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Statement by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on the State of the Union

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Washington, DC (Feb. 4, 2020) — The following is a statement by U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on President Trump's State of the Union Address:

Tonight, I was honored to attend the President’s State of the Union address, and I wholeheartedly agree with the President: The State of our Union is strong. All Americans should be optimistic with the progress we have made over the past three years, and with the vision the President has for our future.

As we celebrate our 50th year of EPA, I am honored to lead an Agency with such a successful record. From 1970 to 2018, the U.S. has reduced the six main criteria air pollutants by 74% while the economy grew over 275%. And all six have seen reductions over the last three years under President Trump.

From 2005 to 2017, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 14 percent all while the U.S. became the number one energy producer in the world. And since 1990, U.S. natural gas production has more than doubled. Over that same period, methane emissions from natural gas production fell by over 16 percent.

Today, we are ranked number one in the world for access to clean drinking water. In the 1960s, more than 40% 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 the time.

Under President Trump, EPA is continuing its legacy of success. In the past year, EPA deleted all or part of 27 sites from the Superfund’s National Priorities List in FY2019, the largest number of deletions in a single year since FY2001. Deleting a site from the NPL not only lets the community know that the site no longer poses a human or ecological health risk, but also gives confidence to the business community that the land is once again ready for productive use. 

Additionally, under this Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $222 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits, for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of approximately 793 grants. Of these grants, in 2019 alone, EPA presented over $63 million in grants to over 160 recipients located in or serving communities that contain Opportunity Zones. Brownfields grants provide these communities with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets. This all supports President Trump’s vision of investing in often forgotten and abandoned areas, creating middle class jobs, and boosting the economy for all Americans.

I am also very proud of our joint work to re-designate 36 nonattainment areas across the country during this Administration. Formal re-designation from non-attainment to attainment demonstrates the commitment between the states and EPA to work together to improve air quality and protect public health. Some examples include Cleveland, St. Louis, Atlanta and Tampa. And in August 2019, EPA announced that the Columbus area is the first non-attainment area in the nation to meet the most recent federal air quality standard for ozone.

Also, the President promised to bring us better trade deals, and he is keeping his promise. Under the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, not only are we creating jobs for American’s from all walks of life, for the first time ever in a trade agreement, USMCA includes enforceable environmental provisions that all parties must follow, including goals to reduce marine litter.

I am also proud to say, this past year, under President Trump’s leadership, we have continued our history of success by finalizing several rules that will help further economic growth in all communities across our Nation all while protecting our environment and human health. At EPA we are taking a commonsense approach to regulating, while protecting our environment and human health. In the past year, we have finalized the Affordable Clean Energy rule which will reduce CO2 while allowing energy generation at an affordable price.

Our Navigable Waters Protection Rule redefines “waters of the United States” and provides certainty and a workable regulatory environment for our farmers, ranchers, landowners and developers. After five decades of constant litigation and uncertainty, our new rule significantly curtails the all-too-familiar practice of hiring teams of attorneys to tell them how to use their own land. Under our rule, farmers, ranchers and livestock producers across the country can refocus on feeding Americans, and developers can focus on building communities instead of meeting with consultants and lawyers.

We are also taking care of our nation’s water systems with our proposal for the first major overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991, which we announced in October. With this proposal, we are advancing the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure, and we are delivering on President Trump’s commitment to ensure that all Americans have access to clean and safe drinking water. Our proposal benefits all Americans including those in less affluent communities, and it requires testing in our nation’s schools and child care facilities.

At EPA, we will continue protecting the environment and human health while making smart regulatory decisions that support our economy and help create jobs. We have finalized 51 deregulatory actions, saving Americans an estimated $6.5 billion dollars in regulatory costs and we have an additional 45 actions in development projected to save billions more. Under President Trump’s leadership, our Nation is on a positive trajectory and will continue to flourish for the foreseeable future for all Americans, and at EPA we will continue the successful path the Agency has laid for the past 50 years.