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EPA and NOAA MOU Signing, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
EPA and NOAA MOU Signing
Washington, D.C.

May 6, 2003

Welcome everyone. I = m pleased to announce today an important new partnership between EPA and the Department of Commerce= s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that will provide Americans with detailed air quality information on a daily basis.

When we leave our houses in the morning, most of us rely on the weather report to help us determine if we need to bring our umbrella or wear a coat. However, for the 31 million Americans who have asthma, they leave the house every morning needing to know how the day's air quality will impact their quality of life. Over the past few years, EPA has worked with many state and local partners to implement air quality forecasting, specifically for ozone levels. Currently, 273 cities issue next day ozone forecasts; however local meteorologists do not have the benefit of a national model when they are making these predictions.

Fortunately, EPA and NOAA are in the process of changing that, by developing a national air quality forecasting tool that state and local forecasters can use to determine the air quality over a three day period. When fully implemented, this new tool will make it easier for every city in America to provide accurate air quality reports with the appropriate health implications. On days when air pollution is high, these forecasts will help asthma sufferers and others plan for their day with a greater understanding of what to expect from the air they breathe. Of course, it isn = t enough to just forecast the quality of our air. With over 100 million Americans exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution, we must continue our work to address the sources of air pollution in order to achieve real and lasting improvement in our overall air quality.

The work of this Administration has put us on a path towards cleaner air, and one of the most important pieces of that work is the President = s landmark Clear Skies legislation. Clear Skies is the most significant improvement to the Clean Air Act in more than a decade and the most aggressive proposal any Administration has ever made to reduce emissions from power plants. Clear Skies will achieve mandatory reductions of 70% of three of the most dangerous pollutants emitted by power plants B nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. We will remove 35 million more tons of these pollutants from the air over the first ten years of Clear Skies than the current Clean Air Act would achieve in that same time frame.

This will provide dramatic health benefits to the American people every year: the prevention of 12,000 premature deaths and by 15 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 because of bad air quality. Clear Skies complements our other air initiatives such as our work to address the pollution from mobile sources.

In April, EPA announced an important new rule that would dramatically reduce harmful emissions from diesel engines used in construction, farming, industrial, and airport service equipment. This new non-road diesel announcement is part of a series of rules that have put stringent new emissions requirements on all mobile sources. A comprehensive approach that will allow us to reap tremendous environmental results. When fully implemented, these programs will reduce air pollution by nearly 7 million tons and save over 23,000 lives a year.

In addition, it = s important to remember that those who often suffer the most from asthma are our children. That is why we recently launched the Clean School Bus USA initiative to improve the pollution performance of our public school buses. From Clear Skies to Clean Buses, we are successfully pursuing our ultimate goal B to forecast clean air every day in every city and every town in America.

As we celebrate World Asthma Day today, we do so with an understanding of the difficulties asthmatics face in their daily lives, and an abiding commitment to easing the hardships that come with the struggle to breathe. If we continue to work together, I forecast that the future will be one of cleaner air and a much improved quality of life for all Americans. Thank you.