STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SOLOMON
BEFORE THE SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
ON OCTOBER 6, 1998

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. also would like to thank my colleagues, Senator Moynihan and Senator D'Amato for their valuable work on an issue that is very important to my district as well as much of the northeast and in fact the entire country. That issue is the very real and necessary changes that need to be made to strengthen the Clean Air Act to continue fighting acid rain and air pollution.

The legislation before the committee today, as introduced in this body by my good friends Senator Moynihan and Senator D'Amato, will build on the Clean Air Act and the provisions dealing with the pollutants most responsible for acid rain. I was pleased to introduce this companion legislation in the House and to have the support of many in the New York delegation.

Although we've made tremendous progress in cutting pollution through the original clean air act, it hasn't been enough to reduce the pollution responsible for acid rain and excessive air contamination we suffer from in New York.

The forests and waterways of the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks have become a dumping ground for this pollution and will be destroyed if we don't do something to stop it. In fact, in studies as early as 1984, 19% of the Adirondack lakes were dead and 55% were highly acidic. This statistic will only get worse in the future. As an outdoorsman and lifelong resident of this beautiful region, I'm not going to stand by and watch our area and many others like it be destroyed.

This legislation, entitled the Acid Deposition Control Act of 1997, focuses on further reductions in the emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), the two primary components of acid rain. Sulfur dioxide emissions have been declining under the emissions cap currently in place, but not fast enough for environmentally sensitive areas like the Adirondack mountains, the Hudson River Valley as well as much of the eastern seaboard. This bill would cut the amount of SO2 emitted in half in 2003 so dirty power plants won't be able to continue business-as-usual and get around pollution restrictions.

But even more important, this proposal finally takes on dangerous nitrogen oxide emissions. The Clean Air Act, as it stands, virtually ignores nitrogen oxide which in many ways is the most dangerous pollutant because of its devastating contribution to acid rain and ozone pollution which can cause significant health risks for people suffering from respiratory problems, like asthma.

This bill creates a market-based "cap and trade. system for NOx emissions similar to that already in place under the clean air act of 1990 that regulates SO2. Under such a trading system, states are given pollution allowances directly related to the percent of power the utilities in their state produce. The state then divides up these allowances to each utility in whatever manner they choose.

The system provides incentives for utilities to produce less' pollution than allotted because they can sell extra allowances to other utilities. However, if a utility exceeds its emission allowances, even after buying additional credits, they will be subject to serious financial penalty.

Another important provision dealing with NOx emissions seeks to cut these emissions at the most dangerous point of the year for many elderly and children afflicted with respiratory problems. The bill cuts in half the NOx allowance during the summer months of May, June, July, August and September when the heat and sunshine combine with NOx and other pollutants to create hazardous ozone pollution.

I am pleased with the support this legislation has already received from many environmental organizations and industry groups. We need to continue working with all members in the House and Senate that are serious about reducing pollution in this country. I urge the committee to pass this legislation and become committed to this cause. It's time for all of us to get together to fight against acid rain for the health of our citizens and the health of our vital natural resources!