Statement Of Nancy Witt
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
Iowa City, Iowa
April 15, 2003
My name is Nancy Witt, and I have been asked by Senator John Kerry, a presidential candidate, to read the following statement. AI salute all of you who have gathered in Iowa City today to stand up for our environment. I join you in your concerns for the new EPA regulations. We must not be led down the path that falsely provides us with the choice of either growing the economy or protecting our environment. We can do both. Since Inauguration Day of 2001, the Bush administration has been fighting to roll back environmental and public health safeguards. They started by weakening the standard for arsenic in drinking water and since then they have tried to weaken clean air and clean water protections, open valued public lands to exploitation, and slashed funding for five conservation programs. Now the Bush administration is considering whether or not some Americans - namely seniors - deserve less protection from environmental harm than others. While all Americans pay the price for environmental deregulation, our seniors are at greater risk for pollution.
Seniors have been found highly susceptible to heart and lung sicknesses that can be severely aggravated by air pollution but rather than to take that greater danger into consideration when it sets pollution standards. The Bush administration wants to do just the opposite by rolling the values the federal government places on senior citizens' life and well being with a process called cost/benefit analysis. The administration plans to claim that some environmental and public health protections aren't worth the cost because the government has been overestimating the value of a senior citizen's life. In plain English, the administration is saying that it is simply cheaper to let seniors get sick than it is to force industry to cut pollution. This regrettable action is consistent with other Bush administration decisions on the environment. The administration is determined to undervalue conservation and our health and overvalue the corporations that pollute the environment. In 1995, the Republican Congress tried to institute the same kind of policies of so-called Regulatory Reform legislation. Fortunately, a grassroots effort from around the country stopped that misguided effort in the Senate. I hope that citizens will voice their concerns to the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Congress once again so instead of rolling back environmental protections, we will ensure cleaner, safer, healthy environment for citizens of all ages. Thank you very much.