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Speeches - By Date


Clean Bus Initiative, Charlotte, NC

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Charlotte Area System Downtown Transfer Station
Charlotte, North Carolina

June 5, 2003

Thank you, Stan (Meiburg), for that introduction. I = m pleased to be here today with Mayor McCrory. The Mayor was a strong ally in getting brownfields legislation passed into law last year. I= m proud to call him A friend. @

Since President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970, America has made significant strides in improving the quality of the air we breathe. Thanks to cleaner burning engines, improvements in industrial pollution prevention techniques, and tough enforcement of our environmental laws, the air today is cleaner and healthier than it was in 1970.

But we can and we must do better. In North Carolina, 55 percent of harmful air pollution is generated by cars. Now, let me be clear, that doesn't include NASCAR cars B I know better than to come to Charlotte and say anything even remotely critical about that. But for those of us who drive along regular roads to and from work, one of the most effective ways to reduce that pollution is through the use of mass transit.

Here in Charlotte, CATS not only gets people where they = re going and cuts down on traffic congestion, it also helps make the air we all breathe healthier. Did you know that a bus that = s just half full takes enough cars off the road to fill a single lane of traffic six blocks long? And that riding CATS, instead of driving, cuts air pollution by more than 25 percent. Residents of Charlotte and the surrounding region should be proud of the work CATS does to help make your air cleaner. Of course, as anyone who has crossed the street behind a bus knows, despite the contribution buses make to reducing pollution from cars, there's still plenty to do to make the diesel-powered buses cleaner burning.

At the EPA, we have initiated a number of programs to cleanup diesel engines used in buses and other transportation vehicles as well as in nonroad equipment.

Our Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program is an incentive-based, non-regulatory approach to encourage retrofits of existing engines with pollution-reduction technology.

Our Clean School Bus USA initiative will ensure that by the year 2010, every public school bus transporting our children to and from school is a cleaner-burning vehicle.

Our proposed Nonroad Diesel Emissions rules will cut emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide from those engines by more than 90 percent.

And our new rule requiring the use of cleaner diesel fuel starting in 2006 will reduce the sulfur content of such fuel by more than 99 percent.

Taken together, all our efforts to promote cleaner diesel will reduce the emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides from these engines by as much as 95 percent. However, the federal government cannot B and should not B be doing this alone. State and local governments also have an important role to play, as you know so well.

This region has a strong record of looking for ways to promote environmental protection above and beyond what the federal government requires. It was that record that prompted us to ask the state governments of North Carolina and South Carolina, along with 15 counties and more than 60 municipalities in the two states to participate in an innovative planning partnership.

This partnership is focusing on ways to fully integrate air quality issues into all energy, transportation, land use, and economic development efforts. The Charlotte region is the first in the country to work with us in this new partnership, known as the Sustained Environment for Quality of Life B or SEQL B program.

As a result, EPA has provided technical expertise and more than $350,000 to date in grants to advance this plan, which I believe will be a model for the rest of the nation.

Today I = m pleased to recognize the latest of your groundbreaking efforts B the innovative study CATS is undertaking to test the use of low sulfur diesel fuel in all its buses and to retrofit 14 vehicles with additional pollution control equipment. This study will help evaluate the most effective ways to cut emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides from buses here in the Charlotte-Rockhill area.

It also proves that it's not necessary to wait for three or four years to start using low sulfur diesel fuel. You have made the commitment and you've found a supplier in Conoco-Phillips B not years from now, but now.

This sort of leadership demonstrates your commitment not just to cleaner air but to better health for all the people who live, work, and play in this area B especially children and the elderly. So please accept my congratulations for being in the forefront of this very important issue. The work you are doing will earn you the gratitude of the people you serve today and of their children and grandchildren tomorrow. Thank you.