EPA Administrator speaks at National Press Club luncheon

Channel: Fox Business
Published: 06/03/2019

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler will speak and take questions at a National Press Club luncheon. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street. Headquartered...



Transcript
The place where news happens, my name is allison fitzgerald kojak. I am a correspondent, npr news and i'm the president of the national press club. Today we have a terrific program for you and we invite you to listen, watch or follow along on twitter at the hashtag. Npc live for those watching us today on c-span or any other program. Please be aware that our audience today consists of members of t ...
e press. Press club members and members of the general public, so any applause or other reactions you hear, aren't necessarily from the working press. I'D like to take a moment to introduce, though our guests, at the head table today to my far left. We havephillip brasher executive editor at agriculture, pulse communications, eva mccann, congressional correspondent at spectrum, news rod, kook rowe, a reporter at a & e news, ryan jackson, the epa chief of staff and a guest of our speaker skipping over the podium. We have laurie russo, president of stanton communications and the co-chair of the npc headliners team skipping over our speaker. For a moment we have jennifer de loi, energy and environmental policy reporter at bloomberg. News kevin wincing he's a retired us navy, captain chair at fca america and the npc member who organized today's luncheon. Thank you coming and finally, yannick ellic senior editor at the epoch times and the host of american thought-leaders.

I also want to acknowledgesome additional members of the national press club who helped organize this luncheon donna line. One leche is the other co headliners, a team leader. We have the press club staff liaison linda underwood chef, susan delbert, who prepared your meal and mpc executive director bill mccarran. Thank you. All [ applause, ] andrew wheeler was confirmed as administrator of the environmental protection agency last november, but his tenure leading the agency started months earlier when his predecessor, scott pruett, resigned amid a series of ethics scandals. Wheeler has a long history at the agency. His first job in washington, in fact, was at the epa where he worked on chemical regulations, pollution prevention and right to know issues. He went onto serve as a staff member to senator james inhofe of oklahoma and george voinovich of ohio and finally, as chief counsel and staff director at the senate, environment and public works committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the epa. During that time he worked mostly to reduce environmental regulation. He left capitol hill in 2009 and headed to k street where he served as a lobbyist and one of his biggest clients was the coal company murray energy. Mr. riller returned epa last year when president trump nominated him to become deputy administrator and then took over when when mr.

wheeler left, i mean mr. pruit left. Excuse me. He recently told cbs news that, while he thinks climatechange is an important issue, the threat is too far in the future to focus on today. Instead, he said the epa and its colleagues around the world should focus on ensuring that everyone has access to clean drinking water. I'M sure we'll have lots to talk about this afternoon, so please join me in giving a warm national press club welcome to epa administrator andrew wheeler, [ applause ] good afternoon, and it's a pleasure to be with you today. Thank you alison for the warm welcome and thank you kevin for organizing this lunch, since this is the national press club i'd be remiss not to use this opportunity to address my friends in the media um. Every year since2001 gallup has conducted polling on the same question. Do you think the quality of the environment in the country as a whole is getting better or getting worse? Every year, since 2001, more people have said getting worse than getting better, often by large margins. We need to fix this perception and we need the help of the press. The public needs to know how far we've come as a nation protecting the environment, and here are a few environmental indicators, the need to get more attention from 1970 to 2017. The us has reduced the six main criteria: air pollutants, seventy three percent, while the economy grew over two hundred and sixty percent between 2000 and 2017 fineparticulate matter, concentrations in the u.

s. dropped by roughly 40 percent. According to the wealth world health organization, the us has some of the lowest fine particulate matter levels in the world more than five times below the global average seven times below chinese lat levels and well below france, germany, mexico and russia from 2005 to 2007 teen. The u. s. reduced its energy related co2 emissions by 14 percent. In contrast, global energy related co2 emissions have increased over 20 percent since 2005. On the waterfront we've made similar progress over the past decades. The us has transformed many of its rivers, lakes and bays from dumping grounds to mecca's of tourism and economic activity. In the 1970s morethan, 40 percent of our nation's drinking water systems failed to meet even the most basic health standards. Today, over 92 % of community water systems meet all health-based standards. All of the time i could go on with more stats and more evidence of our nation's progress, but my purpose in doing this is not to minimize the environmental challenges or threats that we face today.

