TESTIMONY BEFORE THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CLEAN AIR, WETLANDS,
PRIVATE PROPERTY, AND NUCLEAR SAFETY
MARCH 3, 1997
BY
RICHARD E. GRUSNICK, DEPUTY DIRECTOR
ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE, GOOD MORNING. MY NAME IS RICHARD GRUSNICK AND I AM DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, THE AGENCY CHARGED WITH ADMINISTERING THE MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN ALABAMA. PRIOR TO ASSUMING MY CURRENT DUTIES, I WAS CHIEF OF THE DEPARTMENT'S AIR DIVISION AND HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN ALABAMA'S PROGRAM TO REGULATE AIR POLLUTION SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1972.

I APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAR BEFORE THIS SUBCOMMITTEE TODAY AS IT CONDUCTS OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON EPA'S RECENT PROPOSAL TO REVISE THE AIR QUALITY STANDARDS FOR OZONE AND PARTICULATE MATTER AND THE EFFECT THESE PROPOSALS MAY HAVE ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. THERE ARE TWO BASIC POINTS I WISH TO MAKE TODAY. THESE ARE:

1. TIGHTENING THE STANDARDS WOULD DIVERT REGULATORY RESOURCES FROM THE AREAS WITH THE MOST SERIOUS AIR QUALITY PROBLEMS.

2. GIVEN THE DIFFICULTY AND RESISTANCE ENCOUNTERED IN IDENTIFYING AND IMPLEMENTING THE MEASURES REQUIRED TO MEET THE CURRENT AIR QUALITY STANDARDS, THE CREDIBILITY OF ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT MAY ULTIMATELY DECLINE IF THE PROPOSED STANDARDS ARE ADOPTED.

THE ONLY CURRENT NONATTAINMENT AREA IN ALABAMA IS THE BIRMINGHAM AREA WHICH INCLUDES JEFFERSON AND SHELBY COUNTIES. BIRMINGHAM WAS DESIGNATED A MARGINAL OZONE NONATTAINMENT AREA PURSUANT TO THE CLEAN AIR ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1990. A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF THE AIR REGULATORY RESOURCES IN THE STATE HAVE BEEN FOCUSED IN THIS AREA BY DEVELOPING AND ENFORCING REGULATIONS DEALING WITH SMALLER SOURCES THAN ARE REGULATED IN THE REMAINDER OF THE STATE AND BY WORKING WITH THE TRANSPORTATION PLANNING AGENCIES TO ENSURE THAT TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PLANS CONFORM WITH THE AIR QUALITY GOALS IN THIS LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREA OF THE STATE. THIS MAKES SENSE - FOCUS THE REGULATORY EFFORTS AND ASSOCIATED INCREASED COSTS IN THE AREA OF THE STATE WITH THE WORST AIR QUALITY WHERE THE BENEFITS WOULD BE GREATEST. THIS FOCUSING OF RESOURCES WOULD DECREASE IF THE PROPOSED STANDARDS WERE ADOPTED.

UNDER THE RANGE OF PROPOSED STANDARDS, THE NUMBER OF NONATTAINMENT COUNTIES IN ALABAMA WOULD INCREASE FROM TWO TO SOMEWHERE BETWEEN EIGHT AND ALL SIXTY SEVEN COUNTIES, WITH THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO INCLUDING A MINIMUM OF TWENTY COUNTIES. IT IS NOT REALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO THE REGULATORY EFFORT WOULD INCREASE TO CORRESPOND WITH THE INCREASED WORKLOAD OF DEVELOPING THE NECESSARY PLANS, REGULATIONS AND IMPLEMENTING THE REQUIREMENTS IN EACH OF THE COUNTIES. THIS WOULD MEAN THAT RESOURCES WOULD HAVE TO BE DIVERTED FROM THE AREAS WITH THE MOST SEVERE AIR QUALITY PROBLEMS TO IMPLEMENT THE REQUIREMENTS IN THE NEWLY DESIGNATED, LESS SEVERELY IMPACTED, LESS DENSELY POPULATED NONATTAINMENT AREAS. GIVEN THE REALITY OF LIMITED RESOURCES, I QUESTION WHETHER ESTABLISHING A TIGHTER STANDARD WILL ACTUALLY RESULT IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE USE OF STATE RESOURCES TO PROVIDE THE MAXIMUM BENEFITS FROM CLEANER AIR IN ALABAMA.

