SHAHEEN: REDUCING AIR POLLUTION WILL PROTECT HEALTH AND WELFARE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE CITIZENS

November 09, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday to support the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and emphasize the economic and health benefits of reducing air pollution. Below are Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today in strong opposition to the efforts by Sen. Paul to nullify the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

As we all know, his resolution would strip the EPA of its authority to protect our air from certain kinds of air pollution emitted by power plants. That rule was put in place specifically to protect downwind states, like New Hampshire, from air pollution that originates from outside our borders.

I am particularly bothered by attempts to stop these protections because in New Hampshire, we’ve been fighting for them for over a decade and they are long overdue.

Clean air is a bipartisan matter for us in New Hampshire.  As my friend and colleague Sen. Ayotte noted on the floor last night, “In New Hampshire, we have a long, bipartisan tradition of working to advance commonsense, balanced environmental protections.”  I couldn’t agree with her more.

She and I know that even if we turned-off all local sources of manmade air pollution within our state’s boundaries, we would still have parts of the state with unacceptably high levels of pollution, because of overwhelming air pollution which comes in on the air currents from the Midwest.  In the Northeast, we are the tailpipe for the rest of the country.

So in 1997, when I was Governor, New Hampshire joined with seven other Northeast states to demand that the EPA begin cracking down on transported air pollution. 

This is what I said at the time:

"When you can climb Mt. Washington in New Hampshire and see smog blown in from the Midwest, it's clearly time for a national crackdown on air pollution. …It's time to address the major sources of pollution that are fouling our air and affecting the health of our people. We've done our part in New Hampshire to cut down on emissions, and it's time for the EPA to get tough on major polluters upwind.”

These pictures of Mt. Washington, the highest point in our state and the Northeast at 6,200 feet, show very clearly the impact of this pollution.

It is confounding to me that we are here fourteen years later, still debating transported air pollution.  The time for debate is over. 

The air quality improvements from this rule will benefit over 289,000 children at risk for asthma in New Hampshire.  In my state alone, air pollution is estimated to cost businesses more than 17,000 lost days of work due to health problems.  And tragically, health problems from air pollution are estimated to cause 123 premature deaths per year in New Hampshire.

In response, we’re hearing the same old arguments that forcing polluters to clean up will hurt our economy.  But we know that’s not true. 

Talking points about “job killing regulations” ignore the fact that a recent economic analysis by the Political Economy Research Institute found that the EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the proposed mercury rule will create 290,000 jobs per year over the next five years in important sectors like construction, craft labor, and industrial manufacturing.  Companies like ThermoFischer Scientific, which has a plant in Newington, is a leading manufacturer of environmental monitoring equipment and a shining example that good policy creates jobs right here in the U.S. 

By reducing air pollution, these protections are estimated to provide about $640 million in benefits to the New Hampshire economy.  Nationwide, the health and environmental benefits are estimated at $120–280 billion each year.

That’s because when air pollution comes across our state borders, it’s our New Hampshire companies who are forced to make up the difference. Without these rules we have an unfair system, where the burden of keeping our air clean falls disproportionately on downwind states like New Hampshire.

Higher air pollution costs our businesses through loss of worker productivity and greater medical expenses.  And it affects our critical tourism industry, which depends on the clean air of the White Mountains and the health of our beautiful forests, lakes and streams.

In New Hampshire, our tourism and outdoor recreation economy supports 53,000 jobs, generates $260 million per year in sales tax, and accounts for 8% of state GDP.  Transported air pollution has a direct impact on this industry and the quality of life of New Hampshire’s 1.3 million citizens.

It is time for EPA to move forward with their Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.  I urge my colleagues to reject the resolution by Senator Paul and protect the health and welfare of our citizens.

Press Contact

Press Office, (202) 224-5553