TESTIMONY OF DIANNE R. NIELSON
STATE OF UTAH
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CLEAN AIR, WETLANDS, PRIVATE PROPERTY AND NUCLEAR SAFETY
Washington D.C.
October 1, 1998

Good afternoon. I am Dianne R. Nielson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and Governor Leavitt's Official Representative to the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP). Governor Leavitt has taken an active role in air quality and visibility issues in Utah and in the West, as Vice-Chair of the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission, Co-Chair of the WRAP, and lead governor for air quality issues for the Western Governors' Association (WGA). I am here today on behalf of Governor Leavitt to provide testimony regarding a western regional approach to regional haze and the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Notice of Availability of Additional Information related to proposed regional haze regulations. This issue is important to western states, to the people who live and work in the West and to the many people who visit. As Utah's chief environmental official, I appreciate the inherent value of our Western vistas and my stewardship responsibility.

This Subcommittee has been vigilant in its efforts to oversee the progress of the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission and its successor organization, the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP). You are aware of the history and work of these unique regional partnerships, as summarized herein. When Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, directing the EPA Administrator to establish the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission, you laid the groundwork for visibility protection through regional partnership. You provided the opportunity to address a regional problem at a regional level. States, tribes, federal agencies, local government officials, business and industry, environmental representatives, academicians, and citizens came together in partnership to develop recommendations for protecting visibility at the Grand Canyon and fifteen other western Class I areas. The consensus recommendations of the Grand Canyon Commission were presented to EPA in June 1996. The Western Regional Air Partnership or WRAP was established to implement the Grand Canyon recommendations, and as appropriate, address other air quality issues of regional interest. The WRAP consists of western states and tribes as well as the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture and the Administrator of the EPA. Committees and workgroups, with the involvement of stakeholders as in the Commission, are working to develop consensus approaches to initiatives and technical efforts to reduce regional haze.

In April 1998, when Governor Leavitt testified before this Subcommittee, he reaffirmed the commitment of western governors to the consensus recommendations of the Grand Canyon Commission and to WGA's Environmental Doctrine, which guides our efforts to seek solutions to environmental and natural resources problems facing the West. Prior to that time, EPA had proposed a regulation which failed to incorporate the Grand Canyon recommendations. In April, while states were encouraged by the interest EPA demonstrated in incorporating the Commission recommendation into the proposed rule, that work was yet to be accomplished. Following that hearing, environmental representatives voiced their concern about the commitment to that goal. Again, with a renewed determination, representatives of states, tribes, industry, environmental groups, and federal land managers worked for countless hours to craft a consensus agreement on specific language which we would recommend to EPA for incorporation in the proposed regional haze regulation, language which would implement the Commission recommendations. Copies of that June 25, 1998, consensus document have been provided to this Subcommittee and are available on the WGA website at www.westgov.org. Governor Leavitt, in his June 29, 1998, cover letter to Administrator Browner, endorsed the consensus work product. The environmental representatives also endorsed the consensus document in a letter to Administrator Browner. On August 31, EPA issued a Notice of Availability regarding proposed regulatory language to reflect the proposal, as well as a request for comment regarding the Transportation Equity Act (TEA~ 21).

The Grand Canyon recommendations, the work of the WRAP, and this recent consensus document all recognize that improvements in visibility must include more than just management of emissions from industry stationary sources. The reductions must also come from the ever~ increasing volume of mobile source pollution, from vehicles on-road as well as construction and other off-road vehicles, reductions in road dust, management to reduce impacts of wildfires, and trans-boundary pollution from Mexico.

WGA recommended that EPA reopen the public comment on the ideas in the consensus document, and we appreciate EPA doing so. The following comments focus on key considerations in the June 25 consensus document and how they are reflected in EPA's August 31 draft regulatory language.

1. The consensus document laid out time frames for the development and implementation of the states' long range strategies for addressing regional haze on the Colorado Plateau.

EPA has accurately reflected the time frames in the consensus document. We recognize that the time frames are tight, but we believe they are achievable. However, the schedule requires a commitment by all parties to complete the development of models, strategies, databases, and other work products for consideration by the WRAP. Two specific commitments are critical to achieving these goals.

-- All partners and their representatives must come to the table committed to implement the recommendations from the Grand Canyon report. While we have and will continue to have discussions about the particulars of those strategies, there can be no doubt about our commitment to the recommendations.

-- The WRAP must have sufficient funding to support development of those work products through committees, workgroups and the WRAP itself. Individuals, agencies, and stakeholders participating in the Commission and WRAP have provided countless hours to this work. However, funding is needed to cover expenses of the WRAP and the development of work products. As Governor Leavitt pointed out in his cover letter of June 29, 1998, our success is dependent largely on the financial support of EPA. Likewise, we ask Congress to support this critical financial commitment.

2. The consensus document defined the components necessary for inclusion in state or tribal implementation plans, recognizing that any endorsement with respect to tribal plans must come from the individual tribes.

EPA has addressed the identification of components with respect to state implementation plans and established mechanisms for states and tribes to define those plans.

3. The consensus document also created a set of principles for EPA's involvement in western efforts to develop plans and implement the Commission's recommendations.

That set of principles was not included in the EPA draft. -While we recognize that EPA appropriately did not participate in the consensus work group or document, those principles were agreed to by the consensus group partners and were significant enough to justify inclusion in that document. We look to EPA for further clarification on how they intend to address those principles. We are resolved that they must be incorporated in the regulation and implemented in the work of the WRAP.

4. The consensus document did not provide for specific action if the Annex was not timely delivered to EPA.

EPA has indicated that, if the Annex deadline is not met or if the annex did not meet regulatory requirements in _51.309(f)(1), EPA would establish stationary source sulfur dioxide provisions.

Instead, EPA should provide that, if the Annex is not delivered to EPA by the deadline or if EPA determines the Annex does not meet regulatory requirements, EPA could initiate the process of establishing stationary source sulfur dioxide provisions. However, if the an Annex or revised Annex were provided within one year of the deadline or determination, EPA would review it and accept the Annex if it met the regulation.

5. The Grand Canyon recommendations were specific to the sixteen Class I areas identified in the Clean Air Act Amendments. However, western governors also recognized that the Commission process could serve as a model for other Class I areas in the West.

EPA has clearly reflected that option, but not requirement, in its draft. While implementation of the Commission's recommendations is necessary, some states are also concerned about areas beyond the original charge. The option, and the flexibility inherent therein, is critical to states and the region.

6. WGA, recognizing the carefully balanced compromise in the words of the consensus document, recommended that EPA not selectively use only portions of the document.

EPA's draft appears to reflect the integrity of the consensus. However, preamble language specifically included in the consensus document is not reflected in EPA's draft. Since EPA has not provided a draft of that critical preamble to the regulation, it is not possible to evaluate it's consistency. We will request that EPA provide for comment on draft preamble language or be prepared to revise such language, if recommended, when it is released for public notice.

7. WGA did not propose imposition of the consensus recommendations on states outside the Transport Region. Any such endorsement must come from those states.

EPA's proposal appears to reflect that distinction.

States will provided comments to EPA regarding the draft language. The WRAP has considerable, significant work before it, and I believe the partners are up to the challenge of developing a flexible, regional approaches to reducing regional haze in the West.

Thank you for the continued interest of the members of this Subcommittee to that goal. We look forward to your support as we develop and implement these strategies.