Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 29, 2023, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Good Neighbor Rule to reduce harmful smog-forming pollution from power plants and other industrial facilities.
Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Today, we are here to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized Good Neighbor Plan—a topic that is personal to me and the one million Delawareans I’m privileged to represent.
“Before examining the specifics of EPA’s Good Neighbor Rule, we need to first understand why addressing cross-state air pollution is especially important for downwind states.
“As many of us know, air pollution is bad for our health, bad for our planet and bad for business, creating real economic hardship for communities that breathe dirty air.
“In Delaware, we have made great strides in cleaning up our state’s air pollution over many years. We have invested millions of dollars in clean air and energy technologies. Yet, despite all of our efforts, some parts of Delaware still do not meet EPA’s health standards for air quality.
“Why, you may ask? Well, what some people forget is that air pollution knows no state boundary. Pollution from sources in one state does not just stop at the border. The pollution controls—or lack thereof—in some states impact the air quality in others.
“And, as it turns out, a number of upwind states have not made the same clean technology investments, or they have refused to operate the technology full-time that has already been installed.
“For too long, many Americans living in downwind states have suffered in part because upwind neighboring states won’t clean up their ozone pollution.
“According to EPA, ozone pollution, also known as smog, is one of the most prevalent cross-state air pollutants in the United States. For those that may not know, ozone pollution chokes and inflames peoples’ airways.
“Ozone is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with lung diseases like asthma. The pollutant can also travel hundreds and, sometimes, even thousands of miles. Left unchecked, ozone can cost Americans billions of dollars every year in health care costs and missed work days, not to mention lives lost.
“The effects of this cross-state pollution on downwind states are staggering. For example, emissions from other states account for 94 percent of ozone pollution in Delaware. That means no matter how hard we work to protect our communities from dirty, smoggy air, the vast majority of air pollution lies outside of our state’s control.
“As my colleagues have heard me say, when I was privileged to serve as Governor of Delaware, I could have shut down every emission source in our state’s economy, and we would still have been out of attainment of ozone air health standards. This was due to upwind states’ dirty emissions. Downwind states need cooperation from our upwind neighbors and EPA to ever have healthy air to breathe.
“And, we aren’t alone. Delaware, like many states on the East Coast, including Maryland, sits at the end of what I like to call ‘America’s tailpipe.’ Most of the air pollution in our states comes from outside sources—such as power plants, factories and vehicles.
“That’s why we need a national strategy to address pollutants like ozone. Fortunately, when writing our clean air laws, Democrats and Republicans alike were especially concerned with the plight of downwind states. Under the Clean Air Act’s direction, EPA has an obligation to forge partnerships with states and make sure everyone is doing their fair share to address cross-state pollution.
“And, that’s exactly what EPA did earlier this month when issuing the latest Good Neighbor Plan to help downwind states clean up smog pollution—really to follow the ‘Golden Rule’—and ensure states treat their neighbors the way they would like to be treated.
“In addition to being justified morally, EPA’s science-based rule has well-defined economic and health benefits. For example, this rule will create up to $13 billion in annual net benefits and healthier air for an estimated 80 million people who live downwind. That means fewer missed days of work and school, fewer emergency room visits and fewer premature deaths.
“These reductions are also achievable. In fact, many upwind polluters already have the necessary pollution controls installed but have chosen not to run them full-time. Under EPA’s rule, the more than 270 power plant units with these controls will have to run them full-time by 2024. To me, that’s not an undue burden on upwind states. It’s basic fairness and common sense.
“The other upwind polluters will simply have to install the air pollution controls that are already required in many downwind states.
“Let me close by saying that while it’s easy to get wrapped up in numbers and statistics when talking about EPA regulations, the Good Neighbor Rule is about basic fairness. It’s about protecting Americans who are breathing dirty air that’s coming from neighboring states.
“As a recovering Governor, I know firsthand how deadly and costly out-of-state air pollution is for us in Delaware, and we are not alone. So, on behalf of all Americans, especially the more than 25 million children and adults in our country living with asthma, I say thank you to EPA for the new Good Neighbor Rule.”