I ALSO HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE CONTINUED CREDIBILITY OF EFFORTS TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY. THE DAYS OF EASY CHOICES HAVE PASSED. THIS WAS EVIDENCED BY THE TEN YEARS IT TOOK CONGRESS TO REAUTHORIZE THE CLEAN AIR ACT WITH THE 1990 AMENDMENTS AND THE CHALLENGES ALREADY FACED IN IMPLEMENTING ITS PROVISIONS. NO LONGER ARE REQUIRING CONTROLS ON LARGE INDUSTRY AND THE MANUFACTURE OF LOWER EMITTING NEW VEHICLES ADEQUATE TO SATISFY THE AIR QUALITY MANDATES OF THE EXISTING LAW. SMALL BUSINESSES ARE NOW REQUIRED TO REDUCE THEIR EMISSIONS AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES ARE NECESSARY IN SOME AREAS. I HAVE SEEN PRESENTATIONS BY REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER, MORE CHALLENGED STATES WHICH INDICATE EMISSION REDUCTIONS IN EXCESS OF 70% WILL BE REQUIRED TO MEET THE CURRENT STANDARD. COUPLE THIS WITH THE FACT THAT TRANSPORTATION SOURCES ARE GENERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HALF THE EMISSIONS AND THE PROBLEM IS OBVIOUS. MANY OF THE MORE SEVERELY IMPACTED AREAS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO DEVELOP PLANS TO MEET THE CURRENT STANDARD USING ANY POLITICALLY OR SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE STRATEGY. INVESTIGATIONS INTO LONG RANGE TRANSPORT HAVE ALSO FAILED TO IDENTIFY A STRATEGY WHICH WOULD ALLOW THE CURRENT STANDARD TO BE ACHIEVED THROUGHOUT THE EASTERN U. S. FROM A PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVE, I THINK IT IS REASONABLE TO QUESTION "RAISING THE TARGET" WHEN THE CURRENT ONE IS ALREADY TOO HIGH TO HIT IN MANY INSTANCES.

IN ADDITION, MANY OF THE MEASURES RECENTLY IMPLEMENTED HAVE MET WITH STRONG OPPOSITION. IN THE MORE SEVERELY IMPACTED AREAS SMALLER BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN REGULATED, AUTOMOBILES NOW HAVE THEIR EMISSIONS TESTED, AND CERTAIN TYPES OF NEW INDUSTRIAL GROWTH CONTINUES TO BE ESSENTIALLY PRECLUDED BY THE EMISSIONS "OFFSET" REQUIREMENTS. TIGHTENING THE AIR QUALITY STANDARD WOULD SIGNIFICANTLY EXPAND THE NUMBER OF AREAS SUBJECT TO THESE REQUIREMENTS AND MAY UNDERMINE THE SUPPORT FOR CONTINUED AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT. THIS IS ESPECIALLY LIKELY SINCE THESE REQUIREMENTS WILL IMPACT MORE RURAL AREAS WHICH HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN VIEWED AS HAVING GOOD AIR QUALITY.

IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT IN AIR QUALITY WILL OCCUR EVEN ABSENT A REVISION TO THE STANDARDS SINCE THE AGGRESSIVE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1990 CONTAIN MANY FAR REACHING EMISSION REDUCTION PROVISIONS WHICH HAVE NOT YET BEEN FULLY IMPLEMENTED. MANY OF THESE PROVISIONS WILL RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS IN THE EMISSIONS OF POLLUTANTS RESPONSIBLE FOR OZONE AND FINE PARTICULATE MATTER. PERHAPS CONTINUED EVALUATION OF THE DISPUTED HEALTH EFFECTS STUDIES WOULD BE REASONABLE AS WE CONTINUE TO IMPLEMENT THE BLUEPRINT FOR IMPROVING AIR QUALITY ESTABLISHED BY CONGRESS IN THE 1990 AMENDMENTS.

IN SUMMARY, ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED STANDARDS WOULD MOST LIKELY RESULT IN:

- DIVERTING REGULATORY RESOURCES FROM THE MOST IMPACTED AREAS; AND

- A LOSS OF GOVERNMENT CREDIBILITY.

ALL WHILE AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS WILL CONTINUE TO BE REALIZED AS A RESULT OF THE 1990 AMENDMENTS.