The press actually reminds me of that on a regular basis, but the media does a disservice to the american public and sound policy making by not informing the public of the progress that this nation has made. This progress is the result of many people across the country, state and local governments, citizengroups businesses and even the media. But just as important are the career employees of the epa. Next year we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. Political leadership comes and goes at the agency, but the career employees of the epa have been on the job for almost 50 years. Pollution is on the decline. My focus now is to accelerate its decline, particularly in the most at-risk communities. We recognize that environmental, public health issues disproportionately impact low-income and minority communities. These are the communities most likely to live near hazardous sites or suffer from outdated infrastructure. These monomeric ins that deserve our full and immediate attention. That is the lens to which president trump shaped his agenda and thatis, the lens to which we have shaped ours. There may be no better example than our renewed focus on the superfund program, the federal program for responding responsible for cleaning up some of the nation's largest hazardous sites.

In the past. It wasn't unusual for a site to sit on the superfund national priorities list for decades. The waste west lake landfill in missouri home to radioactive waste from the manhattan project has been on the npl list for nearly two decades. The end of last year, we approved the plan to finally clean up that site. We believe that a site on the national priorities list should be just that a national priority. We recognize how important itis to get these sites clean and return to safe, productive use and fiscal year, 2018 epa deleted all or part of 22 sites from the national priorities list, the largest number of deletions in one year since fiscal year 2005. We are in the process of cleaning up some of the nation's largest most complex sites and returning them to productive use. Bribe. I prioritize the superfund program. We are prioritizing the health and well-being of the communities that live near these sites, we're taking the same approach with our brownfields program, which provides grants and technical assistance to help communities clean up contaminated properties. Later this week we will announce nearly 65 million dollars in brownfields grants to149 communities across the country. We are targeting these funds to areas that need them.

The most 19 percent of the selected recipients are in urban areas, while 81 percent are in on urban areas. Areas with populations of a hundred thousand or less overall, forty percent of the grants will go to the smallest of communities with populations below 10,000. In addition, 40 percent of the selected communities are receiving brownfields funding for the first time ever. This means that we are reaching areas that may not have been previously neglected. We'Ve also made it a priority to prioritize opportunity zones. These are the economically distressed areas that can be designated for preferential tax treatment under the president's newtax law. We reward. We are awarding brownfields grants and opportunity zones from detroit to huntington west virginia to belfast maine, just to name a few. I hope the press will help us tell this story. The purpose of the brownfields program is much more than just revitalizing individual properties. Its purpose is to be a catalyst that will spark an economic revival in forgotten and struggling communities. Attention from the press will amplify our efforts and drive more investments into these neglected area.

The same mindset has carried over into our regulatory approach. There is no disputing who benefits from complex confusing regulations. They can only be interpreted by high paid lawyers and consultants. Small businesses cannot suffer thesecosts, so we are focused on providing regulatory certainty and clarity that every american can understand. This is the goal of our new waters of the u. s. definition. Our ultimate objective is that property owners should be able to stand on their property and tell if a water is federal or not without hiring outside professionals. In order to achieve this, we are clearly defining the differences between federally protected waterways and state protected water ways. The same day, the proposal was signed. We convened a work group of epa and army corps scientists to explore the ways we can accurately map which waters are in and which waters are not. Finally, we are providing the certainty, the american publicneeds in a manner that will be upheld by the courts.

That is why we are closely following the language of the clean water act and the relevant supreme court decisions right now, because of litigation. The 2015 rule is in effect in 22 states, while the previous regulations issued in the 1980s are in effect in the remaining 28 states. Our proposal would end this confusing patchwork and establish national consistency. Just as we are concerned about the clarity and quality of our rule, makings, we're also concerned with the intent and the impact. Our role within the executive branch is to implement the law and create a fair and level playing field. That is the motivation behind ournew, affordable, clean energy rule or ace which we intend to finalize this month. I'Ve been accused of rolling back the clean power plan, but you can't roll back something that never went into effect. 27 states challenged it and supreme court intervened and issued an historic stay. The cpp would have asked lo and that'll come americans to bear the cost of the previous administration's climate plan. Our analysis or one analysis projected double-digit. Electricity price increases, 40 states, rising energy prices, hurt low and middle-income americans the most particularly senior citizens and minorities. Our ace proposal would adhere to the four corners of the clean air act and allow the states to establish standards of performance that meetepa's emissions guidelines.

This will give states and the private sector the regulatory certainty they need to invest in new technologies and continue to provide affordable and reliable energy. When ace is fully implemented, it would reduce u. s. power sector co2 emissions by 34 percent below 2005 levels. We'Re applying the same approach to vehicle standards through our proposed safe, affordable fuel-efficient vehicles, rule or safe rule. It'S no secret that the previous administration's approach focused almost exclusively on energy efficiency and carbon dioxide reductions. We do not believe this is the right approach right for public safety or the environment, and here's why the average age of vehicles on the road today is at a record high of 12years. In 1990, the average age was eight years. The lack of fleet turnover creates a host of problems. Research shows that passengers are more likely to be killed and older vehicles compared to newer ones, and we know that older vehicles are less efficient and pollute more. So our approach is to achieve multiple policy goals by locking in emission reductions and getting older vehicles off the road which will save lives and improve air quality compared to keeping the 2012 standards in place. The preferred option in our proposal would reduce the cost of owning a new car by more than $ 2,300.

