Testimony by: Randolph Wood, Director
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Thursday, April 23, 1998

Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, and Nuclear Safety, I am Randolph Wood, Director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. In that position, I am responsible for the administration and enforcement of all of the environmental programs within the State of Nebraska.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments to this illustrious committee as you review EPA's activities and the proposal for regulations on "regional haze".

EPA's proposed regulations on "regional haze" have created as much consternation for us as any set of regulations in my memory. This consternation is not because we do not believe in the concept of protection of visibility in important places such as our Class I national parks and wilderness areas. It's not because we are insensitive or that we don't understand the technical basis for the "regional" approach, and it's not because we fail to grasp the nexus between sources of emission and the impact of those emissions. It's also not because we are not sympathetic with the responsibility of the environmental protection agency in fulfilling their obligations, specifically those that are established by Congress as "non˙2Ddiscretionary". We, too, have obligations under State statutory provisions that we must meet as we have reviewed EPA's proposal over the past 8 months, we have identified a number of significant technical concerns within the proposal. But we have also come to the conclusion that it appears to us that EPA made a policy decision and then asked for technical justification for that policy decision.

We all understand the difficulty that one State has in dealing with an air quality problem if some portion of the cause of that problem originates in a "up˙2Dwind" State. A most recent example of the recognition of this issue is the ozone transport assessment group (OTAG) process in the eastern States. While some will question the use of the specific results in the development of implementation plans, few would argue that this has not been the most technically sound and rigorous analysis of long˙2Drange and interstate transport of pollutants ever conducted. That process produced the most widely accepted cause and effect relationship that has been developed to date.

Contrast that to the technical analysis and cause and effect relationship upon which EPA is basing its proposal for the "regional haze" regulations. While I cannot and do not intend to argue the basis for all of the relationships developed within the technical documents used by EPA to support its proposal, Nebraska has serious concerns with the technical basis for this proposal as it applies to our State. I believe that I can provide a couple of examples to demonstrate that this technical analysis cannot and should not be used to impose a requirement for SIP development on Nebraska.

First, while I know that most of you may have some familiarity with Nebraska, it is important to provide some demographic details for you in order to provide a background for the following comments. Nebraska is and personifies the Midwest. In fact, some have described us as the transition between the eastern States and the square States, i.e. those west of us. The land form of Nebraska could be described as a tilted table top that rises from the eastern border on the Missouri River with an elevation of approximately 1,000 feet above sea level to the western border that abuts Colorado and Wyoming at elevations of some 5,000 feet at the highest point. There is a significant series of rivers that flow eastward across Nebraska ultimately draining into the Missouri River. Nebraska covers approximately 77,000 square miles with a population of approximately 1.6 million people. Two˙2Dthirds of the population reside in the eastern one˙2Dthird of the State. Nebraska is a leading agricultural production State with corn, soy bean, sorghum, and other crops of national significance along with cattle, swine, and poultry production of very significant levels. Nebraska has never been a "smokestack industry State even though we have significant industrial activity spread throughout the State. Nebraska has 93 counties with Cherry County, the largest, at 5,961 sq. miles rivaling the area of some eastern States. These are important factors, not just as a geography lesson but because they help us analyze and critique EPA's technical analysis of Nebraska's impact on regional haze".

Section 169a(b) requires EPA to adopt regulations to implement the visibility protection provisions for Federal Class I areas and specifically requires that "each applicable implementation plan for a State in which any area listed by the Administrator under subsection (a)(2) is located (or for a State the emissions from which may reasonably be anticipated to cause or contribute to any impairment of visibility in such area) to contain such emission limits, schedules of compliance and other measures as may be necessary to make reasonable progress towards meeting the national goal specified in subsection (a), ...".

Quite clearly, it is incumbent upon EPA to conclude that there is a reasonable anticipation that emissions from a State cause or contribute to any impairment of visibility in a Class I area as a prerequisite for the determination that an implementation plan for that State is required. It is with the issue of "may reasonably be anticipated" that causes us great concern. As I noted previously, most people recognize that the technical basis for the OTAG conclusions was the most rigorous and most critically conducted ongoing peer review process of any air pollution cause and effect analysis conducted to date. That level of rigor creates confidence in the regulated community; it creates confidence in the regulatory community, and it creates confidence with the general public. While we do not argue even in the slightest that "regional haze" does not occur, we must argue very strongly that EPA's analysis as it relates to Nebraska and probably a number of other rural States is significantly deficient in its rigor. As such, it falls significantly short of what is necessary in order for EPA to reach a "may reasonably be anticipated" conclusion.

