Before the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Clean Air
Comments of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers
In Support of S. 1084
October 22, 1997

The "Boilermakers" union represents approximately 90,000 workers who are employed in cement production, foundry and forging industry, shipyards, and in the construction and maintenance of coal and fossil fuel power plants and their emission equipment. In addition, Boilermaker members fabricate, install, and maintain cement kilns and their emissions equipment.

Our members strongly support the Clean Air Act. We also worked hard to pass the amendments strengthening the Clean Air Act in 1990. We are proud that the Clean Air Act has been an effective tool in reducing air pollution through out the United States. In the refined amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990, Congress carefully crafted methods to clean the air and preserve jobs at the same time. However, in regards to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Particulate and Ozone Standards which has gone into effect, EPA was, even reckless, in promulgating their proposal.

We support S. 1084 which would mandate a moratorium on implementation of the regulations until reasonable research can be conducted. Congress has the right to say "no" to the immediate implementation of these regulations, and we are encouraging members of Congress to stop the process of implementing such radical air quality changes.

The Clean Air Act has a provision that requires the EPA to review the law after five years to see if modifications need to be made. EPA has used that five year review provision to propose new air quality standards to the law. These Standards are referred to as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

On November 27, 1996, U.S. EPA proposed a substitution to the existing ozone standard and a new air quality standard for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). Under the new rules the regulated particulate matter would be reduced from 10 microns to 2.5 microns. Additionally, they are counting particulate matter from ALL sources--including nature. These levels were proposed despite the fact that serious scientific uncertainties exist about the health benefits associated with them. Even EPA's own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) has raised several questions about the technical basis and scientific justifications for these proposals. CASAC could not reach a consensus that the specific controls would result in improved health. Moreover, at this time, we do not even have an air monitoring system with the ability to track the levels of PM that have been proposed.

Based on EPA's own information, including its 1996 Air Quality and Emissions Trend Report, air quality nationwide is improving and the emissions of particulate and ozone are decreasing. All air pollutant levels have declined significantly over the past several years, primarily as a result of implementation of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. (The 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act are only 40% enacted). As subsequent controls mandated by this Act are put in place, air quality will be further improved and additional particulate and ozone emission reductions will be realized.

These emission reductions have come at a considerable cost to the U.S. economy. Many plants have added clean air equipment to meet existing standards. Other companies have escaped meeting the standards by using various legal schemes and are currently directed by EPA to comply with the clean air standards and comply with the law over the next few years Other companies have packed up and left the United States, opting to move to Mexico or Asia.

The added expense associated with the new EPA particulate and ozone rules, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars a year, should not be imposed without a clear demonstration that the public health and environmental benefits are commensurate with the costs. Those companies that have made the investment to comply with the current standards may have to lay out additional money to comply with the new standards, while providing no real improvement in clean air quality.

Because of the significant uncertainty surrounding the costs, benefits, and impacts of EPA's proposed ozone and particulate matter rules, the Boilermakers' International President, Mr. Charles W. Jones has urged the EPA to reaffirm the current standards, conduct additional monitoring of particulate matter and related air quality issues, and allow the states to complete action on the ambitious clean air standards that are already in place, including existing standards on ozone, before embarking on entirely new and costly undertakings. On June 25, 1997, President Clinton sided with EPA and ordered the new regulations to be put in effect. The President did modify the implementation schedule of the new standards, but the effect on U.S. workers and industry will be the same in five years; disastrous. It is the millions of average Americans--not companies or their stockholders--who will ultimately pay most of the bill as the costs of implementing the standards are passed along throughout the economy in the form of higher prices and lower wages. Industry analysts estimate 1.3 million American jobs will be lost as a result of the implementation of the new particulate matter and ozone rules.

By including particulate matter from natural sources in the air quality counts, many more areas of the country will be in noncompliance with the Air Quality Standards. This will force many more companies to move out of the U.S. and into other countries such as Mexico, South America or Asia where there is no enforcement of clean air standards.

Nearly half of the country and virtually every economic sector will be threatened, the new rules amount to the most aggressive EPA regulation ever. The proposed changes would immediately place 800 counties--five times the current number--into nonattainment. Some parts of the country could remain in a perpetual state of nonattainment because the proposed ozone standard is so tough.

Areas that fail to comply with the standard could have severe controls and sanctions imposed upon them. These include: limitations on the construction of and the expansion of manufacturing facilities; a delay of highway projects and a loss of federal highway funds; a complex and lengthy permitting process; a need for high emissions offsets; residential growth limits; and other restrictions on construction.