These savings would help americans purchase newer cars and trucks and thereby improving the environment andsaving lives. We believe this approach is better for the entire country for all 50 states, as opposed the previous administration's approach, which sought to incentivize certain kinds of technologies that are limited to a wealthy subset of the population and affluent areas with the infrastructure to support them. A study by the department of trans rotation found that about two-thirds of households with battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have incomes higher than $ 100,000 and, according to report from the university of california berkeley's energy institute, the top income quintile has received about 90 % Of all electric vehicle tax credits, the vehicle standard should not be used to play favorites our job at epa is to level theplaying field and look out for the health and safety of all americans, not just those that can afford electric cars on the vehicle front. We'Re also moving forward with a new proposal to help areas around the country, particularly urban centers reduce air pollution from mobile sources. This will help areas and non-attainment reach attainment which alleviates the regulatory burdens and brings back jobs and opportunity. The new proposal is our cleaner trucks initiative. Since 2000, nitrogen oxide nox emissions in the us have been reduced by 52 %. However, it is estimated that heavy-duty trucks will be responsible for one third of all, nox emissions from transportation by 2025, and it's been nearly 20 years. It'S a cpa, lastset nox emission standards for heavy-duty trucks. By working closely with states and the private sector. We will reduce nox emissions from heavy-duty trucks, which is not required by statute or by court order, but it makes sense to do and will help more areas of our country reach attainment. We intend to issue our cleaner truck proposal at the beginning of next year.

The final example of our new regulatory mindset that i like to share is our forthcoming, lead and copper rule. It'S been more than two decades since the letting copper rule was updated. We are committed to getting it done this year and we were committed to getting it done right when i was briefed bymy staff on our progress last fall. I told them that i was very concerned that the last mile of lead surface lines that are replaced are not the most corrosive in our country. It is estimated to take 20 to 30 years to replace all of our lead surface lines across the entire country. I was worried that we would end up replacing pipes in affluent neighborhoods first leaving low-income communities to the end. These communities can't afford to wait the 10 to 20 years to have their pipes replaced. So i directed our team to ensure that we are addressing the most corrosive pipes in the most at-risk communities. First, they are currently working on mapping where allthe, lead and copper pipes across the country are located and when we roll we roll out our proposed rule. We will be able to focus our work on the most impacted areas of the country. I could go on with more examples. Our permitting reforms, weren't sure that all businesses can navigate the permitting process and not wait years for decisions on the international front.

We'Re elevating the focus on water issues from infrastructure to marine letter to clean drinking water. According to the united nation nations, 1,000 children die every day from a lack of potable drinking water and proper sanitation. To me, that is a crisis, and it's a crisis that we know how to solve. Acrossthe board. We have realigned and refocused our efforts on the most in need, as the president has said, the forgotten men and women are forgotten no longer before i conclude, i can't pass up the opportunity for one final note to the press. You may think that i ignore our press clippings, but i don't i read them every day and i've noticed five things. Well, i really only have time for five that some of the press consistently gets wrong about the administration and this epa in particular one that the environment is getting worse already addressed this earlier. We'Ve made tremendous progress since the 1970s, and that needs to be noted. More often too, that i wasa former co lobbyist so actually an energy and environmental lobbyists. I represented dozens of country companies, including a solar company nuclear and including an an air quality management agency in california. Three that we are rolling back regulations like cpp or mats cpp was never implemented, so it can't be rolled back and mats was completely implemented. So we can't roll that back either.

What we're doing on mats is addressing the underlying assumptions and calculations that the supreme court asked us to look into for that meeting with the regulated community runs counter to environmental protection. How can we be effective regulators if we never talk to or meet with the people that we regulate and here's anotheruntold truth? The quickest way to correct an environmental harm is to often help the violator ensure a return to compliance. Long drawn-out enforcement disputes help no one, including the environment and finally, number five that there's an ongoing war or feud between the epa, political and career staff. That'S just not true. I started my career as allison said as a career employee at the agency, we're getting ready to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year. We still have 10 employees that start it with the agency 49 years ago. I'M not gon na give their names today, as i've told them all that they have to wait one more year before i publicly recognize them, but i hope all10 of them stay with the agency and we have a long, dedicated history of dedicated career employees. At the agency on that note, i'll be happy to take your questions i'll take something with me might answer a few of them here. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your attention and thank you for the opportunity to address the press club. Thank you very much. [ applause.

