WASHINGTON - APRIL 25 - Following is a statement by John Stanton, vice president, National Environmental Trust:
President Bush addressed concern over rising gas prices today by announcing plans to waive the Clear Air Act summer fuel requirements.
"Instead of cracking down on oil companies for price gouging, the president has opted to repeal clear air protections for asthmatic children at the outset of smog season."
"The oil industry is breathing a sigh of relief, but the rest of us aren't. Waiving the Clear Air Act does not solve our nation's energy problems; it just leaves million of Americans breathing dirtier air."
"These proposals are just the latest in a long line of failed short-term solutions. Bush can't undo five years of negligence overnight, but he can still ensure that our nation has a brighter energy future by supporting stronger fuel economy standards today."
During April and May, gasoline refiners switch their fuel blends for the summer months to help reduce smog.
On hot summer days, nitrogen oxide pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cars, trucks and other sources is baked into ozone smog, resulting in "code red" air quality. Smog poses a serious threat to children and seniors, triggering asthma attacks and even causing permanent lung damage. Recent studies have shown that kids who play outside in high-smog areas are more likely to develop childhood asthma.
To help combat this problem, EPA requires gasoline refiners to reformulate gasoline sold in the smoggiest areas; this gasoline contains less VOCs, such as benzene (which is also a hazardous air pollutant that causes cancer and aplastic anemia, a potentially fatal blood disease). Other polluted areas can ask EPA to include them in the reformulated gasoline marketing program.
Even EPA disputes the notion that clean air protections are to blame for higher gasoline prices. To learn more, see EPA's past testimony before the House Energy & Commerce Committee: "The run- up in gasoline prices earlier this year was primarily the result of a steep increase in crude oil prices. We believe that environmental regulations have had a minimal effect on gasoline prices."
For the full testimony go to: http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Hearings/07152004hearing1335/Holmstead2109.htm