Statement Of Gail Ruderman Feuer
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Los Angeles, California
April 29, 2003
Gail Ruderman Feuer
Natural Resources Defense Council
I am Gail Ruderman Feuer and am here on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has over 600,000 members across California, and on behalf of the senior members of my family. I decided to bring a photograph of my family, which includes my mother who is a proud person in her late 70's. Every year more than 60,000 people in this country die prematurely from tiny particulate, the pollution in the air they breathe and many of these people are senior Americans. Every year Americans die from heart disease, cancer and stroke, and chronic lung diseases. All of these diseases have been linked to air pollution.
We hope that EPA, today when as it hears the testimony from senior Americans will recognize the 35 million older Americans as valuable as the rest of the Americans.
We hope you will change this approach and abandon it from future rule-makings. Our real concern is that EPA is going to be on a path of rollbacks of important regulations to reduce air pollution. This has been alluded to under the Clear Skies Initiative, which is proposed by this administration, we will see significant increases in the amount of pollution allowed into the air over the next decade and one half. You have heard some of the numbers: of increases in sulfur nitrogen dioxide and increases in smog-causing oxides and dramatic, five times, increases in mercury. This is a very serious and troubling development that should be abandoned. Likewise, under the New Source Review Regulation that EPA has proposed, there would be an enormous loophole in the Clean Air Act, which has protected us for generations. Under that loophole, existing businesses–when they change their operations–instead of having to put on state-of-the-art controls as they do now--will be exempted and continue to pollute into the air. Senior Americans will be hit hardest by these rollbacks and it is your responsibility to make a change. And, if you are serious about your aging initiative, we would encourage you to not just study what is happening to senior Americans but to put your money where your mouth is.
I have specific proposals. One is immediately drop the senior death discount and to treat all lives as if they had the same value again, which all administrations before this administration, have done. The second is to abandon the Clear Skies Initiative and the New Source Review proposal. Obviously, there has been a lot of fanfare about this, but if you are serious about protecting senior Americans, and all Americans, this is what the EPA had to do. And it is very California-specific, two air plans currently being proposed for the state of California–one for the South Coast Air Basin and one for the San Jaoquin area–both those air plans do not achieve clean air. The one for the South Coast, with which you are familiar, and EPA has been participating in these discussions, falls three hundred times per day short of achieving clean air and that is a shocking shortfall for clean air. It means that unless there is a dramatic change, we will not have clean air in the region. And while air is getting better, last year, 49 days the region was in violation of federal air quality standards and still had very high levels of particulate matter and other pollution in the air. I hope that EPA will take a greater role. EPA has said that it will not accept responsibility for emission reductions in this plan. I think it is important for EPA leaders, for EPA, to say that there is a huge problem out there and we will commit to these measures and specify the measures that it will reduce pollution from ports, from airports, from diesel equipment, from existing diesels and diesel vehicles. These are things that EPA can and must do–if it is truly committed-- to reduce the air pollution that impacts seniors and all Americans across the country.