The following two examples demonstrate that EPA's technical analysis is insufficient to draw a conclusion that a SIP is required from Nebraska:

As I indicated earlier, much of Nebraska is rural agricultural country with a low population density. Along with the low population density the number of vehicle miles traveled in these rural counties is low as is the number of road miles. As a result, most of us who have been around the air pollution control scene for a number of years would not expect a large potential for air pollution emissions from travel related activities in these rural counties. For instance, Cherry County that I've already mentioned has an area of 5,961 square miles with a population of 6,307 persons (slightly more than 1 person per square mile) with 1,808 road miles. The neighboring county, Sheridan County, is slightly less than half that size at 2,543 sq. miles with a slightly larger population of 6,750, but with 1,504 road miles. These two counties can certainly not be described as bustling metropolises from which you would expect significant automobile and travel~ related emissions. They are also not industrial complexes and in fact are not listed as having any point source emissions that affect visibility or create regional haze".

Rather, they are primarily livestock ranching counties where the grass is the major product and the livestock are simply used to harvest that grass. However, Sheridan County is calculated in EPA's technical document as contributing 2.2% to the regional haze indicator in the badlands wilderness area and national park in South Dakota. At the same time, Campbell County, Wyoming, which is the largest single coal˙2Dproducing area in the world with a potential to produce more than 300 million tons of coal a year is listed in this analysis as contributing only 3.21% of the regional haze parameter in the badlands wilderness area and national park. While Cherry County is listed as a 2.22% contributor, Sheridan County is listed as a 1.79% contributor. I would submit to the committee that this comparison alone provides ample reason for EPA to conclude that its technical analysis is flawed and therefore, that it should withdraw its proposed regulations until it can conduct a more justifiable analysis. EPA's contractor recognized that there were problems with some of their modeling results when they stated that "modeled primary PM2.5 concentrations range from as low as 1 microgram per cubic meter in much of the west to 13 to 107 micrograms per cubic meter in urban areas and even in non˙2Durban States like Oklahoma. The latter modeled concentrations are definitely not in line with measurements. It appears that fugitive dust emissions may be overestimated by as much as an order of magnitude. Similar overestimates are also made for primary PM10."

If States are to be required to prepare State Implementation Plans, the basis for that requirement should certainly be something better than an accuracy of "an order of magnitude". In trying to understand the basis for the Cherry County and Sheridan County contributions at the Badlands Wilderness Area and National Park, we were advised that the total road dust emissions for the State of Nebraska were apportioned to the individual counties based upon the percentage of that county's area to the State area of 77,000 square miles. Thus, even though the Sheridan County population is only .398% of the population, because it has 7.75% of the land area in the State, the road dust emissions assigned to Cherry County was 7.75% of the State total, or about 19 times what the level would be if the travel emissions were apportioned on the basis of population.

Sheridan County suffers from the same kind of comparison. At 2,543 sq. miles it represents 3.19% of the total land area and its population of 6,750 represents .426% of the population, thus the road dust emissions for Sheridan County are calculated as 3.19% of the State total or about 8 times what would be calculated if the apportionment was based upon population. Quite clearly, this kind of analysis does not incorporate the kind of rigor that should be required in order to determine that Nebraska may reasonably be anticipated to contribute to visibility impairment in the badlands wilderness area or national park in South Dakota.

The second example that highlights the problem of an inadequate technical analysis involves two other counties in Nebraska and the projection that the emissions from these two counties cause an impairment in visibility in the Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian˙2DUnited States border in Minnesota. Once again, the two counties implicated by the technical analysis are rural counties that are agricultural in nature. Cuming and Cedar Counties are located in the extreme northeast portion of Nebraska with the northern border of cedar county defined by the Missouri River. Keep in mind, that these two counties in north˙2Deastern Nebraska are some 750 miles (1250 km) south/southwest of the Voyageur Wilderness Area in Minnesota. While Cherry and Sheridan Counties are primarily characterized as grazing land, Cedar and Cuming Counties would be characterized primarily as agricultural cropland with a significant grazing land component. Corn and other grains are the primary crops with beef and swine the primary non˙2Dcrop agricultural products. As with Sheridan and Cherry Counties, Cuming and Cedar Counties are not bastions of industrial production. This is not a "smokestack industry area; the emissions, whatever they might be, are ground level emissions associated with agricultural production and people activity. Cuming County is 575 square miles in size with a population of 10,117 while Cedar County has a population of 10,131 in 740 sq. miles. While we in Nebraska know Cuming and Cedar Counties as being industrious agricultural production areas, they are known to the EPA as those two Nebraska counties that are "reasonably anticipated" to cause impairment of visibility in the Voyageur Wilderness Area in Minnesota. EPA's modeling analysis indicates that Cuming County contributes .23% of the regional haze indicator in Voyageur National Park while Cedar County contributes .199%.

