peer review of the lifecycle methodology.

And, finally, we received thousands of comments that helped us shape our final assessments.

Our process in the lifecycle analysis embodies the principles that I have made central to the way we carry out our work. We used the best science available in developing our proposal. We subjected our assessment to an independent peer review. We solicited extensive comments on our proposal

Using this analysis, we have determined that many biofuels, like soy-based biodiesel, cellulosic biofuels and, of course, corn ethanol can achieve significant GHG reductions when compared to the fuels they are replacing.

As we go forward – and as the state of science in this area evolves – we are committed to refining and updating our methodologies and data. As we committed in our rule-making we are moving forward to get further scientific advice from the National Academy of Sciences.

We are also committed to evaluating new technology, new feedstocks and new pathways as they are developed.

EPA is on track to complete the lifecycle analysis on a number of additional biofuels – canola, sorghum, palm oil, and pulp wood this year. The final rule also lays out a petition process to address other pathways in the future.

Let me also say that, in recent months, we’ve engaged in extensive outreach with the fuel industry to make sure that successful analysis leads to successful implementation of the program.

I know the main issue on your minds is higher blends of ethanol – such as E15. As you know, EPA is working hard on a number of fronts to make a decision on the E15 waiver petition from Growth Energy.

The timing of that decision at EPA is directly linked to the timing of the DOE testing. DOE, with guidance from EPA, is conducting an unprecedented multi-million dollar test program to look at the impacts E15 has on vehicles.

The first phase of this DOE program – the testing of 19 vehicle models that meet the Tier 2 standards – should be completed by the end of September, and all indications are the testing remains on schedule.

Once the testing is completed, EPA will make a decision whether to grant a waiver to allow E15 in 2007 and later vehicles.

In addition, DOE is testing vehicle models built between 2001 and 2006. That test program is expected to be completed by the end of November, at which point we expect to make a decision on a waiver that would cover 2001 to 2006 model year vehicles.

In conjunction with the waiver decisions EPA will also move forward on a rule to provide for proper fuel labeling to reduce the potential misfueling.

As with all of our actions we intend to take these deliberately and actions based on all of the information necessary to make a sound decision that will serve the public interest.

Let me close where I began – with the Clean Air Act. 40 years later, we are now in a place to write the next chapters of this tremendously successful law.

Renewable fuels are unquestionably part of that future. As the industry leaders in this field, I know you are eager to develop, invest and profit from the next generation of fuels.

By doing that you are helping our planet, and securing the future of our children and grandchildren.

EPA and President Obama are fully committed to moving forward in a way that meets those standards of environmental protection and economic prosperity. We look forward to working with all of you to get there. Thank you very much.