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Public Statements

Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. HIRONO. Madam Chair, I rise today in opposition to the two bills before the House, H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681.

There is an old saying, ``The people have spoken.'' The people spoke clearly back in 1990. They said, We want cleaner air and healthier communities. So President George H.W. Bush proposed changes to strengthen the Clean Air Act.

The legislation to carry out these changes was introduced by a coalition of 22 Senators from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans. Then, after an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 401-25 in the House and 89-10 in the Senate, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 were signed into law. That was 21 years ago that these updates to the Clean Air Act were enacted. The law required acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions to be combated by reducing the release of 189 poisonous pollutants. The deadline for implementing these changes was the year 2000. Eleven years later, the people of Hawaii and the United States are asking for the certainty that they were promised, the certainty that by 2000 their air, our air, would be on the path to being cleaner.

We have heard the arguments against these regulations before: They are too expensive; they will kill jobs. We have heard the same arguments for years.

However, since the passage of the Clean Air Act 40 years ago, our Nation's economy has grown 200 percent.

When acid rain regulations were proposed after the 1990 law was enacted, industry claimed that it would cost $7.5 billion to comply and tens of thousands of jobs. But we know that that was not what happened. Instead, our economy added 21 million jobs and had the longest-running expansion in our Nation's history.

Recent surveys also show the biggest challenge facing small businesses today isn't regulation. The biggest challenge is that consumer demand for products and services is low.

We all agree that we need to help our economy and create more jobs, but we shouldn't be doing that at the expense of the health of our communities and our families. That is not the way to create jobs. Instead, it's time to give the American people the certainty that the air that we breathe won't contribute to asthma or heart attacks or birth defects; and it's time to give the American people the certainty that when they speak, as they did in 1990, their government will carry out their will.

So enough is enough. The deadlines are passed; the issues have been studied; the rules have been litigated and, in some cases, relitigated. Now is the time for the Environmental Protection Agency to finish the job it was given by Congress and finish these rules, and let's get to work on legislation to create jobs.

I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing both of these bills. The American people want jobs legislation now, not ideological attacks on the Clean Air Act.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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