STATEMENT BY SENATOR MAX BAUCUS
HEARING ON ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITS

Thank you.

I'm all for environmental audits. They increase compliance with the law. As a result, they improve the quality of our air and water.

At the same time, I'm skeptical about the need for federal legislation that would prevent information gathered in an environmental audit from being disclosed to the public.

Our legal system has based on the principal that, when a law enforcement investigation is underway, as the Supreme Court has said, "the public is entitled to every person's evidence."

It's an important element of the public's right to know.

I don't see why we should create a special exception for environmental laws--compared to, say, employment discrimination laws, antitrust laws, immigration laws, or workplace safely laws.

To my mind, the toughest issue involves the federal-state relationship.

As a general matter, our federal environmental laws do not, and should not, require states to march in lock-step to the beat of the federal drum. Within limits, they can reach different conclusions. They can experiment.

However, at some point, a state environmental audit law may undermine state law enforcement efforts to such an extent that the state's enforcement system is inadequate. If we allow that to happen, we won't have the level playing field. And that would threaten to undermine the progress we have made, in protecting the environment, over the last 25 years.

I look forward to addressing these issues during our hearing.