Statement Of Katy Hubener
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
San Antonio, Texas
April 8, 2003
Blue Skies Alliance
I am Katy Hubener and I am with a North Texas air quality group, the Blue Skies Alliance. We have more than 3,000 supporters and affiliates, whose primary residences are in North Texas. A significant number of the supporters are seniors or part of a large baby-boomer population soon to be seniors. Today I speak not only out of concern for those seniors but the millions of breathers who struggle with perilous air quality.
Today, I want to speak on behalf of Earl and Alma Berman who are terribly concerned that their lives have dropped in value from 6.1 million to 2.1 million under the new calculation used by the Office of Management and Budget. Today, I also speak for seniors, Will and Sue Pope who are concerned about the dramatic undermining of New Source Review, which they have found to be a valuable tool to reduce emissions from one of Texas's largest toxic emitters and the state's largest hazardous waste incinerator. Today, I speak for senior Ken Ranson who jokingly comments it is either Dallas's vanishing skyline or glaucoma that is causing problems with his eyesight. Lastly I speak for a growing number of aging populations including the baby boomers like my mother, Anne Hubener, who suffers from chronic asthma and whose life is being cut short by air pollution.
On behalf of Earl and Alma Berman and the millions of Americans like them, we find concern with the devaluing of seniors' lives by the Office of Management and Budget - Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs new guidance document about cost/benefit analysis that the EPA uses to conduct analyses with the underlying theme is that human lives, especially seniors', are worthless in modern pollution controls. This assumption, naturally, is used for regulatory decision-making process against the elderly, who have fewer life-years remaining. Moreover, life-years saved in the future are discounted just like statistical lives. In the agency's final analysis, the lives of those over 70 are valued at 63 percent of those under the age of 70, 2.3 million compared to 3.7 million for people my age.
I am going to give you an article from "OMB Watch" that highlights the problem, On behalf of Ralph D. and the millions of Americans like him, we urge the EPA to rescind its proposal to weaken New Source Review. New Source Review is based on two simple concepts: when plant investments result in increased emissions they require state-of-the-art controls; state-of-the-art pollution controls must be applied to every major source of pollution. This rule is explicit and simple. The Agency admits that the Clean Air Act New Source Review provision has been one of the most successful environmental programs, according to Agency documents and is solely responsible for the reduction of three hundred million tons of pollution and we find significant flaws in the EPA's logic in regard to these rule changes that will ultimately allow for increased emissions from the nation's oldest and dirtiest industrial sources.
On behalf of Ken Ranson and Anne Hubener and the millions of Americans like them, we urge the EPA to denounce the President's air pollution plan, his so-called Clear Skies Initiative. We know, according to EPA documents, statistics that were presented to the Edison Electric Institute. Those statistics illustrate that the President's plan allows more than twice as much SO2, one half as much times of NOx, five times as much mercury than the Clean Air Act allows. In addition, the President's pollution plan does nothing to address CO2, the chief ingredient leading to climate change.
Finally, American senior citizens are at risk for adverse health attacks including premature deaths due to pollution. Today, more than 35 million American are age 65 and older, and that number is expected to double by 2030. Improving the quality of life for senior citizens is an important and increasingly high public priority. Fine particle bits and ground level smog, or ozone, are air contaminants that attack cardio-pulmonary systems, reducing lung and heart functions for even robust Americans. Today's senior citizens spend roughly 11 percent of their total expenditures on health care compared to about five percent for other consumers. All told, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung diseases cost Americans nearly 248 billion dollars in direct medical costs in 2002 and resulted in a matter of 49 million dollars in lost productivity. It is important to note that an estimated 30,000 Americans die prematurely due to pollution in our skies emitted by power plants alone. The brunt of this pollution is borne by senior citizens and with that, I am going to leave with you a report.
It is important to know that the top three killers in the United States are cardio-vascular disease, cancer and lung disease. All three of these are worsened by air pollution exposure. Bad air affects people's lives. We cannot afford these losses. With that I am going to introduce for the record these documents: "Death, Disease and Dirty Power," two editions of the "New England Journal of Medicine," and one of "OMB Watch." Thank you.