Statement Of Hon. David K. Levdansky
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
April 23, 2003
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 39th District
I represent the communities in the Mon Valley from the city of Clairton on south in the Mon Valley to the City of Monongahela in Washington County. I came here today to listen to comments that are being offered, but given the opportunity, I don't hesitate to offer a few comments myself. There is no doubt of the scientific evidence that seniors and kids are more susceptible to illnesses as a result of breathing dirty air. Ground level ozone, smog, soot, pm10's, pm 2.5's - all of these have an impact. And I see it in an increasing number and amount of lung diseases, asthmas and cancers, especially in people in the Mon Valley. What I am concerned about in my judgment is the EPA and this Administration's lack of effort to deal with the causes of these pollutants. New Source Review ought to be a mechanism whereby power plants that were built in the 1950's - many of them some of them in my district -- have never been subject to the requirements of the Clean Air Act under New Source Review. It is high time that we do that. And we ought to do not just for our citizens, but for the people that live downwind of us. These facilities that produce these pollutants affect the health of people in our community and in those communities and counties and states upwind from us. But is it also true that some of those pollutants come from downwind states: West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. I would urge the EPA if they want to do something for us, for western Pennsylvania and for all Americans, then they should start applying New Source Review in a meaningful fashion. While you are at it, I am an angler. I spend a lot of time fishing, especially at this time of the year. I have seen the tests that have been done in Western Pennsylvania on our trout. Our trout have elevated levels of mercury. Where does that come from? Is someone running around our streams and dumping mercury in our waterways? No. Mercury is carried from the emissions from the plant, it forms in the rain, and gets deposited and we have elevated levels of mercy. It would be nice to see the EPA address this issue as well.
Now to get to this proposal by the OMB to place a value on a person's life. I would say how do you place a dollar value on a human life? Are professional lives more valuable than working class people - than blue or pink collar workers? Is an accountant's life worth than a truck driver? Is a banker worth more than a bank teller? Is a CEO's life more valuable than the laborer of that company? Isn't the quality of one's life as important as the length of one's life? Will the EPA attempt next to place a value on the quality of one's life? If we are going to value the life of a senior different than we value the age of a middle person, are they going to determine the quality of one's life next? Using a person's age, I would submit, to determine a life's value, really discriminates against Pennsylvania and especially western Pennsylvania. And that is because we in western Pennsylvania have a higher preponderance of senior citizens, and that is mostly because our economy has not grown in the West as well as others in comparison. Finally, let me say this, I am not an attorney, I am an economist by trade. Let me read from a story in the Associated Press, "Economic analysts say there is no consensus of how to calculate the worth of a program against the age of those who would be most affected. To some it is akin to trying to determine the value of life." For me, placing a dollar value on someone's life - a young person, middle age, or elderly - inherently is a value judgment of that person's life. And I believe a judgment about a person's life should only be made by God, not by OMB or some EPA government bureaucrat. This EPA and OMB proposal represent immoral science at its worst, and I would urge its rejection.