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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on Recovery Act Clean Diesel Grants at Port of Seattle, As Prepared

As prepared for delivery.

Right now, communities across the nation are hard at work pulling our economy up and out of the worst downturn since World War II. We see the importance of that just outside these windows, at a place where the local, national, and global economies come together. Here in Washington State, the transportation and material moving industries put more than 200,000 people to work in good jobs Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008. Countless others rely on those materials and services for their own jobs – in Washington State and across the nation.

Today, our economy is growing again for the first time in more than a year – and faster than at any time in two years. President Obama’s Recovery Act has cut taxes for the vast majority of middle class families and provided critical resources to local governments so they can keep teachers, fire fighters and police officers in their jobs. And one of the most significant achievements in the Recovery Act is its focus on sustainability, clean energy, and green innovation.

For the first time in a very long time, we have a President willing to stand up and say that the choice between economic growth and environmental protection is a false choice. That understanding has been in practice in this community for some time. Washington State and the industries working along these shores see every day how our local, national and global economic fates are tied together. They know that the same is true of our environment – whether we’re talking about the quality of local waters, or greenhouse gas pollution that affects our entire planet.

Over the years, the people here have worked to address the serious health and environmental challenges from a booming port and airport. They have led the way in both economic growth and stewardship of the environment. I’m happy to be here to support the continued work on both of those priorities.

I’m proud to announce today more than $16 million in Recovery Act grants for clean diesel technology in Washington State. These grants will help create jobs, clear the air, and strengthen the sustainable practices along the coasts of Puget Sound. They will give industry an infusion of much-needed funds at the same time they accelerate the adoption of innovative, green technologies across port, rail, and road activities. And that will have very real benefits for the people of this community.

Areas like this one that make their livelihoods from the trucks, trains and ships coming in and out each day are prone to high rates of cancer, asthma, and other pollution related illnesses. Those vehicles bring with them elevated levels of diesel exhaust. The Washington Department of Ecology calls diesel exhaust the state’s most harmful air pollutant – connecting it to seventy percent of the cancer risks from airborne pollutants. Those are sobering statistics for more than four million people in Washington who live and work close to ports, highways and other roadways where they are at high risk of exposure. As the mother of a son with asthma, I know personally the burden that pollution can put on children and their families in these communities – in terms of both anxiety and worry, and the family budget.

The grants we’re awarding today will help reduce dangerous diesel exhaust pollution in these communities. Over the lifetime of these grants, we will see reductions of almost 600 tons of dangerous particulate matter; more than 11,000 tons of the greenhouse gas nitrogen oxide; and almost 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Because of those reductions, EPA estimates that for every dollar we invest in clean diesel, we get $13 in public health benefits. Today’s $16 million Recovery Act investment will upgrade and retrofit more than 1,800 diesel engines. Along with lower emissions, we will also lower fuel costs for the boats, locomotives, trucks and port operations vehicles that are affected by these grants. And many of these projects will put in place innovative, emerging technologies that we hope to expand.

Finally, by putting green innovation, sustainable technology, and clean energy into action at these ports – gateways to the global economy – we can send a powerful signal to the world: America can ensure economic strength at the same time we protect our health and our environment.

This is part of the nationwide clean energy transition that is clearing the air and creating millions of jobs across America. President Obama is committed to rebuilding this economy and creating a new foundation for prosperity. In Washington State and across the country, we don’t have to choose between a green economy and a green environment. I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead as we build our green economy, create new jobs, and safeguard human health and the environment in every community. Thank you very much.