Statement Of Robert Smith
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Los Angeles, California
April 29, 2003
A Senior's Approach to Environmental Problem Solving
I can't help but notice that there is only one woman and five men on the "Listening Tour" panel on the Environment sponsored by the EPA and UCLA's Public Health Department. Let us have equal representation on future panels, 50% women, 50% men.
Seniors and other citizens have been listening to politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate executives promising to solve environmental problems for too long.
If we senior citizens, the rest of our citizens and thousands of non profits (Examples: Earth Policy Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute, Union of Concerned Scientists, Experimental Cities and others) present workable solutions for clean air, water, food, and energy, will the EPA and government agencies implement them.
Here are a few of the many solutions that exist and have been stymied by corporations and our local, state and federal agencies.
Conservation: Car pools, fluorescent bulbs, turning off lights and other appliances when not in use, water conservation, fuel efficient cars/buses/trucks, reusable packaging, recycling, etc.
These would provide major savings, but there is a downside. Los Angeles had a drought from 1987-1992. DWP asked their customers to conserve water. In 1992 water savings peaked at 30%---guess what!!! DWP raised our water rates as a result of our water conservation---but never lowered them when the drought ceased.
Alternative Energy: Solar, wind, clean fuels, etc. California has a cash rebate for customers who install solar energy. Several months ago Judge Pulsifer of California's PUB tried to sneak by a bill that would implement a fee of 2.7 cents per kilowatt hour for all the people and businesses that have and will install solar energy. It took a lot of letters, emails and telephone calls and we defeated it.
It has been estimated that if we utilized solar, wind and new technologies they would produce enough clean energy for the entire United States.
Pollution: The technology exists for eliminating pollution. Guess what, the government gives non polluting businesses emission credits. Corporations that pollute can buy these emission credits and continue to pollute.
Natural Resources: Forests purify water. Within the United States more than 60 million people in 3,400 communities rely on National Forest Lands for their drinking water, a service estimated to be worth $3.7 Billion per year. New York City, with its population of nearly 17 million, recently discovered just how valuable these services are worth. They were told the city needed a water purification plant that would cost $8 billion to build and $300 million a year to operated (Cost, $11 Billion over 10 years). After analyzing the situation, city officials realized they could restore the forest's watershed to its natural condition (destroyed by logging) for only $2 Billion, thus avoiding the need for the purification plant and saving the taxpayers $9 Billion.1
These are just a few of the solutions that already exist.
In closing, I would like to thank the EPA and UCLA's Public Health Department for this opportunity to provide them with the means to clean up the environment. I also want to admonish the Bush Administration for proposing the "Senior Health Discount" where our value as human beings is discounted 37 %. Instead I propose the "Politicians, Bureaucrats and Corporate Executives Death Discount" which would be 95% (This may be too low).
If Politicians and bureaucrats spent as much time solving environmental problems as they do for fund raising most of these problems would have been solved. If corporate executives spent as much time on environmental problems as they do on raising their salaries, corporate benefits, avoiding taxes (offshore corporations), eliminating competition and union workers, underpaying their employees and stealing their retirement funds, these problems would be insignificant or no longer exist.