S T A T E M E N T by Senator Jim Inhofe
Chairman, Senate Clean Air Subcommittee
Hearing on the Proposed Regional Haze Regulation
Thursday April 23, 1998

The hearing will now come to order.

The purpose of today's hearing is to examine the proposed Regional Haze regulations that the EPA announced last July. The Regional Haze rule is suppose to address the problem of haze in our national parks and wilderness areas which decreases the visibility of these important scenic areas.

The Regional haze rule came just days after the EPA finalized their standards for ozone and particulate matter. This regulation is closely related to the PM 2.5 standard and I will come back to that issue in a few minutes.

I want to first point out who the witnesses are at today's hearing. We will be receiving testimony from Federal government witnesses and State Officials, including Governor Leavitt of Utah. This is an important point, because since the regulation was proposed over 40 States have requested major changes in the rule. Because the States are supposed to run and manage the haze program, it is important for this Subcommittee to understand where the conflicts exist between the States and the EPA, and how they can be resolved.

Today's hearing is the first one this Subcommittee has held on Regional Haze since the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. I don't expect the Committee to reach any decisions today, instead, I hope the hearing proves to be informative for the members.

As I read over the comments submitted by the States to the EPA, I noticed many of the same concerns being raised by different States. I would like to point out a few of the specific concerns that I hope the witnesses will address in their Statements, if not we can always discuss them during the question period.

1.The implementation schedule for the Haze rule does not match the implementation schedule for PM 2.5, even though we are discussing the same particles. In Mr. Seitz's testimony he states that the EPA will coordinate the two. My concern is how the EPA will do this and whether that will meet the States needs.

2.How will prescribed burnings affect the haze rule. The Forest Service has announced a dramatic increase in prescribed burnings. How do we treat this without throwing States into noncompliance or causing even more drastic emission cuts in other areas.

3.How will "reasonable progress" be measured without penalizing Western States that are already relatively clean. A one-size fits all standard never seems to work. The current EPA proposal for "reasonable progress" appears to be much closer to a visibility standard amendment offered during the 1990 Clean Air debate that was rejected by Congress than the provisions that were passed into law.

4.Along the same lines, how will the "deciview" work and how will it be used by the EPA.

5.What requirements will be made of the States under BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology). Is their enough flexibility in the rule for the States to develop their own program?

6.Finally, and certainly not the least important is how the proposal takes into account the recommendations of the Grand Canyon Visibility Commission. Having read both the Grand Canyon Report and the EPA's proposal, I find them inconsistent. The Grand Canyon Commission, created by Congress, spent over $8 million dollars and involved hundreds of people over the course of four years. Why isn't it consistent? Congress intended in 1990 for the States to work together in Regional Commissions and for the EPA to assist them with any needed regulations recommended by the Commissions. Did the EPA give the Grand Canyon Commission what it needed and asked for?

These are issues that need to be addressed before this rule goes final, and I would like to hear from the witnesses and the other members of the Committee if there are other issues that need to be added to this list.