TESTIMONY OF GOVERNOR MICHAEL O. LEAVITT
STATE OF UTAH
APRIL 23, 1998

Good morning. I am Governor Mike Leavitt of Utah and lead governor for air quality issues for the Western Governors' Association. I also serve as Co-Chair of the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) with Governor Reginald Pasqual of the Pueblo of Acoma. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regional haze regulation.

This issue is important to western governors. As governors, we are keenly aware of the need to protect visibility in parks and wilderness areas in our part of the country. We recognize the inherent social and spiritual value of the breathtaking vistas in the West. Our matchless visibility is important to our residents and tourists alike. We support efforts to protect this visibility. And we applaud Congress for its foresight. When Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, you created a remarkable opportunity for visibility protection through regional partnership. You directed the EPA Administrator to create the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission (Commission). This Commission, of which I was Vice Chair, was charged to determine how to make progress toward the visibility goal established in the Clean Air Act of 1977. Neither Congress nor EPA told us how we were to do this job. Instead, you left us with flexibility and a challenge. I am proud to say we met that challenge.

We brought together a partnership of states, tribes, federal agencies, industry and business, environmental representatives, local government officials, and academicians, and charged them with developing consensus recommendations on how to protect visibility at the Grand Canyon and at 15 other parks and wilderness areas on the Colorado Plateau. EPA was a valued and effective player in this process. We reached consensus on a set of responsible recommendations to manage air quality in the West, so that we, as a region, could make the required "reasonable progress" toward the national visibility goal. On June 10, 1996, in a moving ceremony on the rim of the Grand Canyon, we delivered those recommendations to EPA. We have since also delivered them to Congress.

However, we are very concerned the EPA's originally-proposal regional haze regulation is not consistent with the intent of Congress and does not create a framework for accepting the work of the Grand Canyon Commission. We have shared our concerns with EPA. Let me quote from a letter Governor Romer of Colorado and I recently sent to EPA Administrator Carol Browner on behalf of the Western Governors' Association. I have attached the letter to my testimony.

As you are aware, Western Governors are vitally interested in the rule the EPA will soon issue regarding regional haze. In particular, we urge that it allow and facilitate regional, state and tribal strategies such as the widely endorsed recommendations of the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission (Commission) and its successor, the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP).

We strongly encourage EPA to take a bold step toward better environmental performance by accepting our recommendations for the regional haze rule. By doing so, EPA will not only set in motion a mechanism developed and agreed to by national and Western stakeholders to improve visibility in the West, but it will also send a strong signal that a new, more effective partnership for protecting the environment is underway.

We learned a lot from this regional effort. There is a better way of doing the important business of environmental protection. Rather than following the old paradigm of prescriptive federal laws and regulations, followed by state action, followed by often contentious federal review, followed all to often by third party litigation, participants in the Commission's process focused jointly on problems and solutions.

Based on the Commission experience, and faced with increasing environmental pressures of growth in the West, western governors have recently set about defining a new, shared environmental doctrine for our region. We will use the principles in this doctrine to guide us in seeking solution to a broad array of environmental and natural resource problems facing the West. Key principles include:

--Collaboration, Not Polarization -- Use Collaborative Process to Break Down Barriers and Find Solutions.

Working collaboratively as we did in the Grand Canyon Commission process was key to our success.

--Reward Results, Not Programs -- Move to a Performance-based System.

Everyone wants a clean and safe environment. Federal and state policies should encourage "outside the box" thinking in the development of strategies to achieve desired outcomes. Solving problems rather than just complying with programs should be rewarded.

--Science For Facts, Process For Priorities -- Separate Subjective Choices from Objective Data Gathering.

As we found in the Commission work, there is a time in the collaborative process when interested stakeholders must evaluate the scientific evidence on which there may be disagreement and make difficult policy decisions.

Markets Before Mandates -- Replace Command and Control with Economic Incentives Whenever Appropriate.

The Commission recommended that emission reductions should be guaranteed through implementation of a regional emissions trading program if committed reductions were not realized after the year 2000.

Change A Heart, Change A Nation -- Environmental Education is Crucial.

A healthy environment is critical to the social and economic health of the nation. One important way for government to promote individual responsibility is by rewarding those who meet their stewardship responsibilities, rather than imposing additional restrictions on their activities.

Recognition of Benefits and Costs -- Make Sure Environmental Decisions are Fully Informed.

Implementation of environmental policies and programs should be guided by an assessment of the costs and benefits of different options and a determination of the feasibility of implementing the options.

Solutions Transcend Political Boundaries -- Use Appropriate Geographic Boundaries for Environmental Problems.

