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Adirondack Council 30 th Anniversary, Essex, NY

    Thank you for inviting me to be here today to celebrate the Adirondack Council’s 30 th anniversary of protecting the environmental health and preserving the wild character of this great park.

    The Adirondacks are a source of pride for New York state and a natural treasure for the entire nation. I know there are many spectacular vistas throughout the park’s 6-million acres, but I’m sure there are few more beautiful than this one here overlooking Lake Champlain.

    35 years ago, EPA was created to clean up places already polluted, and to protect pristine areas like the Adirondacks.

    Today, as we look back on our accomplishments, we can be proud to say that America ’s air is the cleanest it has been in three generations – and we are not done yet.

    Since 1970, we have cut emissions the cause soot, smog and acid rain by more than half, even while our nation’s economy has grown by 187% - clear evidence that a growing economy and environmental results can, in fact, go hand-in-hand.

    Acid deposition has declined by one-third here in the Adirondacks and throughout most of this region. This market-based solution has decreased emissions faster and at a far lower cost than anyone anticipated, while achieving near-perfect compliance.

    Earlier this year, EPA reached an important milestone in our continued march towards cleaner air. The implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule, known as CAIR, will result in the pollution reduction from coal-fired power plants in the eastern U.S. by nearly 70%. Based on the success of the cap-and-trade model of the Acid Rain Program, CAIR will cut utility pollution that travels beyond state boundaries, and provide $100-billion in health and visibility benefits.

    Simply put, CAIR has greater public health benefits than any other rule initiated by EPA since the phase-out of led in gasoline.

    I want to thank the Adirondack Council for your support of this historic rule. Like you, I believe that CAIR will further reduce acid rain in the AdirondackPark and provide health benefits for every New Yorker.

    President Bush is committed to building on this progress of providing all our citizens with healthier, more breathable air. But while the CAIR regulation is an important first step, it does not provide the same levels of certainty that only the President’s Clear Skies Initiative can.

    Rather than battling in court against a handful of polluters, EPA is pushing for Congress to pass Clear Skies – a permanent nation-wide solution that will result in immediate, substantial reductions in pollution, and help ensure that energy costs remain stable and affordable.

    While rules and regulations are an important part of our mission – more solutions exist. As Administrator of EPA, my goal is to accelerate the pace of environmental progress to address the challenges of the 21 st Century. Effective, permanent legislation, such as Clear Skies, ensures a long-term mechanism is in place to achieve large-scale national protections.

    Once again, I want to thank you for inviting me here today. The Adirondack Council has been a steadfast advocate for this park and the health of New York state’s residents. I appreciate and share your passion to protecting our environment and providing the next generation with a healthier, safer environment in which to live, work and play.

    I believe we have time for a few questions.