Opening Statement of Senator Tim Hutchinson
before the Senate Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property & Nuclear Safety
Hearing on the EPA's clean air standards
July 24, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First, I would like to welcome Ms. Nichols here today, in perhaps one of her last official appearances with the Environmental Protection Agency. I understand you are going back to California to work on environmental issues there. I wish you luck.

Today, however, I feel that we are going to disagree on a few issues. Arkansas is a rural, primarily agricultural state, that is growing, but currently has relatively little big industry and a small population. This is the type of area that one might expect would not be affected by a new EPA standard on ozone and particulates.

Unfortunately, that is incorrect. It is already anticipated that several counties in eastern Arkansas will be out of attainment under these new standards. One county, Crittenden county is already out of attainment for ozone and, as the Mayor of West Memphis has said, would be out of attainment, even if the entire city was plowed up and used for farmland. With Memphis so close, there is very little West Memphis can do to achieve air quality under the guidelines of the EPA.

Other counties, such as Arkansas and Ashley counties are almost exclusively agricultural in nature. Carol Browner testified before the Agriculture committee on Tuesday and repeatedly asserted that agriculture would not be affected by these new standards; reductions could be achieved and attainment realized by go after the big power plants. Well, that is fine, except Arkansas and Ashley counties don't have power plants. One county that does, Jefferson county, just to the west of Arkansas county, has a power plant, but, according to the EPA's own documents, will not be out of attainment. There is an interesting problem between these facts and the statements Ms. Browner made just two days ago.

I fear that agriculture is going to take a beating in the United States over the next few years. Between what the EPA wants to do with ozone and particulates and what the Administration is saying they want to do in relation to global climate, the effects on a agricultural state like Arkansas are overwhelming.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this hearing today. I look forward to Ms. Nichols testimony and, since I feel there is a better alternative to what the EPA has implemented, I look forward to working towards a solution.