We recognize that regional haze problems cannot be solved without working on the regional level across state, federal, and tribal boundaries. The problem cannot be solved with singular solutions from Washington D.C. or anywhere else. The western airshed is distinctly different from the eastern airshed in meteorology and pollutant characteristics.

Even as my colleagues and I flesh out this new environmental doctrine, we have already moved ahead, with our Commission partners and new partners, and formed the Western Regional Air Partnership, known as the WRAP. The WRAP is a partnership between states, tribes, EPA and the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Its purpose is to promote the implementation of the Grand Canyon Commission's recommendations and, when warranted, to address other air quality issues needing regional solutions. Like the Commission, the WRAP has invited interest groups and individuals to the table to develop consensus approaches for moving forward on current and future issues.

We expected EPA, through its regional haze rule, to create a clear and unambiguous path for state implementation of the Commission's recommendations. We also expected that the regulation would create incentives for other commissions and processes like the Grand Canyon Commission and WRAP, to encourage and reward states that collaborate, seriously involve partners and stakeholders, and develop innovative regional approaches to regional haze.

As EPA revises its proposed regulation, we hope the following concerns will be resolved:

EPA needs to be a participant in regional environmental partnerships which develop the strategies and recommendations for addressing regional haze.

Additional language is needed to define a clear and specific process for creation and adoption of alternative regional strategies to define and attain "reasonable progress" under the Clean Air Act. Specifically, when EPA concurs with the partnership's strategies for addressing regional haze, states and tribes expect approval of those strategies in their Plans. Implementation of the Commission's recommendations meets the Clean Air Act's requirement of making "reasonable progress" towards the national visibility goal. We are asking EPA to support the consensus recommendations of regional commissions in which they participate, prior to having those recommendations included in State and Tribal Implementation Plans (SIPs and TIPs).

The "deciview target" is not a workable regulatory measure because of the large uncertainty in the relationship between the measure and the identification of related, controllable emission sources. The proposed regulation has a presumptive requirement that each Class I area achieve a fixed increment of improvement of one deciview every ten years. There are two problems with this requirement. First, it establishes a set of criteria to be used in determining what would constitute reasonable progress for each Class I area. These criteria include such things as cost and energy impacts. Setting a fixed requirement for each Class I area is contrary to this concept of evaluating what is reasonable for each Class I area. Secondly, there is significant uncertainty in measuring visibility. It makes much more sense to identify what emission reductions are needed for reasonable progress and hold states to making those reductions.

Group BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) requirements are incompatible with other more effective state and tribal strategies. The proposed regulation has a requirement for evaluating whether specific technological controls should be required of certain major point sources. The Grand Canyon Commission opted to establish a decreasing emissions cap which includes emissions from these sources. If the cap is exceeded, a market trading program will go into place to bring emissions back under the cap. This is a much more efficient means of meeting "reasonable progress," requirements. Furthermore, in assessing "reasonable progress," we used the same criteria that would be used to determine if technological controls should be required. BART should remain as a possible tool in the state and tribal "toolbox" of regulatory options. However, the market-trading proposal from the Commission is a much more efficient strategy for regional haze.

Prescribed fires, those fires planned by federal and state land managers, will have a significant impact on visibility and regional haze in the West. Procedures, to coordinate the reduction in impacts from prescribed fires, are critical to the effectiveness of the regional haze regulation.

We have identified a number of other issues which need to be corrected in the proposed regulation. These have been submitted to EPA under the auspices of both the Western Governors' Association and the WRAP. These comments are available to you upon request. Our success is dependent on a workable regulation and the investment of resources -- time and money -- in regional strategies.

I recognize that EPA cannot give up the statutory responsibilities you have bestowed upon it. We are not asking for that. We are only asking that EPA exercise its responsibility at the table, not after the fact, in inefficient, prolonged reviews. On the plus side, we have had positive discussions with EPA on these issues. I have met with John Seitz, Director of the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards and received his assurances they have heard our concerns.

In summary, the issue here is not about whether we want a visibility regulation or not, it is about developing the best way for protecting visibility. Western governors need the flexibility to develop strategies that meet the social, economic and environmental needs of states and tribes in the West. We want to protect our western skies using approaches that are cheaper and better.

At the same time we want to address these issues in partnership with EPA and other federal agencies, but we want the "partnership" to be real. Our western parks and wilderness areas are there to be enjoyed by all Americans. We will never protect them by engaging in endless bickering and litigation. EPA and other federal agencies were good partners in the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission. We need to return to that model. If we are serious about reinventing environmental management, lets start right here and now.

Thank you for inviting me to testify.