STATEMENT BY SENATOR BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL IN A HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS CONSIDERING S. 556
November 15, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate another opportunity to discuss S. 556 and, in particular, its effects on the environment and the economy.
I must reiterate my strong opposition to this bill for several reasons. Principally, I oppose this bill because it fails to recognize the distinctions in air quality between the East and the West. Traditionally, the federal government has recognized the inherent differences between the West and the East, and has allowed disparate treatment in the law to reflect those differences. For example, the federal government has recognized the particular scarcity of water in the West, that water rights are treated separate from the land, and has historically deferred to state water courts in adjudicating claims.
Yet, S. 556 is contrary to the traditionally recognized distinctions and resulting disparate treatment based on distinctions between the East and West.
First, this bill mandates sulfur dioxide emissions reductions by 75 percent, but completely ignores regional approaches to address the pollutant. S. 556 fails to even consider the careful work of the Western Regional Air Partnership, amounting to a slap in the face to many.
Further, the AClean Power Act@ would impose significant reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions throughout the entire country. Yet, data raises issue whether the West even has a NOX problem at all. Surely this bill is not intended to require powerplants to make significant reductions where none are necessary.
One of the witnesses here today, the American Lung Association, an organization that I respect considerably, states that sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions shorten the lives of 31,200 people every year. Where are these people? We already know that NOX is not a problem in the West, and that total SOX emissions are only one tenth of the emissions in the rest of the nation.
The evidence suggests that the at-risk people identified by the American Lung Association are concentrated in the East, not in the West. Perhaps, the East=s poor air quality is the reason why my home state of Colorado=s population is projected to increase more than forty percent by 2015.
I highlight these points in order to show that this bill is tailored specifically for Eastern concerns without any regard for the West.
Secondly, S. 556's pollution reduction schedule has been widely criticized as unrealistic, and that mercury monitoring and abatement technology is untested and untrue. Some members of the Committee might scoff at such criticism as an expected and insincere reaction by a dirty industry that simply doesn=t want to clean up. That may or may not be true.
I would only ask those Senators to consider where they are getting their counters to the power industry. According to the witnesses listed today, they are relying on the Institute of Clean Air Companies, a national association of companies that sell the very same technology that industry must purchase in order to meet those Aunrealistic targets.@
I should note that when I refer to the West, I exclude California because, unlike many of the other Western states, it does have serious air quality concerns. While that is true, it is important to note that California does not have a single coal fired plant contributing to that poor air quality.
By any measure, S. 556 would significantly affect the coal industry, resulting in likely fuel switching to natural gas, and definite and dramatic electricity costs for rate payers. This bill would particularly disadvantage the people of Colorado, as more than eighty percent of my state=s electricity is coal fired. Simply put, I must oppose any legislation that would significantly raise costs to low and medium income families without any corresponding gains in health or quality of life.
Lastly, I oppose this bill because it calls for significant reductions in carbon dioxide, effectively reducing the use of coal. Our nation is in a time where we should focus on diversifying energy sources, and improving upon the ones we have. That is why I support clean coal technology and distributed energy research. I hope to revisit those issues if we ever move forward with a comprehensive energy bill.
We all recognize that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, yet by its inclusion in this multi-pollutant legislation, it is regard it as such. I can think of two reasons for that. First, to promote fuel switching as I described earlier, or to reduce greenhouse gases pursuant to the Kyoto Protocol, which the President of the United States has already addressed.
Rather than debate global warming, I ask the Committee to consider what we would gain if the Kyoto Protocol were implemented. New research has demonstrated that we would effectively postpone warming by six years, from 2094 to 2100, at a cost to the industrialized countries of the world of $80 to $350 billion per year.
Mr. Chairman, I am eager to work with the members of the Committee to achieve a balanced approach that considers Western regional differences.
Thank you and I ask that a copy of my statement be made a part of the Record.