]. As i said, we have a lot of questions already, but please bring your questions after if you want, since you talked a lot about water, i just figured i'd start right in and ask you: what is the situation right now in flint michigan right now, flint michigan Is attainingthat the the water quality standards there we test their water and regular basis, we're working with the local city as well as the state we're still providing bottled drinking water to people if they need it. But but at this point the water quality in flint michigan is safe to drink, and that's one of the reasons why the president directed us to look at the lead and copper rule. You know we're not under a requirement to update that rule, but we want to make sure that there are no flint michigan's in the future um. You talked a little bit about auto emissions standards and i just want to make sure i understood what you're saying you'reessentially saying that increasing emission standards increase the cost of a vehicle, so thereby not increasing them, makes people more likely to buy a new car, and that Will overall reduce? Yes, you know a lot of people, don't realize that the automobile manufacturers are not currently meeting the standards today or last year, even and they have paid penalties to the to the government for failure to meet the standards and they do it in the way they do Very few companies actually meet the standards, some of them do it by trading some of them do it by other other programs, such as reducing air conditioning emissions or in the cars. But a number of companies are payingfines to the federal government every year and that is expected to reach by the end of the obama original proposal by 2025 of two billion dollars a year in fines paid to the federal government. That'S money that is then passed back onto the consumers when they buy their cars questionnaire, says this administration has rejected climate change issues and impacts at almost every turn and action. Do you think climate issues should play a larger role in your agency's actions? We are addressing climate change, the reason we're doing the ace regulation which reduce co2 emissions from the electric power sector by 34 %, but i'm 2005 levels is because we are moving forward to address climate change sono. We are addressing it, we're looking at methane. The our cafe standard will also reduce co2 from the automobile sector. So no we take climate change seriously and we we are implementing the laws that congress has given us and we are moving forward on on ace on cafe methane as well. During your deputy director confirmation hearing, you said quote, i believe that man has an impact on climate, but, what's not entirely understood is what the impact is.

Since you have been at the epa, has your understanding of man's impact changed or that one's typed out so that that's somebody who's prepared? We got some really. You know. I continue to have briefings from our careerscientists of the agency on climate change, as well as a number of other issues on a regular basis. I was a little critical of the national climate assessment when it came out last i'm just november december. The end of last year was mostly critical, though, on how it was being portrayed in the press, because all the press reports focused on the worst case scenario, the the rcp 8. 5, which even the un's ipcc, is moving away from and that you know the direction of The 8. 5 and the national assessment last year that was actually a direction by the obama white house to tell the career staff what to look at as far as worst-case scenario: soi thought that was political interference by the obama white house in that process. This administration did not stop that the session from going forward and we published it as it was, but i do think we need to take a more realistic look at the worst-case scenarios. All the scenarios going forward there's a lot of uncertainties when you get 50 75 years out, we need to better understand those uncertainties and do a much better job of explaining to people what they are and what they mean. Do you think that, though you should be preparing for the worst-case center? Is it it depends on the on the rcp 8. 5 i mean even the united nations is movingaway from that. So i'm not sure that that's the worst-case scenario we should be preparing for, but we that's part of why we need to do a better job of understanding, the uncertainties and the modeling, so we can figure out what is the you know? What do we need to prepare for? What is the right level to prepare for so this question sort of goes to what we've been talking about.

It says clearly, the trump epa is headed in a different direction than the previous administration. How do you see your direction or approach? Why i would say you know the obama administration almost single-handedly focused on climate change, which is a very important issue. Andwe are focusing on that. We are addressing it, but i think at the expense of other programs like the superfund program, the fact that we had 22 sites delisted last year, the most since 2005. We will have a similar number delisted this year, i'm personally taking a lot of time on these superfund sites and briefings by the staff to make sure that we are selecting the the the the right remedy to get these sites cleaned up and get past the the The lawsuits and the legal maneuvering from the responsible parties trying to make sure we have agreement and we can get these sites cleaned up and back in productive use and safeguard the people wholive around those sites. Last month we listed a new site so we're a while rodillas in we're also listing new sites. We listed seven or eight. I think, there's eight sites last month to the national priority list. One of them was a small town in west virginia mendon, west virginia. They have about 250 people now they from a high of 1200. That community has been hit really hard because of the environmental degradation is from pcbs in the area. You know i mean if you had this in the news every year for the last 20 30 years, who wants to move to that city and the people who live there now, who would they sell theirhouses to if they wanted to leave? We owe it to that community, even though there's only 250 people who live there and communities like that around the country to get those sites cleaned up and to give them the focus and the attention that they need.

