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Press Briefing on SIP Call for Regional Ozone Reductions-Washington, D.C.

               Carol M. Browner, Administrator
              U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                 Remarks Prepared for Delivery
    Press Briefing on SIP Call for Regional Ozone Reductions
                         Washington, DC
  October 10, 1997

     Welcome and thank you for being here.

     In July, I signed new public health air quality standards that will improve health protections for millions of Americans of all ages.

     Today, we take the next significant step to reduce harmful air pollution over a large portion of the country.

     Although this measure was designed to help our cities meet the current, existing air quality standard for smog, it is also going to play a key role in helping them achieve the newly updated standard in the years ahead.

     Specifically, we are taking action to reduce sources of what we call "transported" ozone -- the kind that travels long distances and contributes to the smog problems in far-off areas, as well as locally.

     This is a huge problem in the eastern half of the country.  Transported ozone from distant sources is a major cause of unhealthful smog levels in many of the region's metropolitan areas.  Reducing smog-causing emissions from these sources is absolutely essential to ensuring healthy air for many millions of Americans.

     Transported ozone is a regional problem.  And we believe that regional problems require regional solutions.

     That is why, for the first time ever, EPA has worked jointly with a group of 37 states to find ways to reduce transported ozone -- and to come up with a cost-effective, affordable strategy to get the job done.  This work employed some of the most advanced air quality modeling ever.

     In today's action, EPA is providing 22 states with proposed targets for reducing the nitrogen oxide emissions that are causing these high levels of regional ozone.

     How these targets are achieved is up to each individual state.  But the regional plan we came up with envisions that the best and most cost-effective way to reduce these emissions is to focus on large industrial sources -- primarily major utility plants.

     Large, fossil fuel-burning utility plants are a major source of the nitrogen oxide emissions that we must reduce.  By focusing our efforts on them, we can get the greatest amount of reductions for the lowest cost.

     To ensure that these reductions can be achieved in an affordable way, the plan offers a market-based emissions trading strategy, similar to what is now used by the acid rain program, to encourage the use of new pollution reduction technologies.

     The fact is that the technology to reduce ozone-causing emissions -- and do it cost-effectively -- already exists.

     This plan is workable.  Its goals are achievable.   And it is going to bring cleaner air to millions of Americans.

     In fact, we firmly believe that once it is given a chance to work, the vast majority of cities that are projected not to meet the newly updated ozone standard will be able to do so without imposing any additional new local pollution controls or measures.

     Let me commend the states for working with each other, and with EPA, to develop this innovative, unprecedented regional approach to reducing air pollution and improving public health in our country.

     Thank you, and now to your questions.