Speeches By EPA Administrator
Western Governor's Association, Washington,D.C.02/25/2003
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Western Governor= s Association
February 25, 2003
Thank you for giving me time this morning to speak with you. It = s good to be with you. Yesterday I had the chance to speak with some of you in general terms about the President= s Clear Skies proposal, our most important environmental initiative this year. As I said yesterday, Clear Skies would require mandatory reductions in the emissions of the three worst pollutants from power plants using a proven market-based approach.
Emissions of NOx, SO2, and mercury would be cut by 70 percent. Over the next ten years, Clear Skies would eliminate the emissions of 35 million tons of these pollutants. Clear Skies will improve the current Clean Air Act and will do a better job protecting public health, improving the environment. streamlining cumbersome and uncertain requirements, and guaranteeing results without harming the economy.
Today I want to share with you some information about what Clear Skies would mean to your part of the country. First, I want to assure you that Clear Skies builds on B and in fact reinforces B the good work you have been doing through the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP). EPA strongly supports the work of the WRAP B that = s why I = m pleased to announce today that we are awarding a $4.3 million grant to the WRAP to support their ongoing efforts.
As another indication of our support for the WRAP, Clear Skies preserves and supports the approach the WRAP has taken in committing to SO2 reductions. Under the national SO2 cap that Clear Skies sets, the trading program will go into effect in the West only if SO2 emissions in your region don = t meet the targets you = ve set for the year 2018. In addition, as the West continues to grow, Clear Skies will provide real health benefits for the families in your states.
Over the next two decades, your population is projected to grow by 20 percent B and that means an increased demand for power. Clear Skies will hold emissions from power plants in check as those energy needs are met, preventing degradation to the health of your people and your environment. One of the real results would be improvement in visibility in the national parks and wilderness areas that are so important, both to the very character of your region and to its economy. Visibility benefits in the Grand Canyon alone are estimated at $40 million a year by 2020. Multiply that across your vast network of parks, and you can see benefits in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
We also estimate that the combined economic value of the health and environmental benefits that Clear Skies would bring to your region is about $1 billion a year as of 2020. Those benefits reflect such things as fewer days of lost productivity as asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses decrease as the quality of the air increases.
It also reflects the fact that Clear Skies could help counties remain in attainment and would ensure that nitrogen deposition B which has been such a problem in much of the rest of the country B does not become a serious problem in your states. For example, we expect that nitrogen deposition in the Four Corners region will decrease some 30 percent beyond what would be achieved without Clear Skies. All of these benefits far outweigh the projected annual cost of $300 million a year of Clear Skies to the West.
In addition, I want to assure you that Clear Skies will not cause electricity rates to increase. Coal will continue to play an important part in your electricity generation portfolio, and Clear Skies will not disrupt that.
The President = s Clear Skies Initiative is consistent with the Western Air Quality policy resolution you adopted last summer in Phoenix. It moves us away from command and control, embraces a market-based approach, relies on effective partnerships, and embodies the principles of enlibra.
Clear Skies takes much of the uncertainty out of regulating clean air standards for power plants, reducing the regulatory burdens both on the industry and on your states.
By using a proven market-based approach to deliver guaranteed results at a fraction of the cost, Clear Skies is a clear winner for the people of your region. Clear Skies embodies our belief that environmental progress and economic prosperity can go hand in hand. I urge you to work with the members of your Congressional delegations to get Clear Skies to the President = s desk this year.