There'S a lot of forgotten communities like that all over across the country and what we're trying to do at the agency through the superfund program and our brownfields program and our economic and the in focusing on the zip codes with them with the most economic dead rotation. Around is to try to give some help and support to those communities, so i think that's very important, very important for the epato focus on and you you, you discussed in your bryant when you were discussing brownfields, that 40 % of the grants were going to rural Small towns or rural communities - i guess the counterpoint would be shouldn't the money be directed to places where a lot of people live. It had more impact and we've done that a long time, the brownfields program - and we're still doing that. I think this is 20 proximate. 20 percent are going to large urban areas, and those are the areas, though, that have received a lot of the brownfields grants over the years. We did not just decide we're not giving to the large cities anymore. This is all done by career staffand by looking at each grant application as a competitive basis, and you know a lot of these a lot of these small areas. They deserve it to have this environmental, these environmental sites - cleaned up. You know the the pcbs that were produced and were used in minden west virginia didn't go to help the people who lived in minden at the time they went to help people in larger cities. We owe it to those communities to clean up their environment. Just like we owe it to people in urban areas too, but we're 20 % of our grants are going to large urban areas. This question is that many say you are doing industry's bidding at epa takingactions that favor many of your previous clients.

How do you address those concerns? Well, i'm not. We have very clear ethics regulations. My the the trump ethics pledge i've upheld that i've not met with any of my former clients. I'Ve not talked to my former clients, i'm so no i'm not doing anybody's bidding, but but president trump and the american people. This is. Why has apa defunded a two-decade national project to research, the impact of environmental pollutants on children says congress could start to continue the funding, but epa said it's a matter of appropriations, i'm not sure, i'm not sure which, which program. That'S that's referring to. You know we made a change in theleadership of our children's health office on this last year. Children'S health is very important. We we've asked for new funding this next year for a school initiative. We have a lot of programs across the entire agency to focus on on pcbs in schools or focus on lead in schools or drinking water in schools and they're all kind of separate and across the board. What we, what we're doing with this new healthy schools initiative, is to try to bring all that under one umbrella, to help school administrators and principals figure out.

What are the important renovations they need to make in their schools to make sure that children have had the healthy education where they goto school and a healthy school for a healthy education? We have several questions about roundup or glyphosate and, as they were, the first one is just quite simple: what's the epa's position on the safety of roundup, when that is you know currently, in litigation, there's been a couple cases out in california we've just and i believe We put the the new scientific review out for comment, but we do not believe it's a carcinogen, and this is in keeping with a number of other health organizations around the world, and this is it was a long-term study started at the agency before i got there By their career career scientists of the agency, okay, so that thatgoes against what the world health organization recently said, that the probable carcinogen - yes, the world health organization, is the only i believe, international body. That said that this has been looked at by a number of regulatory agencies around the world and we're in line and in keeping with where other regulatory bodies are. Okay, as personalized have. You visited any frontline communities in the last year and if so, what did you see and what policies are moving forward for them to help them be protected? I think this is a question related to pesticides and chemicals. I visited with a lot of farming communities around the country since i've been on the job. Also there's a numberof superfund sites around the country, i've you know might. During my first year i focused in getting out to all of our epa regions. We have ten regions around the country, i do all hands meetings in our regions and i take questions from our career employees until they're out of questions. So i'm trying to meet with as many communities around the country and to find out what is bothering them, as in minden west virginia earlier. This last month did a community meeting and took a lot of questions and stayed after to answer more questions from the people who live in that community and what is worrying them. Well, they're they're, worried about the the stateof their community and what may or may not be causing the health impacts that they see and we're moving forward with health screening and we're working in partnership with atsdr to screen the people who live there. I was, i was up in in new york, visiting a superfund site in new jersey and i'm also going out to a lot of the water bodies.

