Statement of Sen. James Inhofe

The first issue today is Regional Haze. We held a hearing on this issue in April and since that time two major changes have occurred. First, as part of the Highway Bill we passed an amendment that coordinated the timeline for Regional Haze with the PM 2.5 standard. This means the States will not be required to submit plans for Haze before they submit their plans for PM. The second major change was a result of our hearing, the Western Governor's negotiated an agreement with several of the interest groups to implement the Grand Canyon Report. The EPA then reopened the comment period on these two issues which is scheduled to close next week.

While I commend the EPA for publishing the Western Proposal, I do have a number of concerns. At our last hearing I listed six concerns. We took care of one, the timelines, and it appears that EPA is on the road to taking care of the other, the Western Proposal; but I still have my original four:

1) prescribed burnings

2) use of the "deciview"

3) how "reasonable progress" will be measured, and

4) flexibility regarding BART (best available retrofit technology)

In addition, I am concerned how the Highway amendment will be coordinated with the Western Proposal, and I am very concerned about the level of commitment from the EPA for other State Regional Commissions.

Our second issue today is Mercury. This is the first time since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 that our subcommittee has addressed Mercury in a hearing. The purpose today is to hear from the best scientists in government and the private sector as to the current state of the science for Mercury. I do not intend for this panel to get into a debate on control measures or regulatory fixes; these are issues that are best left to another day.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to submit a Report to Congress on Mercury, which they did just 11 months ago. Since then another Federal Agency, ATSDR has already released a more updated Report which relies on even more current science than EPA used. Therefore I feel it is important and necessary that the subcommittee take a close look at what we know and don't know, about Mercury.