O P E N I N G S T A T E M E N T
Senator Jim Inhofe
Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property and Nuclear Safety
July 24, 1997

The Hearing will now come to order. The purpose of today's hearing is to examine the EPA's implementation plan for the new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter. I want to emphasis the word plan, because what the EPA is planning today is not necessarily what will happen tomorrow. I do not think their plan is based on reality and therefore will not happen.

First, from what I read, the EPA is rewriting the Clean Air Act and their plan is outside of Congressional authority. Congress has not given authority to the EPA for the following:

These are just a few examples of areas where I believe EPA is trying to exceed their legal and Congressional authority.

Because they lack authority, they open themselves up to numerous possible lawsuits by States, the regulated community, and private citizen suits. They have already been sued under SBREFA. The result of these suits will be a court directed implementation plan which ignores the "flexibility" and safeguards the EPA is promising and which makes those flexibility promises meaningless. To understand this one only has to look at the past history of the Agency. As Senator Santorum pointed out in Tuesday's Agriculture hearing, the EPA talks about flexibility but never delivers. You only have to look at recent EPA threats in Pennsylvania and Virginia to see that flexibility to their mind means EPA mandates. Furthermore, whenever EPA talks about flexible implementation or stretching out requirements they are quickly sued by radical environmental groups and the Agency is quick to roll over and enter into binding consent agreements.

It is important to note that this frustration is felt not only in Congress, but more so in the States and communities. I received a letter this week from the heads of thirteen State environmental agencies calling for Congressional intervention to stop these standards because of the scientific uncertainties, lack of clear benefits, and questions surrounding the implementation. I would like to enter this letter into the record and point out to my colleagues on the Committee that the States which signed included Oklahoma, Idaho, Alabama, Virginia, and Montana, with all of these States being represented on this Committee.

The only witness at today's hearing is Mary Nichols, the Assistant Administrator for Air at the EPA. I understand that Ms Nichols will be leaving the EPA and Washington D.C. shortly to return to California. Because of this I thought it was important to hear how Ms. Nichols believes this will be implemented since all of the planning has occurred under her watch. If and when this is ever fully implemented it is important that a record be built which codifies the EPA's promises.

I look forward to hearing how Ms. Nichols believes this will be implemented and I wish her luck in her future endeavors.