I was we need to make sure they were protecting our large water bodies. I was up in michigan with some of the local environmental groups, seeing what they do to help with wetlands restoration. I'Ve done that when the chesapeake bay here as well and the dc area and down in louisiana tomake sure that our coast is being restored. Following the the the oil spill in the gulf, been down there twice now, and i think it's important to get out in the field to see what we are doing to clean up the environment. There'S actually a question here about ocean plastics and they're concerned that ocean plastic pollution is getting much worse. I know epa doesn't have control over the world's oceans, but is there a role for epa to be a leader in trying to clean up ocean plastics? There is - and i was just at our g - the g7 environmental ministers meeting a month and a half ago in france and i'll be at the g20 environmentalmedia ministers meeting later this month, and that is a big issue for me. In addition to drinking water worldwide is also the ocean plastics. Sixty percent of the plastic debris in the oceans comes from six asian country's. If you look at the list of contributing countries, united states is ranked 20th, so we still need to do more here. We need to do a lot more on recycling in our country, but we need to work with the six asian countries that are producing sixty percent of the oceans, plastic debris and and work to clean those up at the epa. We have some international projects, one in panama, one in jamaica and one in peru, they're allhere in this hemisphere. But what i've done is the epa administrators talk to my counterparts at the eu, as well as canada and japan, and we're committed to taking a look at the pilot programs that we've all done individually and try to figure out what are the best pilots to go To the next level, with those six countries to try to make sure that those countries are reducing the ocean plastics that go into the oceans, because that it goes in the ocean and asia.

But it ends up on our beaches in the united states. Not to mention getting into the food supply and affecting the marine ecosystems. So we have to address this globally asa world, but there are some best practices out there and we're trying to figure out what are the best practices that can be replicated in countries such as sri lanka or vietnam that are contributing the plastics to the oceans. So we have a couple of pretty detailed questions on chemicals over before. Well, the first fda market basket, sampling of food found several instances of a surprisingly high readings of various p. Fas seafood and cake and grocery stores, public health groups in many states, say the epa needs to act more quickly to set a maximum contaminant level for pfa s, beef sauce. So it's p, fossa, p, foa, that's all right! So we we came outwith an action plan. Earlier this year, it's the most comprehensive action plan for a category of chemicals ever produced by the epa and our 49 year history, and we did that and under a year we had a lot of career staff working long hours to put that together and we're addressing It under all of our statutes epa and our 49 year history as a history of being very siloed. We have our air office, our water office, our lands office, our chemical office and we've had historically a difficult time working across those silos. What we did on our pas p foa action plan is try to break down those silos and have the teams work togetherand. We are moving forward on toxicity standards for the chemicals under our under our enforcement office on cleaning up where we find it. We'Ve already initiated.

Eight enforcement actions to clean up pas before where we find it we're also working. We'Ve worked with states on 20, more enforcement actions around the country, we're looking under our chemicals program to make sure we we test for this more i'm. I haven't seen a few blank faces in the audience on this one p, foskey foa they've, been in the environment. 4050 years it's the most, the most famous one would be the teflon pans. They came up on the teflon pans, there's also the chemical in scotchgard also thechemical and gore-tex clothing. So, if you think about it, you have it, everybody has in their in their homes. It'S been around for a long time and the problem is, it gets into the environment and it it's a persistent. It was it's a persistent violated biological accumulator. It doesn't. It gets in the water system, for example, and you have to clean it up, but the problem is that there are thousands of these different chemicals and they don't all have the same risk. But you also can't use the same test to test for each of them and you can't use the same method to clean them all up. So i know that there are people whowould like for us to move faster, but we're doing some ground baked breaking research and our research labs in cincinnati and in north carolina to try to identify the chemicals earlier to try to identify which chemicals are causing a health Problem and then what are the best cleanup solutions, depending on which which one of the compounds it is so that's.

This is a very complicated issue, but we have addressed this much faster than the agency has ever done for a chemical of concern like this. Before this run is about perchlorate and water, saying the epa reached the newly announced a proposed drinking water limit, that's three times higher than the previous limit for perchlorate anddrinking water. What'S the reasoning behind that, and that was a proposal - we've come out with three levels in the proposal: we're taking comment on that right now, and this is based on the most recent science, and this is something that our career scientists have been working on for several Years now predates our administration, but we put out the the proposal based on their recommendations and research. We know a lot more about perchlorate than we did ten years ago. It'S much more isolated than we thought it was, which is a problem in california. California has a standard in place and part of the proposals try to figure out. Where else is it a problem before yougo forward with a drinking water standard? That would require every drinking water system in the country to test for something, if it's unlikely to be in that and those water systems. You have to ask whether or not it's right to require everybody to test for it. If we know where the perchlorate was used and where it's found, we can focus our cleanup efforts in those areas. So we're taking comment on all of this. We haven't reached any conclusions yet and i encourage anybody who's interested or concerned about perchlorate. To please read the proposal: it's out for public comment and the federal register and send us your thoughts on it.

