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Diesel Bus/Truck Retrofit Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Prot ection Agency,
at the
Diesel Bus/Truck Retrofit Conference
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

May 30, 2003

Thank you, Don (Welsh), for that introduction. I also want to thank the City of Philadelphia Air Management Services and the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association for sponsoring this conference.

In a letter to a friend describing her thrill at riding for the first time in a locomotive, the philosopher Ayn Rand wrote, A There is nothing as glamorous as a brilliant achievement of the human mind, and a diesel engine is certainly that. @

Well, I don't know how many people today who would describe a diesel engine as glamorous, but there= s no doubt that diesel engines have, since their invention at the end of the 19 th century, literally helped drive the engine of the modern economy. From buses, trucks, and trains to construction and farm equipment, diesels are the big engines that can.

Unfortunately, however, one of the things diesels engines also do is degrade the quality of the air we breathe. The small particles and various gases they emit pose a threat to public health and contribute to smog. But that is changing. Through technological advances and the use of cleaner burning fuel, today= s diesel engines burn cleaner and more efficiently than ever.

As you know, EPA has, over the past several years, issued various regulations that will mandate the use of cleaner diesel engines in the years ahead.

We have set new tail pipe emissions standards for passenger vehicles and large diesel trucks and buses.

We are requiring the reduction of the sulfur content in gasoline and diesel fuel.

And we have proposed a rule to curb the harmful health effects of pollution from diesel-powered non-road vehicles - such as large construction and farm equipment.

There's no doubt that the years ahead will see ever-greater numbers of cleaner burning diesel engines helping drive our economy. But we don't have to wait until 2006 when diesel fuel will contain significantly less sulfur or 2007 when the new generation of diesel engines arrive to make a big contribution to improving the quality of the air we breathe. Proven emission controls and cleaner fuels are available now and can be retrofitted to today's engines.

That is why we are here today B to promote our Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program in this region and to help you find the many tools available that will assist you in retrofitting the diesel engines in your fleets.

This program is a direct reflection of President Bush's strong belief in building strong partnerships among government, industry, and communities to help meet the goals we all share for cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land.

We have seen, in just the past two-and-a-half years, the success such partnerships can produce B from water quality improvement to land clean-up and redevelopment. We can achieve similar results through our Voluntary Retrofit program.

I don = t need to spend much time singing the praises of this program because others today are covering that in full detail. But I do want to say this: your interest in this program B as demonstrated by your attendance here today B reaffirms my belief in the great potential voluntary partnerships hold for achieving the next generation of environmental progress. We look forward to working with you, as partners, for cleaner air through cleaner diesel.

There = s another program I want to highlight for you that's aimed at promoting cleaner emissions from diesel engines B our new Clean School Bus USA initiative.

Every day in America, 24 million children travel safely to and from school on 440,000 school buses. Those buses travel more than 4 billion miles each year - that's a lot of driving and that's also a lot of air pollution.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to significantly reduce pollution from school buses and improve the health of those who ride them - by replacing older, dirty buses with new "clean" buses - that are up to six times cleaner than the older buses. So while a school bus is the safest way to transport children, we can also make it the healthiest way to go to school.

Of course, just as with other diesel engines, replacing older buses with new, clean buses isn't easy and it isn't cheap. That's why the EPA, in partnership with numerous organizations from the environmental, health, and business communities, along with numerous state and local officials, launched Clean School Bus USA.

The goal is simple - to ensure that by the year 2010, every public school bus on the road in all 50 states is a clean school bus, emitting less pollution and contributing to cleaner air. We are funding this program with a $5 million appropriation that we are making available to local school districts to help defray the costs of upgrading their bus fleets.

Because we're using a cost-sharing program, our Clean School Bus USA program will leverage funds already budgeted for school bus replacement, giving districts more for their money B and I know that's something school boards and taxpayers always appreciate.

In addition, we are pleased that as a result of various environmental enforcement actions we have taken, more than $20 million nationwide will be available to help fund clean school bus efforts.

These two efforts are just part of this Administration's commitment to leaving America's air cleaner than we found it. That commitment also includes proposed legislation that would bring about the most significant reduction in emissions from power plants in decades B the President's Clear Skies Act of 2003.

It also includes our SmartWay Transport program B a voluntary partnership to achieve substantial reductions by the year 2012 of emissions from ground freight carriers. Already such corporate leaders as CSX, FedEx, UPS, and Roadway have signed on as charter members of SmartWay Transport. And please be sure, we're always ready to welcome new partners aboard.

As I said a few minutes ago, the business of promoting cleaner burning diesel engines isn=t necessarily glamorous. But it does show what we can achieve B brilliantly B when we work together, as partners, toward common goals.

So thank you for being here today. We look forward to working with you, as partners, to help make America's air cleaner and healthier for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you.