Statement of Senator John H. Chafee
Hearings on National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Committee on Environment and Public Works
February 5, 1997

Over the past 25 years our nation has spent more than $450 billion to clean our air of life threatening pollution. This effort has achieved tremendous success. The most recent report card issued by the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that pollution levels have been reduced by nearly 30%, on average, with even greater gains made for some of the most serious pollutants -- such as lead and carbon monoxide -- and in some of our most polluted cities.

In spite of those achievements, EPA has recently proposed new regulations that suggest we have a long way to go. These new standards for smog and soot are 25% to 35% more stringent than the current levels and would require the expenditure of tens of billions of additional dollars. We plan to conduct a thorough review of these proposals. Senator Inhofe is making an excellent start this morning. The scientists we have with us include the current and past chairmen of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and some of the principal investigators whose studies form the scientific foundation for EPA's proposed standards.

I hope that all of the members of the Committee on both sides come to these hearings with open minds. These are extremely complex proposals based on thousands of pages of detailed analysis. I want to commend Carol Browner for seeking an extension from the court so that all of those affected by these proposals will have more time for review and consideration. She will be with us at a hearing next week. She has indicated that EPA stands ready to assist us in any way that it can to help us understand these proposals.