Good afternoon. Thank you, Administrator Jackson, for the warm welcome. I’m honored to join you all – and to celebrate four decades of the Environmental Protection Agency’s extraordinary work.
As public servants, we’re afforded two great opportunities: Front row seats from which to watch history being made and once-in-a-lifetime chances to help make a little history ourselves. Well, during the last 40 years, the EPA has certainly made its share of history – especially when it comes to shrinking the environmental footprint of America’s transportation system.
It wasn’t that long ago, for example, that driving your car down the road meant sending harmful lead pollution and other contaminants into the air. But the American people and the dedicated workers at the EPA knew that needed to change. So you worked to make our cars cleaner, our roadways greener, and our communities stronger. As a result, our air contains 90 percent less lead today than it did a generation ago. Other dangerous pollutants have been cut by more than half. And each year since 1990, the Clean Air Act has helped remove 1.7 million tons of pollution from the air we breathe.
Today, that work continues – and I’m proud that the Department of Transportation is your partner in this ongoing effort. Together, we’re raising fuel economy standards for cars and trucks – and helping consumers more easily identify the most efficient automobiles. Together, we’re promoting livable and sustainable communities with low- and zero-emissions transportation options like transit, biking, and walking. And, together, we’re building toward a future with battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
You know, anniversaries like this are not just important because they let us pause and take measure of the distance we’ve traveled. They’re important because they let us pause and take measure of the direction we’re headed.
Because of President Obama, Administrator Jackson, and so many of you, this EPA is on the right track forward. I’m delighted to be here, to say thank you, and to tell you how much my colleagues and I look forward to our continued collaboration in service of the people who sent us here.