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FY 2004 Budget Press Conference with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental protection Agency,
at a
FY 2004 Budget Press Conference
with the
Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior
Washington, D.C.

February 3, 2003

Thank you, Ann (Veneman). I am pleased to join you with you and Secretary Norton to discuss the President = s comprehensive budget request for the environment.

Before I do, however, I want to express my condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the crew of the shuttle Columbia. The loss of Columbia on Saturday morning is a terrible national tragedy.

It reminds us of the bravery of those men and women who have contributed so much to our understanding of Earth = s environment through the work that NASA has done in space over the years.

EPA is assisting NASA, FEMA, and other federal and state agencies in ensuring that the debris from the shuttle does not pose an environmental hazard to the recovery workers or nearby residents. We stand ready to offer whatever assistance we can to this sad task.

Secretary Veneman and Secretary Norton have given you an overview of the President= s environmental budget request. I have often said over the years that a budget is much more than just a spending plan; it truly is a policy document.

The proposed budget for FY 2004 reflects this Administration = s commitment to leaving America = s environment cleaner than we found it. It strongly supports our determination to build partnerships that get real, measurable improvements in environmental quality.

The budget fully reflects the obligation we all have B government, industry, indeed every American B to be good, faithful stewards of the natural environment which has been entrusted to us.

Last week in his State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to, A protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.@ Among the measures he called on Congress to enact are several far-reaching proposals to make America= s air cleaner and healthier. This Budget supports those proposals with real investments that will produce real improvement in the quality of the air we breathe.

The President= s budget strongly supports development of the FreedomCAR B an affordable, clean, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle B by 2015. He proposes a $19 million increase over last year, bringing spending on this and other advanced, environmentally friendly automotive technologies to $169 million.

He is also asking Congress for $182 million this year and $1.2 billion over five years to develop hydrogen production, storage, and distribution technologies, so that when hydrogen cars hit the show rooms, there will be plenty of places to A fill > er up. @

Of course, this technology is in the future. We need to do more today to improve air quality across the Nation. That is why the President = s budget request included $7.7 million to begin implementing his Clear Skies initiative.

Clear Skies would reduce by an average of 70 percent the emission of three pollutants from power plants B nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury B over and above what would be accomplished under the current Clean Air Act.

Clear Skies will clear the skies of more than 35 million tons of pollution over the next decade alone, saving thousands of lives and helping millions of people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses breathe a bit easier.

Working with Congress to achieve passage of Clear Skies is my top priority for the year.

The President = s budget also contains numerous other clean air proposals, including almost doubling spending on the Air Toxics Monitoring Grant program, which will allow us to better understand and address the hazards air toxics pose to both health and the environment.

I look forward, later today, to going into greater detail about EPA = s proposed budget for FY 2004. There = s no doubt that, taken together B across departments and agencies, such as DOE and NOAA B the President = s proposed budget strongly supports the environmental goal of this Administration B to leave America = s air cleaner, its water purer, and its land better protected than we found it. Thank you.