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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the EPA-Chrysler Partnership on Hydraulic Hybrid Technology, As Prepared

As prepared for delivery.

Right now in Detroit the next generation of cars is on display – proving not only the growing strength of the auto industry as it recovers, but also that America’s automakers are developing products beneficial to our health and our wallets. While attention focuses on Detroit and the cutting-edge clean energy technology on display there, we’re also making history here at EPA’s Ann Arbor National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Lab.

Today, I’m proud to join with Chairman Marchionne as we begin a new partnership to take the vehicles of tomorrow one step further. We will be bringing together the resources and talents of Chrysler and the EPA to explore innovations that will power the cars of the future while making our nation cleaner, healthier and stronger as well. Thanks to the work of EPA’s scientists and American innovators, entrepreneurs and automakers, one cutting-edge technology we’re looking to develop is already in use.

Hydraulic hybrids – which provide a cost-effective way to improve fuel efficiency – are being used by some of our nation’s ports to haul equipment, by cities and towns across America to pick up trash and by UPS delivery trucks on the road today. Now we want to take the advances of hydraulic hybrids even further. EPA and Chrysler are exploring ways to make this innovative technology available and affordable to consumers by working to employ the technology in light-duty vehicles starting with minivans.

Developing a hydraulic hybrid minivan has the potential to improve overall fuel economy by 30 to 35 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent. In city driving, fuel economy could be improved by up to 60 percent. These are the types of innovations and partnerships we want to encourage – the kind of innovations we hoped to spark when we announced President Obama’s clean cars program last year. We want to continue working with Chrysler and other partners on long-term efforts to cut greenhouse gases and increase fuel economy.

We also know that more fuel efficiency means less pollution. It means reductions in greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change and jeopardize the health and prosperity of our future. It also means cuts in the pollutants that pose more immediate threats to our health, emissions that aggravate asthma, for instance, and other health challenges. According to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. That is almost three million more cases than were counted just a few years ago in 2005.

That puts new urgency behind this push to make our vehicles cleaner and more efficient than ever. The clean car standards, and the technology they help spur, will be instrumental in cleaning up the air we breathe and keeping Americans healthy.

Finally, this innovation is the right move at the right time for our economy. Better fuel economy can save drivers hundreds of dollars a year at the gas pump – and thousands of dollars over the life of efficient vehicles. As they spend less of their paycheck on fuel, they are also sending less money overseas to import oil. Instead, they’ll be investing in American-made technology that supports jobs here at home and opens up our nation to new global markets.

We’re already seeing hopeful signs on that front. Chrysler has committed to hiring 1,000 new engineers and technicians to work on small and midsize cars, and General Motors plans to hire 1,000 people in Michigan to develop low-emission electric vehicles.

And let me make one last point about the economic benefits of cleaner running cars. The same CDC study that charted the increase in asthma also found that, in 2008 individuals with asthma missed 10.5 million school days and 14.2 million work days because of their asthma. As we gather to celebrate innovation as the backbone of our economy, we have to recognize the importance of ensuring that our kids aren’t missing 10.5 million school days a year because they’re getting sick. When we talk about staying ahead of our global competitors, we have to understand that we can’t afford 14 million sick days in the American workforce. That is just another example of why strong environmental protections are good for our economy.

The partnership we’re marking today shows that – if we take the right steps – we can preserve our climate, protect our health and strengthen our economy all at the same time. With those opportunities in mind, EPA is counting on America’s unrivaled capacity for ingenuity and innovation. We’re proud to be working with Chrysler to support good, green jobs today and to position our nation to compete for the innovative jobs of tomorrow. We look forward to a strong partnership with Chairman Marchionne and everyone at Chrysler. Thank you.