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New York City Clean Coalition Designation Ceremony, New York, New York

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
New York City Clean Coalition Designation Ceremony
New York, New York

April 22, 2003

Thank you Mayor Bloomberg for that introduction. It = s great to celebrate Earth Day in a city that has taken its commitment to protecting the environment to a new level. Today, New York becomes the newest A Clean City @ B a designation that marks this city = s efforts to promote alternative fuel vehicles and cleaner fuel in an effort to reduce air pollution and limit our nation = s reliance on foreign sources of fuel.

President Bush announced in his State of the Union address a strong commitment to alternative fuel technology, specifically to developing an affordable, clean, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen produce absolutely no pollution, emitting only water vapor, and as such hold great promise for the future of our environment. In order to gain the important environmental and fuel efficiency benefits these cars can provide, the President has committed $1.7 billion over the next five years to developing hydrogen-powered vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support them.

At EPA, we are working alongside our industry partners to provide technical support and help steer fuel cell development and hydrogen fuel production toward technologies with the best potential for environmental benefit and long-term success. As we work to make these cars a standard mode of transportation, here in New York, you are making good use of the alternative fuel vehicles and fuel sources that are already available.

New York boasts the largest municipal fleet of hybrid electric vehicles in the nation, the Department of Sanitation operates over 350 ethanol powered cars, and refueling stations for clean natural gas, ethanol, and electric recharging have been set up all around the city. In a city, where cars, buses and trucks combined generate 80% of carbon monoxide emissions, using cleaner fuel and vehicles will make a big difference in the quality of the air New Yorkers breathe. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported on a study conducted by the Harlem Hospital Center that found 25% of children in Central Harlem suffer from asthma B a shocking statistic and a stark reminder of the epidemic asthma has become.

While we do not know all the causes of asthma, we do know that air pollution can make asthma worse. That is why, EPA and this Administration are working hard to ensure that every American B especially our children B breathe air that is clean and healthy.

Just last week, EPA announced a new rule that would dramatically reduce by 90% harmful emissions from diesel engines used in construction, farming, industrial, and airport service equipment. The Natural Resources Defense Council was right when it said, "our bold proposal will be the biggest public health step since lead was removed from gasoline more than two decades ago. @ As part of this proposal, we are also requiring sulfur reductions in non-road diesel fuel of 99%, from 3400 parts per million now to 15 parts per million in 2010. New York is already leading the way in this area. By utilizing this type of ultra low sulfur fuel in all of your diesel public buses you are setting an important example for other cities to follow.

It = s important to note that this new non-road diesel announcement is part of a series of rules that have put stringent new emissions requirements on all mobile sources. From cars and SUVs to buses and snowmobiles, we have addressed the full fleet of on- road and off-road vehicles. By addressing our mobile sources in such a comprehensive manner, we will be reaping tremendous environmental results. When fully implemented, these programs will reduce air pollution by nearly 7 million tons and save over 23,000 lives a year. Of course, mobile sources are only a piece of our work to improve air quality.

Initiatives such as President Bush = s Clear Skies Act B the most important reduction proposed by any President for the electric utility sector B and Clean School Bus USA B improving the pollution performance of our public school buses, are furthering our efforts to provide Americans with cleaner air. The federal government can do a lot to protect our environment and improve the air, but ultimately the success of our efforts depends on cities, communities, businesses, and millions of citizens making a choice everyday to do what = s right for the environment.

Earth Day is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded of this shared responsibility and for each of us to renew our commitment to protecting the environment. I want to thank the city of New York for their environmental leadership and I look forward to signing a Memorandum of Understanding this morning that will ensure a healthier environment for this and future generations of New Yorkers. Thank you.