Statement of Senator Baucus
Senate Committee on the Judiciary and
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Joint hearing on the Clean Air Act=s
New Source Review program, policy, regulations, and enforcement activities
Chairman Leahy and Chairman Jeffords, I apologize for being unable to attend this hearing today. I had to chair a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee and attend another hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. I just couldn’t be in three places at once. Thank you for allowing me to submit this statement for the record.
The debate over New Source Review (NSR) has become increasingly intense, confusing and complex. I applaud you both, Chairman Leahy and Chairman Jeffords, for holding this hearing to help us clarify what is truly at issue in this debate, and to better understand EPA=s proposed NSR reforms and how those reforms could impact public health and the environment.
I think we all can agree with the ultimate goals of the NSR program, which put simply, are to encourage the continuous evolution of pollution control technology, and to make sure that as older power plants reach the end of their useful life, they are gradually replaced by plants with the newest, and most up to date pollution control technology. This has obvious benefits for the environment and public health, as harmful emissions are theoretically reduced over time. It also attempts to level the playing field for new plants, while giving older plants some flexibility in complying with stricter pollution control requirements that involve significant capital investments.
However, it does seem pretty clear that many folks believe the administration of the NSR program could be improved, that currently, the program is complex and difficult for state agencies to administer. Industry also claims the current program blocks them from making necessary environmental or energy efficiency improvements at their plants.
Therefore, maybe it is time for Congress to take a look at the effectiveness of the current NSR program, and consider whether it should direct EPA to make any changes. But, let me very clear, if any changes to the NSR program are necessary, they should relate to reducing the administrative burden on states and industry, in order to make the program operate more efficiently and effectively. In no way should administrative changes to NSR lessen the impact of the NSR program on reducing harmful air emissions over time. In no way should NSR “reforms” relieve industry of the basic obligation to install the most up-to-date pollution controls if they modify their operations and increase their emissions.
I know that the devil is in the details. But, I am concerned that the Administration=s proposed NSR reforms go too far and will negate Congress’ intent in crafting New Source Review. Therefore, I am pleased we will have this hearing record to better understand what the Administration believes the impacts of its proposed NSR reforms will be on public health and the environment and on current NSR enforcement actions, and how states, industry and public interest groups view the impacts of those reforms.
Thank-you again, Chairman Leahy and Chairman Jeffords, for holding this hearing and allowing me to submit this statement for the record.