|7:12 PM EDT||
Laura Richardson, D-CA 37th
Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to speak on Richardson amendment No. 2.
This amendment would direct $5 million for clean air grants, which were cut by nearly 15 percent in the current legislation.
Air pollution is a national problem. According to the EPA, approximately 127 million people live in counties that exceed at least one of the health-based national ambient air quality standards in 2008. New health-based standards for ozone will likely increase this number.
Mr. Chairman, I represent a region that's home to the largest port complex in the Nation and consists of some [Page: H5638]
of the busiest freeways and railways in the country. However, the area also suffers from poor air quality, which has led to much higher rates of asthma and cancer than the current national average.
Exposure to dirty air causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and results in serious health problems, such as the aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, difficulty breathing, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, adverse effects on learning, memory, IQ, and behavior, as well as cancer.
Improvements in air quality lead to greater productivity, fewer sick days, and less money spent on health care to address air pollution-related problems. State and local air pollution control agencies have the primary responsibility to implement our Nation's clean air programs that are required by the Clean Air Act. However, due to this current recession, State and local governments are increasingly strapped for resources and are finding it ever more difficult to carry the Federal Government's
share of funding this responsibility.
Because of the continuing adverse impacts of this recession on State and localities, air agencies will continue to make more painful decisions, such as reducing or cutting air programs that protect our public health. So in other words, we took 10 steps forward and now we're taking 20 back.
Mr. Chairman, I have seen firsthand that clean air grants are effective, when you consider, in an area of mine that's home to 16.8 million people and is one of the smoggiest areas in the Nation, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is one of the air pollution control agencies for Orange County and Los Angeles urban areas, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties as well. Clean air agencies also assist companies in being able to help them to comply with Clean Air Act regulations. This
assistance has allowed many businesses to expand and to create jobs.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support clean air, support public health, and support American jobs. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.