Statement of State Senator Don Ament
Before the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, and Nuclear Safety
Committee on Environment end Public Works, United States Senate
October 1, 1998

Mr. Chairman: As chairman of the Colorado Senate's Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy, I chair a committee that has jurisdiction over most natural resource and pollution questions in our state. As a farmer and rancher in the northeastern part of Colorado, I have firsthand experience with key natural resource issues as they affect me and my neighbors. I have served in the Colorado Legislature since 1986 and have spent most of that tenure devoted to protecting our environment, our agricultural resources, and the natural resources of the West.

Since 1990, I have watched the Federal Government and particularly the Environmental Protection Agency struggle with the concept of regional haze and air pollution. I am here today to urge the Congress to take whatever steps it can to prevent the EPA from implementing its Regional Haze Rule. They are unsupported by the law. First, during the 1990 Clean Air Act debates, the provisions of today's proposed Regional Haze Rule were specifically debated and rejected by Congress as failed command and control methods, not based on science, and not giving states necessary flexibility. Second, EPA's Regional Haze Rule ignores the most significant contributors to regional haze in the West while imposing hugely expensive "top-down" control strategies on small causes of regional haze which would have a negative impact on large sectors of the economy that will increase costs of electricity to all consumers, manufacturers, and particularly agriculture. Thereby failing the cost/benefit mandated by Congress for aesthetic regulations.

In attrition to these substantial flaws found in the proposed Regional Haze Rule, the EPA is also now proposing an accelerated implementation schedule for stationary source sulphur dioxide controls, ignoring the mandate of Congress found in the recently enacted Inhofe Amendment to TEA-21. I understand the Inhofe Amendment recognized the necessity of flexibility regarding the Grand Canyon Commission implementation timetable. However, EPA has selectively used the June, 1998 Western Governors Association proposal to the Regional Haze Rule to accelerate implementation of the Regional Haze Rule well ahead of not only the Grand Canyon recommendations timetable, but well ahead of the Western Governors Association proposal.

Because of the recognition by the Colorado General Assembly that the EPA and other unelected out-of-state organizations might ignore major sources of air pollution in the West which impact visibility and other aesthetic standards, I sponsored legislation in 1997 (a copy attached), HB 97-1324, which mandates that the State of Colorado maintains regulatory control of measures designed to reduce air pollution producing regional haze. This Colorado Law was enacted primarily to prevent command and control, ``top-down', regulation of Colorado air pollution problems which would ignore some sources of air pollution and increase dramatically the cost of operation of other sources without solving the haze problem.

In our state it is common that the legislature review final environmental regulations mandated by our environmental protection agencies so that elected representatives have firsthand knowledge of the science, economics, and anticipated benefits of proposals to help improve our environment. If the Regional Haze Rule is enacted, EPA would supplant and abrogate this duly enacted law with directions from Washington which ignore the will of the people of Colorado and ignore congressional Clean Air debate and statutes. EPA's Regional Haze Rule also selectively ignores about five years and almost $9,000,000 worth of Grand Canyon science.

I am sure that you on this committee are familiar with the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission. The Commission of eight Western Governors plus Tribes was closely assisted not only by the EPA but numerous other federal and state agencies and interested parties from throughout the West. The Commission submitted recommendations to address western regional haze to the Environmental Protection Agency in June of 1996. One of the major conclusions of the Commission was that, "emissions from fire, both wildlife end prescribed fires, is likely to have the single greatest impact on visibility at Class I areas through 2040" (Recommendations, p. 85).

We in Colorado are also familiar with the Grand Canyon Commission recommendations. which underscores our concerns about major sources of pollution blowing in and around Colorado. In fact, since 1996 the Colorado Legislature has twice passed legislation designed to hold federal agencies accountable under the authority granted states by Section 118 of the Clean Air Act for control of pollution from federal resources. Twice the federal agencies have lobbied our Governor Romer to veto the bill and twice that interference by federal agencies has been successful. The result is the General Assembly still has not been able to demand a standard from federal land managers to minimize emissions from fire and dust on federal lands. To me, it is only common sense that federal resources should be managed to minimize emission which cause haze, if such non-health issues are truly a national priority.

I note with dismay EPA has not been helpful in requiring major sources of pollution from federal facilities or lands to be taken into account in either its Regional Haze Rule or in its daily operations. In fact, it appears to us that the EPA makes excuses and covers up for other federal agencies when air pollution emanates from those federal lands that are such a dominant feature of the West. For example, in three previous congressional hearings within the last year, EPA has been confronted with these facts:

-- The Grand Canyon Commission science identified emissions from federal lands fires as a major source of Western haze.

-- But, soon after, the Department of the Interior announced a 500% increase in burns.

-- In the House Resources Committee's hearing last fall. the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture Departments stated 50% of western forests would need "mechanical treatment" before prescribed burns could be set.

-- But the stated need for logging or "mechanical treatment" is not reflected in agencies' budgets.

Consequently, if the Regional Haze Rule is implemented, western states would be prevented from attacking real sources of haze while being forced to regulate only one minor contributor--~ stationary sources.

We need the help of this Committee and help from other members of Congress on several fronts.

1. We need Congress to make it very clear that the Regional Haze Rule proposed, with "topdown" regulation ignoring all sources of aesthetic pollution in the West other than stationary source pollution, must be retreated and reworked before it is resubmitted to the public for public comment and notice. The new proposal must take into account statutory cost/benefit analysis and must regulate the major contributors first. It must follow the timetable mandated by the Inhofe Amendment.

2. The Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission was created by Congress to address visibility issues in the West. The Commission's extensive interdisciplinary resources and science resulted in recommendations concurred in by EPA. We in the West should he allowed by Congress and EPA to design a protection program to implement the Grand Canyon Commission's findings and recommendations_not ignore those findings. If the Western Governors are given en opportunity to have input, based upon the Commission's findings, the input they give must not be selectively ignored and implemented to create a command and control, "topdown" enforcement program from Washington.

3. State laws, such as the one I sponsored allowing the states to form their own strategies to control regional haze, should be honored - not ignored. Instead, the Regional Haze Rule would empower EPA to force each state to adopt a federally enforceable standard framed at a national or regional level that would set a quota for each state regardless of scientifically supported impact analysis.

4. In light of the continuing benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act, science, and statutory cost/benefit considerations of non-health or aesthetic issues, the general timetable for implementation set forth in the Inhofe Amendment to TEA21 must be applied to all 50 states. Congress intended by that amendment to allow for real scientific research to identify sources of pollution impacting health and/or non-health aesthetic standards before a new set of costly regulations were required.

We in the West ask the Congress to help us change EPA's Regional Haze Rule to recognize these four necessities. Then both the health-based regulations and non-health aesthetic-based regulations can be implemented to the advantage of science, reduce costs and reduce needless regulation, and honor the 1990 Clean Air Act provisions and the intent of the Inhofe Amendment.