Harris: U.S. Environmental Progress ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’

Feb 14, 2013

Washington, D.C. — The Subcommittee on Environment today held a hearing to assess broad environmental trends and indicators, including an examination of factors such as air and water quality, chemical exposure, environmental and human health, and climate change.

Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-Md): “Today we are going to talk about the greatest story never told.  In the last four decades, Americans have witnessed dramatic improvements in the environmental health of this country.  This is characterized by the improvement in air and water quality, less exposure to toxic chemicals, and growing forest areas, to name a few.  All the while, U.S. has experienced significant growth in GDP and per capita income.  This progress is due to a number of factors, including technological innovations, State and local efforts, and to some degree, the rational implementation of Federal regulations.

“In light of the President’s pledge in the State of the Union that he will ‘direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution,’ it is critical that any such actions be based on good, transparent science and not on imaginary hobgoblins.”

Since 1980, aggregate emissions of the six criteria air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have dropped 63 percent.  Over a similar period, there has been a 65 percent reduction in toxic releases of chemicals tracked by EPA.  Other indicators demonstrate a similar trend of reduced environmental risk.

Witnesses today provided perspectives on progress and challenges on these environmental trends as they relate to research and development, regulation, technological innovation, energy use and Americans’ changing standard of living.

The following witnesses testified:

The Honorable Kathleen Hartnett White, Distinguished Fellow-in-Residence & Director, Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Mr. Richard Trzupek, Principal Consultant, Trinity Consulting

Dr. Bernard Goldstein, Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health