Since the hearings began a couple months ago, we have had the opportunity to hear testimony where both sides of this complicated issue have been presented. When we began, I never expected this would be so complex and that there would be so many opinions, especially among the members of the President's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. While I have come to expect politicians to disagree, I did not expect such disagreement among the scientists.
I am also somewhat surprised that there is so much opposition to the plan from within the administration.
There is opposition from the President's Council on Economic Advisers, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Treasury. These comments must be seriously analyzed and addressed before the rule is promulgated.
According to a Monday, April 21 story in the Los Angeles Times, one of these documents even suggested that if implemented, "the proposal could bring California's economic recovery to a grinding halt."
In Arkansas, we could face a similar fate. Recently, Arkansas has begun to see strong economic growth, especially in the Northeastern and Northwestern part of the state, yet investment may slow dramatically, even drop off completely, if these areas of growth fall out of attainment.
In the reauthorization of ISTEA, Arkansas may see a tremendous increase in access to transportation, as we work on proposals for construction on the 1-69 International Trade Corridor (or interstate?) . Yet, since the implementation of these standards could threaten highway funding, the timely completion of I-69 or other highways in Arkansas may be in jeopardy.
This week, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce was in town to meet with the Congressional Delegation and other national leaders. The issue that is overwhelmingly the most important to these leaders is the completion of 1-69.
Considering the scientific weaknesses surrounding these standards, the disagreements within the Clinton Administration and the opposition from so many of my constituents and state leaders, I am not comfortable sacrificing any funding for one the most important economic facilitators in the history of Arkansas.
Mr. Chairman, today, State Representative Scott Ferguson of West Memphis, Arkansas was supposed to testify before our committee regarding his opposition to the proposed standards.
Unfortunately, because of family and business considerations, Representative Ferguson could not be with us. I would like to read a few of the excerpts from his testimony and have the entire testimony placed in the record.
I feel it is important to note that Representative Ferguson is a Medical Doctor and is a member of the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Dr. Ferguson cosponsored a resolution in the Arkansas House, which was passed along with a companion resolution in the State Senate, stating that the EPA should retain the current standard for ozone and retain the current standard for PM 10, until more research can be done on PM 2.5. I would like these two resolutions to also be placed in the record.
Dr. Ferguson goes on to say, "As a medical professional and an elected official, it concerns me that policy makers want to move forward with these standards prior to a complete analysis of these issues."
Mr. Chairman, I know there are other doctors on the panels today who will be testifying, but I hope Dr. Ferguson's testimony will also be seriously considered as we proceed today and through the next few months.
I thank the Chairman again for calling this hearing.