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126 Petition Press Conference-Washington, D.C.

Remarks Prepared for Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
126 Petition Press Conference
                        Washington, D.C.
                       December 17, 1999                             

     Today we are announcing a first-ever action under the Clean Air Act that will bring cleaner air to more than 100 million Americans in 18 states.
     We are granting the petitions of four states that have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to protect them from pollution generated by 392 facilities in 12 other states.
     As a result of today's action, those 392 facilities will be required to reduce their combined emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides by more than 500,000 tons a year.
     The petitions granted are from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
     Today's action is an important first for air quality in this country.
     We are providing public health protection for Americans who live hundreds of miles away from significant sources of pollution.
     The people in these communities have been suffering because air pollution is carried by the winds across state borders. Our action today also provides cleaner air for hundreds of thousands of people who live in the communities near these pollution sources.
     The facilities affected by today's action are large electric utilities, and industrial boilers and turbines in Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
     The facilities named here today will have until May 1, 2003, to achieve their emission reductions of nitrogen oxides. Our rule provides a trading program for those facilities to find flexible, cost-effective ways of achieving these reductions.
     Petitions are also pending from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. We will act on these in the near future. But as a result of today's action, these four states will also receive cleaner air, since many of the facilities they are asking us to control are addressed by the petitions approved today.
     We know smog causes lung damage and other breathing disorders. But it can also trigger and aggravate asthma attacks. And asthma has become a national problem.
     In one 15-year period, asthma rates for all Americans jumped by 75 percent -- affecting 15 million Americans. The medical costs associated with it are expected to hit $14.5 billion next year.
     And it is children who are being hit the worst. Children under five years old, for instance, suffered a 160 percent increase in asthma rates. Asthma is now the most prevalent chronic disorder for children under 17.
     Combined with the actions we have taken -- and will take -- to require cleaner vehicles and cleaner fuels, we are continuing to work for clean air and clear skies so millions of Americans will breathe easier.