CONGRESSMAN SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R-NY)
TESTIMONY BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE
ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
November 1, 2001
Thank you for allowing me to appear at this important hearing. My testimony will be brief. I’m really here to make one simple, but significant point – the four-pollutant bill has bicameral and bipartisan (I guess I should say tri-partisan) support.
Congressman Waxman and I are as committed as ever to moving forward with the companion four-pollutant bill we introduced in the House.
Now some may say, “How can you talk about environmental legislation at a time like this?” My response is that just as we are being urged to carry on with our daily lives despite terrorist threats; we must carry on with the full gamut of our legislative business in the face of those threats.
We must do so because our environmental problems are just as real, just as significant, and just as solvable as they were before September 11th.
The lakes in the Adirondacks are still acidifying. The ecological and economic consequences of that acidification are still serious.
The obvious damage caused by terrorists does not make the insidious damage caused by pollution any less threatening. Indeed, the consequences of global climate change will still be with us long after the war in Afghanistan is a distant event students will have to learn about from history books.
Now, even those who accept this analysis may say, “Okay, but should we be passing laws now that could make us more dependent on imported sources of energy?” My answer is that we ought to be attacking our dependence on foreign oil primarily by becoming more energy efficient and developing alternative fuels, not by blithely ignoring the long-term environmental and economic costs associated with our continuing dependence on coal. Moreover, coal would still be a significant fuel after the passage of a four-pollutant bill, and substitutes for coal are readily available in North America.
So I think that if anything, the debate this Committee is bringing to a head is long overdue. And I hope this hearing will be a first step in bringing all the federal, state and private sector players to the table for serious and (relatively) swift discussions about how to phase in a strict four-pollutant regime – a cost-effective regime that would give Americans cleaner air while giving utilities greater regulatory certainty.
Let me emphasize, though, that that regulatory certainty should come to be only – only – as part of a new regime that will significantly reduce the emissions from power generation. I would strongly oppose making any changes in New Source Review (NSR) unless they are implemented as part of, and at the same time as, a new pollution control regime.
And let me add with my own Committee hat on that we are being pushed toward a new pollution control regime by science. The more we learn about air emissions, the more we understand the imperative to limit them.
For example, the new studies of acid rain that were released this past spring indicated clearly that without further cuts in both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, acid rain will continue to deplete soils, damage trees, acidify lakes and kill fish. The good news, though, is that the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments are having a noticeable, positive impact, demonstrating that we have the power to remedy the situation.
Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences review of climate change science, issued this past spring at the request of the President, clearly indicates that, despite continuing uncertainties, climate change is a real and serious threat. But there, too, reviews, such as the Department of Energy’s Five Laboratories study, indicate that we have the wherewithal to attack the problem.
So I want to congratulate you for holding this hearing and urge you to move forward as speedily as possible with a four-pollutant bill. On the other side of the Capitol and on both sides of the aisle, we are ready to work with you.