Um do you. I think youmay dress this in your prepared remarks, but do you see a role for the in the for the federal government? Not just the epa to support auto industry transition to electrification sure, but it's i don't think it's the epa's responsibility to decide that we're going to move to electric vehicles. I think, if, as long as we have a level playing field where manufacturers are able to produce the the cars that people want to purchase, then that's that's what we need to do. It'S it's not the epa doesn't and - and i think would be a misuse of our regulatory authority. If we decide that what everybody should or should not purchase going forward, we have tohave the standards in place for all types of transportation, but standards that would be applied to all all the types of vehicles, and you know it's important to remember. There there's been some criticism that that our standards would stop innovation. That'S i just don't believe that i think our automobile industry is incredibly innovative and they're going to continue to produce automobiles and cars and trucks that people want to purchase. It'S not the epa's job to try to determine what people are going to want to purchase five or ten years from now. It'S our job to set the standards and allow the marketplace to work, but to clarify the standards weren't specifically for electric vehicles, theywere for emissions right right. They were, they were the obama regulations. The only way they could have complied with the standards would be to have 50 percent eevee's by 2025. And that's so that's you, you don't have to say you have to have an electric vehicle, but if you set a standard that only electric vehicles can meet, then your de facto saying it has to be electric vehicle um.

Do you see a role for epa in the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology, and how important is that for kievan climate goals? Well, i think it's it's it's very important for achieving climate goals. I think department of energy is pretty much taking the leadon funding. Research for carbon capture and sequestration, i think the important thing would be to make sure that, once that technology is commercial and is able to be used across the country that we have the regulatory process and system in place to allow its use. But as far as research, we do some research in the climate area, of course, but our research is more at the other end of the process, not the not the energy technology side, which is more of a department of energy function. This questioner says the epa has plans to change the way air pollution. Related mortality is calculated a move that a recent new york times article says, would result infewer predicted deaths from pollution and make it easier for the administration to rollback the clean power act. What why is dpa changing the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution. A couple things i think, first of all, as i said in my remarks, that we're not rolling back the clean power plan supreme court issued to stay before it was ever. In effect, you can't roll back something that never took effect, but what we're doing? I think this is probably what the questioner is getting too how co-benefits are calculated and we had the matz decision. This is the mercury emissions that the supreme court found fault with the previous administration on the way, theycalculated cost-benefit analysis under the clean air act. Our matz proposal that we put out last year does change the way we calculate co-benefits. You know the important thing to remember on the mercury regulation was that 99 % of the benefits from that regulation.

This is a regulation, the supposed to reduce mercury from power plants, 99 % of the benefits actually were attributed to particulate matter. We already have particulate matter regulations in place. We have to particularly matter regulations that are set to to the to public health numbers and the mercury, because they couldn't justify the the the cost of the mercury reductions. They use the co-benefits argument of going further for for pm benefits, which is sortof, i believe, double counting. So what we're doing, though, is following the supreme court's case and the direction that the supreme court gave us in reviewing the calculations for the mercury standards, but i do want to assure everybody and everybody listening that you know we do not believe the mercury reductions will Be will be compromised at all by hour by hour. Look because we did both the cost-benefit analysis for the mercury reductions, as well as the technology review, which is required under the clean air act and under the technology review. We determined that the equipment has already been installed is already reducing. The mercury needs to remain in place, so we do not expect anyincrease in bricker emissions at all. What we're doing under this proposed for mercury is follow the supreme court's dictate to us on how we calculate cost-benefit analysis. We had a couple of questions about the coal industry. Basically, wouldn't i have to hear one person says that the president really ran on trying to save the coal industry and save coal jobs, and even though the industry seems to be shrinking all on its own. Because of market forces is epa and other parts of the administration, artificially propping up the industry, and should it be? No, i don't think we're artificially propping up the industry at all.

If i could answer it this way again, you know theclean. The obama administration's clean power plan or cpp basically declared war on the coal industry, and they went after one industry in particular, and and the clean power plan did not follow the clean air act, which is why i believe the supreme court issued their historic stay. What i believe the obama administration neglected in their in their irrational and thinking is the fact that you know worldwide. Coalesce'Ti has not yet peaked china, indonesia, india, continue to build new coal-fired power plants. Clean coal technology is developed here in the united states. What the clean power plan did was basically take the u. s. clean coal technology industry off line. If we don't develop, the technologies herethey won't get developed. There is more mercury deposited in the united states from asian power plants than all of the u. s. power plants.