While someone might be able to convince me that this analysis is sufficient to provide a basis for EPA to require Nebraska to develop a SIP., at this point in time it simply defies all logic.

Having pointed to two examples in Nebraska that should certainly call into question the technical analysis on which EPA bases its proposed regulation, it is also of interest to look at the two Class I areas in these examples to ask a more basic question. That is, what do we know about the visibility impairment in these two areas and what do all of these numbers mean? with respect to the Badlands Wilderness Area National Park in South Dakota, we understand that the environmental protection agency under a Federal implementation plan has gathered some data but has not provided an analysis of that data. In fact, we understand that a contractor is currently performing that analysis and expects to issue a report near the end of July. What that tells me is, we don't really know whether there is a visibility problem in that mandatory Class I area or not, but Nebraska under EPA's proposed regulation will be required to develop an implementation plan to address that impairment.

Our inquiries about visibility data gathering in the voyageur national park in order to characterize actual visibility there has been unrevealing. We are not aware of any data that has been gathered. In fact, the actual technical reports present the modeling data and EPA has used this to make its proposed decision. In attempting to compare the modeling data with actual monitoring data, we ae advised that the source attribution tables in the report were not meant to correlate with real numbers monitored in the Class I areas. Recent improve data ˙2D in the 30 sites that exist in Class I areas in the country ˙2D does show that the modeled total PM data in the report is frequently several times higher than the monitoring data.

On the other hand, EPA's mathematical (not monitored) analysis calculates that there is a level of visibility˙2Dimpairing pollution in the badlands wilderness area national park in South Dakota of 2.155 micrograms per cubic meter. The calculated value for the Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is 1.642 micrograms per cubic meter. These calculations are based upon a theoretical mathematical model. While this model may well have been compared to actual data gathered through analytical sampling processes, I would certainly question the precision that is inferred by the calculation of an impact down to 1/1000th of a microgram per cubic meter.

Using the data presented, Cherry County, Nebraska is calculated to contribute .047 micrograms per cubic meter of visibility˙2Dimpairing pollution in the badlands wilderness area. In the monitoring program protocol, this number would be rounded to zero. The corresponding calculation for the impact of cuming county, Nebraska in the voyageur wilderness area attributes .0033 micrograms per cubic meter to the total of 1.642 micrograms per cubic meter in voyageurs national park in Minnesota. This is certainly not a compelling case upon which to base a conclusion that the State of Nebraska reasonably attributes to visibility impairment in voyageurs national park.

developing implementation plans is a process that is extremely resource intensive. With respect to visibility˙2Dbased implementation plans under EPA's proposed regulations, this would be an even more resource intensive process given EPA's expectation that States would form regional commissions or regional groups to develop regional plans. Even the development of an in˙2Dstate implementation plan is a decision that is not made lightly. We are currently trying to address requirements for pm2.5 and ozone as well as phase 11 of the acid rain program. All of these activities could well be thought of as surrogates to solve whatever visibility impairment problem that is caused by emissions from the State of Nebraska. We do not have unused resources waiting to be applied to the development of a visibility SIP called for in EPA's proposal. Additionally, we are not aware of any additional federal resources that EPA is going to provide to us for the development of such a sip. Therefore, resources that will have to be applied to the development of a visibility SIP will have to come off the top from something else that we are doing. I can not overemphasize the point that decisions to require the development of SIP is one that should not be taken lightly.

As we have discussed our concerns with EPA, EPA has responded to us by saying that States could argue in the initial SIP submittal that their contribution was so small as to make further measures unreasonable. I would submit to you that if EPA can approve a "do nothing" strategy based upon a minimal impact contribution in a SIP demonstration, the same approach should and ought to be used to determine whether or not a State needs to submit a SIP revision at all. I am baffled by the rationale here that requires us to utilize scarce resources to develop an answer that says we don't have to do anything. This is analagous to EPA's saying "we find you guilty, but we will now parole you because there was no basis for the guilty verdict; but by the way, you still have to develop the SIP and you have to have a process of revising that SIP every three years".

A more rigorous and technically sound rational requirement for imposing these provisions on a State should be required.

Let me conclude by dispelling any notion that Nebraska is uncaring about the importance of visibility as an attribute with a value unto itself. The public unquestionably values the ability to enjoy and admire the beauty of our precious class I areas. We would not support a policy of neglect. In fact, we in Nebraska have beautiful scenes and vistas in our State that are as important to us even though they are not class I areas. We respect the concerns of South Dakota and Minnesota just as we know they respect ours.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to provide this testimony to you. I would be very pleased to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you.