Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
Joint Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee and
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
July 16, 2002
I thank both Chairmen for convening today’s hearing.
Mr. Chairmen, air quality problems continue to plague New Jerseyans. Some of these problems are of our own making. But according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, one-third of New Jersey’s air quality problems originate outside of New Jersey.
That’s why enforcement of federal clean air laws is so important. And that’s one of the reasons why the Clean Air Act New Source Review provisions are so important to my state.
So I look forward to hearing the Administration explain their New Source Review proposals in more detail. Because as far as I can tell, the proposals are rollbacks, pure and simple. They may be help industry, but they’re going to hurt public health in New Jersey and across the country. In fact, Abt (pronounced Apt) Associates estimates that that rolling back New Source Review will result in 160-220 premature deaths annually and between 3,000 and 4,300 asthma attacks annually in New Jersey alone.
If the Administration disagrees with these numbers, then I invite them to produce their own. Because to my knowledge, the Administration has not conducted an analysis of the health impacts of their proposals.
For that matter, I don’t think that the Administration has conducted a rigorous analysis of the business impacts of the current NSR rules that they are proposing to change. Today’s EPA testimony asserts that uncertainty about the current NSR rules “has resulted in the delay or cancellation of some projects that would maintain or improve reliability, efficiency and safety of existing energy capacity.” This is vague, anecdotal evidence at best, and is no basis for trading away the tangible health benefits that have been and can yet be achieved by rigorously enforcing NSR.
Mr. Chairmen, I won’t take up too much more time, as we have many other members to hear from and many witnesses to hear from as well. But I do want to run through just a few additional points, because this issue is so important.
First, I am greatly concerned about the effect of the proposals on pending NSR cases. In New Jersey, PSEG settled with EPA earlier this year. But many of PSEG’s competitors are stalling, betting that they can wait out the Administration’s changes. Now the Administration will argue that its proposals will have no effect on ongoing NSR enforcement. Yet we will hear testimony today that proves that the proposals have already impacted ongoing cases.
Second, I am concerned about the impacts of the proposals on the full range of pollution sources that they apply to. The Administration offers its Clear Skies proposal as better way to achieve air quality benefits than New Source Review. Yet Clear Skies applies only to power plants, while New Source Review applies to thousands of other sources of pollution such as oil refineries. What is the Administration’s plan for continuing to protect the health of families who live near refineries?
Third, I am concerned that the Administration’s proposals may run counter to the intent of the Clean Air Act. In spite of claims to the contrary, NSR has consistently been interpreted to allow for only de minimis increases in pollution from grandfathered sources without triggering installation of new pollution control technologies. But it appears that the Administration proposals will have the effect of allowing significant pollution increases without triggering NSR requirements.
Mr. Chairmen, I think the question before us today is simple. Will the Administration proceed with its NSR proposals? Will they allow industry to continue to operate old, dirty plants indefinitely? Or will the Administration fulfill the promise of the Clean Air Act by pulling these proposals and vigorously enforcing New Source Review to protect New Jerseyans and all Americans. Thank you.