A nonattainment designation for any area is not an insignificant action. It translates into slower economic growth and fewer new businesses and expansions. Offset requirements and other new source review and licensing provisions increase the difficulty of luring new companies into nonattainment areas.

Additionally, because of the EPA implemented standards, those areas of the country that are not currently in compliance will have an additional ten years to comply with the Clean Air Act. Under the current clean air standards, Washington, D.C., as an example, must be in compliance in 1998, since these new regulations have been implemented, the Washington D.C. area will have until 2008 to comply with the Clean Air Act. Therefore, air quality will actually be worse in that area.

Other onerous restrictions and sanctions also impact plants in nonattainment areas. The Clean Air Act requires a complex and time-consuming permitting requirement on all new construction in nonattainment areas. All transportation projects must be found to be in "conformity" with the State's clean air plan before they can go forward. And if a State misses any of the myriad of Clean Air requirements, the Act mandates EPA to withhold all federal highway funds as an automatic sanction. The result: industrial and infrastructure projects can be delayed years--even decades--by Clean Air Act requirements in nonattainment areas.

The primary way EPA intends to reduce ozone emissions is to target large power plants, "37 states have worked over the last two years to address the long distance transport of ozone. This plan focuses on major power plants (which offer the most cost-effective opportunities for reducing pollution) to reduce nitrogen oxide, a key ingredient of smog."

EPA cannot reduce or eliminate natural airborne particulates. EPA's standards, according to their own press releases, are intended to reduce or eliminate the effects that air pollutants have on people with lung ailments such as asthma. Asthma is an allergic reaction to various substances. Many people are allergic to grass, dust mites, dogs, cats, birds, weeds, trees, flowers, carpet, perfume, etc. and, unfortunately, some people die of exposure to those substances. Some studies show that the incidence of asthma actually increases as the air gets cleaner. However, there are no scientific studies that indicate that the incidence of asthma related deaths would be reduced by the new air quality standards. In addition, EPA is forced to control only man made sources of emissions.

There are periods of times when the pollen count from grass and trees are high enough to trigger an EPA action day. As a result, EPA has said they would be forced to shut down construction sites, ban lawn mowing, shut down power plants and force car pooling.

In the long range, coal and fossil fuel fired plants would not be permitted to exist. Cement plants would not be permitted to be built in most areas of the United States and turbine powered electrical power generators would be the EPA preferred plant type. Utilities would cost more and the jobs of most workers who build and maintain the coal and fossil fuel boiler plants would be eliminated.

Considering the effect on our foundry and forging industry, cement plants, shipyards and shops, Boilermakers are likely to lose 35,000 jobs over the next seven to ten years because of the new standards. And, the United States would not have air quality any cleaner than it would have been under the current standards.

CONCLUSION

There are also serious questions regarding the need to change these air quality standards at this time. EPA must under the Clean Air Act review these air quality standards every five years. There are ample reasons why waiting until the next review to change the standards would make more sense.

-- First and foremost, EPA is trying to fix something that isn't broken. EPA has publicly and repeatedly stated that the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are working to reduce air pollution. For instance, EPA's recent air pollution "trends" analysis found 204 metropolitan areas with downward trends in pollution levels and only 16 showing an upward increase; 15 of these 16 are in no danger of violating any EPA air quality standard.

-- This progress will continue. The Clean Air Amendments of 1990 created a blueprint for state and federal action on ozone that will deliver continuing improvements in air quality well into the next century. A myriad of other Clean Air Act programs, such as the acid rain, clean cars, and air toxin programs, have yet to be fully implemented and will also insure that continued progress is made on ozone, particulates, and other pollutants for the foreseeable future.

For particulate matter, EPA acknowledges that additional monitoring of the air should be done to determine the extent of the fine particle problem. Moreover, because of the lack of monitoring data, EPA and states cannot start designating areas and ordering emissions reductions for approximately five to eight years. This delay gives ample time for EPA to reconsider the science and build consensus before implementing a new standard.

In conclusion, due to the significant uncertainty surrounding the costs, benefits, and impacts of EPA's implemented ozone and PM rules, we urge Congress to support S. 1084 which would mandate a moratorium on implementation of the regulations until reasonable research can be conducted. This is an issue of considerable importance to the Boilermakers, the nation and to all of America's working families--especially to those American workers whose lives would be enormously disrupted due to the twin requirements that would keep new jobs away and drive existing jobs out of the urban areas and into rural areas--and potentially out of the U.S. W e believe we can continue to enjoy air quality improvements without imposing additional costly and potentially unnecessary rules, like those implemented by the EPA for particulate matter and ozone.