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Mr. Chairman, I rise to very strongly oppose the gentleman's amendment and associate myself with the remarks of the gentlewoman from southern California.
Before going to that, though, Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a moment to express my deep appreciation to both the work of my chairman and his ranking member putting together what I consider to be overall a very, very fine bill. I know of Mike Simpson's concern about those issues that relate to our environment and the interior especially. He is a fabulous chairman, assisted today by a very, very fine young person who is his staff director, not so young as he used to be, Dave LesStrang. But this fine bill also is put together by a cross-section of great staffers who are doing all they can to improve the conditions in which we live.
I rise to oppose this amendment in no small part because Ken Calvert and I over the years have shared the same problem. We live in a region known as the Inland Empire, and it is surrounded by beautiful, beautiful mountains. It's a wonderful area; but during much of our lifetime, indeed for decades, for 250 days-plus a year you could not see the mountains. How come? It wasn't because of the fog. It was because of 7 million automobiles starting their engines in Los Angeles and that which was spewed out going up against the mountains crystallizing with sunlight creating a thing called air pollution or smog. Indeed, the battle against air quality problems began many, many years ago for us, efforts to create a new standard of regulatory enforcement that would make a difference in the region.
Today, you can see that beautiful valley almost every day of the year because of the progress that we have made in terms of cleaning the emissions from mobile sources. We are very proud of the fact that we've controlled stationary sources. It is easy to point a finger at the big smoke stack and say, Oh, my God, that's the problem. Indeed, we have solved 99 percent of all those emissions, and air quality still is a challenge.
When you come to this question today, we are talking about serious efforts to improve the emissions that come largely from trucks, but diesel-using engines and those emissions have a tremendous impact upon air quality as well.
Over the years, all of our efforts have saved I don't know how many tens of thousands of lives because we have improved the conditions in which these people have to live and breathe. But to suggest that we ought to begin to break down the progress being made on these engines by way of this relatively easy but, I must say, simplistic kind of transfer is a very, very big mistake.
So, Mr. Chairman, in the strongest way I urge our members to vote ``no'' on this $50 million transfer and recognize it's a lot more important to save the lives of those breathing foul air than to give a pittance to a very important environmental problem.
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