Mercury is something that goes up into the atmosphere travels around the world, we're getting our mercury emissions deposit of the united states from the asian power plants. If you take the coal sector out of commission in the united states, you take the development of cleaner coal technologies from ever being developed and those technologies are then exported to other countries. I think that's a disservice to the environment, to service to our country and it's outside of the regulatory power of the of the agency to try to dictate what type of fuels wouldbe used, which is what the obama clean power plan did on. What our proposal. The ace proposal, which would go final this month is creates a level playing field, we're not dictating what percent should have electricity should come from coal right now we're about twenty eight twenty nine percent coal dependent we're used to be about fifty five to sixty percent. I'M it's probably going to go down a little bit from from where it is today. But the important thing is by the obama administration's actions it would have taken the development of new, clean coal technologies off the table, and no other country would do that. It'S not really. We develop the clean coal technologies, wedeveloped the cleaner technologies and export those worldwide, our methane emissions and we have doubled the amount of natural gas lng produced since 2000, and our methane emissions have decreased 15 %. Other countries such as russia, who are developing their natural gas they're, not reducing their methane, to the extent that we are here, we're doing it because of clean technologies that are being developed by the regulated community. You know the you know something that the the rail a community gets the the natural gas producers get that i don't think the sierra club does is the fact that methane is the product. If they're leaking methane, then they're they're leaking their product by working cooperatively with the rigthat industry, i mean we've gotten methane emissions down fifteen percent.

At the same time, doubling our production they're not doing that in russia they're not doing that in other countries and we produce our coal cleaner than most other countries. We produce our natural gas cleaner than other countries and we produce our oil cleaner than other countries. So it's not just when the united states exports our energy, we don't just export our energy, we also export our clean technologies and and we we don't trample on the sovereign rights of our trading partners. When we do that, we have two questions about the coin: the climate kids lawsuit. If it's facing it's coming up for a hearingin oregon. How do you assess that lawsuit? Yes, i mean legally, you have. I think it's it's a very interesting lawsuit. I don't think it's going to go much further. My you know as far as standing - and i know, there's been back and forth on the on the case. It'S gone up and back down again is going back up again now through the court systems, hasn't really been tried on the merits yet yeah, i think they're doing curious. Well, i think it's what what i think if we didn't move forward with with climate regulations, then people would have standing to challenge us for that as far as standing to challenge what might happen fifty orseventy years from now, i don't know that they - i don't know That they do theirs, but you know i say that and there's a lot of free thinking, judges out there that like to give standing to new groups all the time, so i'm not going to prejudge where that case may end up. Somebody asks your opinion of the green new deal.

Is it realistic or is it a job killer or you can fill in whatever you'd like to call it'we? Don'T think it's realistic, you know just to put on keep my epa hat on. We are a public health and environment agency and one of the things that we do - and i don't talkabout it enough - i try to talk about the career employees. All the time is our emergency response. We respond to emergencies around the country almost every single day. You know large and responses hurricanes tornadoes that people know about the read about in the papers, but there's you know small one car train derailments that we respond to, but we're responding to something everywhere in the country every single day when we have a large-scale incident, like The hurricanes last fall. We go in the ground when the first things we do is try to make sure that the grid is up and functioning in order to power, the drinking water systems. We consider the drinking water systems tobe a primary health function, and we have to make sure that we have a reliable electric grid to ensure that we have safe drinking water. What the green new deal does not do anywhere in it that i've got have read or read about it is that it values a reliable electric grid. Now there have been other climate bills in the past. You know there were climate bills that were debated when i was on the hill 15 years ago that at least whether they meant it or not, talked about a grid reliability in the language, at least maybe the preamble or the findings about the importance. I don't see that reflected in the green new dealthe acknowledgement that we have to have a reliable electric grid if for nothing else, for great events like this, but if nothing else, and so people at home can watch on tv in order to power our drinking water Systems around the country, you have to have electricity to do that and that's not a value. That'S in the green new deal.

We had several questions about your predecessor, so i will try to push them in together. I'Ve had 14 predecessors on the 15th, your most well. This this person asked when, when scott pruett was head of the epa, it was a difficult time at the agency and they said that morale was pretty low, given someof the ethics issues that he faced. Have you changed the atmosphere or mood in the agency staff and how, as he heads his tenure, made your job any harder? Well, i think there's a. There is always a change in morale and attitudes at an agency, any agency or department when you change from one administration to the next i've been in this and in and around washington, see started off at epa during the george hw bush administration. Actually was there the last two years of the george hw bush administration and the first two years of the clinton administration, and i can tell you there was a lot of unease at epa during that transition from thebush administration to the clinton administration. So there's always unease we're taking the first year of any new administration. What i've done since i've been the acting administrator last summer is. I visited all ten of our regional offices. I.


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