Statements and Speeches
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Nov. 10, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) spoke on the U.S. Senate floor in opposition to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) legislation attacking the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution rule – or “Good Neighbor” rule.
Sen. Carper’s speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
“Mr. President, I am compelled to rise in opposition to this resolution, which would block the EPA’s “good neighbor” clean air rule from being implemented.
“Before I talk about the real-world impacts that would result if we block this new clean air rule, I’d like to go back in time 21 years ago when this body debated the last major update to the Clean Air Act.
“That day, we weren’t debating how to weaken or delay our clean air laws. We were considering legislation -- bipartisan legislation -- that would improve our clean air laws and make them stronger.
“89 senators approved the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, signed into law. And we’re all better for it.
“I believe that we can protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. The Clean Air Act is one of the best examples of this.
“For every dollar we’ve spent installing new pollution controls and cleaning up our air, we’ve seen 30 dollars returned in reduced health care costs, better workplace productivity and saved lives.
“In other words, fewer people are getting sick and missing work because of the Clean Air Act. Just last year, it’s estimated that 160,000 lives were saved from the clean air protections in place.
“Here’s some more good news. Our economy didn’t take a slide because of these protections, either. Quite the opposite.
“Since President George H.W. Bush signed the bipartisan Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, electricity rates have stayed constant and our economy has grown by 60 percent.
“Despite the successes, more needs to be done. We know more than we did 20 and 30 years ago about how pollution impairs health. We know even more about how pollution travels from one state to the other. And we know more about how to curb that pollution in ways that make sense and are cost-effective.
“My state of Delaware has made great strides in cleaning up its own air pollution – investing millions in clean air technology. Unfortunately, air pollution knows no state boundary and easily drifts from state to state.
“Delaware, like many states on the East Coast, sits at the end of what’s known as America’s tailpipe. That means most of the pollution in Delaware isn’t caused by sources in our state. It’s caused mainly by power plants in Ohio, Indiana, and other states in the Midwest. In fact, 90 percent of Delaware’s air pollution comes from beyond our boundaries.
“As Governor of Delaware, I could have shut down our entire state economy and we would still have been out of attainment of public health standards. This is pollution we need our neighbors to clean up. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
“Sadly, many of our upwind neighbors have not invested heavily enough in new clean air technologies.
“Some states have even built taller smokestacks so the pollution would fall on neighboring states, keeping their air clean and our air dirty.
“At the end of the day, downwind states can spend millions of dollars to clean up their act, but unless we require upwind states to make serious reductions, then states like mine won’t get much healthier and people will continue to get sick and die.
“For all Delawareans and others living in the so-called "tailpipe" states, I say enough is enough. The EPA and courts agree. This is why the EPA has implemented this new Cross-state Air Pollution Rule.
“This rule follows the intent and direction of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. It ensures that we all do our fair share to reduce air pollution.
“That’s the way it should be. I always try to live my life by the Golden Rule, to treat others the way I want to be treated. That’s why I think this rule is a fair one. My state shouldn’t have to suffer because other states aren’t required to clean up their act.
“Furthermore, even if you ignore the fairness and equity arguments for the Cross-state Air Pollution Rule, it’s still a no-brainer because the cost-to-benefits ratio of these new protections is so overwhelming.
“This rule also will save up to 34,000 lives every year, roughly the number of people who watch the Red Sox play at Fenway Park. All these great benefits will be negated if this resolution passes.
“To my friends who are thinking about voting for this resolution let me ask you this – What if the prevailing winds in this country blew from East to West instead of from West to East as they do now?
“What if those of us who live along the East Coast, from Virginia to Maine chose to operate older, dirty coal fire electric plants? What if we built tall smoke stacks that sent the harmful emissions coming from our plants upwards to be carried by the winds away from our regions only to end up in the air breathed by people living in the states to our West?
“What if by operating these older, dirtier power plants we lowered the cost of electricity along the East Coast while raising it for our neighbors in the Mid-West?
“And, what if by operating these older, dirtier power plants we decreased the healthcare costs associated with dirty air for Americans living along the East Coast while increasing healthcare costs for Americans living in the Mid-West?
“I’ll tell you what they’d say. They’d say it’s unfair. They’d say we shouldn’t be able to get away with polluting their communities year after year. They’d say somebody should right this wrong. They’d say, haven’t you heard about the Golden Rule that admonishes all of us to treat others the way we’d want to be treated. They’d say enough is enough.
“Here are the facts. The technology exists to end this scourge of pollution. Utilities all around the country have already installed it. In doing so, they’ve put tens of thousands of people to work, including hundreds in my home state of Delaware. The utilities have the money. We have a trained workforce that wants to go to work. We just need to act.
“A clean environment and strong economy can go hand in hand. We don’t have to choose between them.
“Defeat this proposal and give your neighbors, their kids and grandparents, air to breathe that won’t send them home from school or work or off to the emergency room and into a hospital, or worse yet, take their lives.
“Please join me and vote no against the motion to proceed to this resolution. Thank you Mr. President.”