Like many of my colleagues, I am very concerned about air quality in our country and in my home state of Alabama. I commend the Environmental Protection Agency for doing a fine job in helping to identify the most polluted areas of our country and those industry and state officials who have made adjustments, sometimes at great cost, to improve the air we breathe. While there is little dispute some areas of this country need more improvement to meet existing standards, current efforts have resulted in much higher overall air quality throughout my state and the country. I understand today's hearing is focused on science because it is only with sound scientific knowledge that we can make informed decisions. Changing the Ozone and Particulate Matter standards is by no means a small proposition. The ramifications of enacting new, tighter standards, will result in tremendous costs both economically and socially. Many industries would be forced to make costly overhauls to their plants and equipment which could lead to job loss Likewise, state governments would be forced to shift scarce resources into pollution control.
In short, I want to ensure the decisions to change the Ozone and Particulate matter standards are based on sound, conclusive scientific data. History has demonstrated that theory, even when supported by some scientific data, should not be the only basis for taking action. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich, a renowned doctor of population studies at Stanford University, wrote a book called Population Bomb in which he stated "The battle to feed all humanity is over. In the 1970's and 1980's hundreds of millions of people will starve to death." One could easily imagine the social and economic upheaval which would have occurred.
Before we act to change Ozone and Particulate standards we need to identify the problem, understand the underlying science behind the problem and what the most appropriate, if any, steps need to be taken to solve the problem. I look forward to the opportunity to learn from our witnesses today and hope we can develop a common sense approach to dealing with this issue.