U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   04/01/2004
Statment of Senator George V. Voinovich
Implementation of NAAQS on PM2.5

The hearing will come to order. Good morning and thank you all for coming. We are here today to conduct oversight on the implementation of the new air quality standards for particulate matter and ozone.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and assigns primary responsibility to the states to assure compliance with them. The standards are set without consideration of costs to protect public health and welfare with an adequate margin of safety. Areas not meeting the standards are designated as nonattainment and are required to implement specified air pollution control measures.

EPA is required to review the scientific data every five years and revise the standards, if appropriate. In 1997, EPA set a new more stringent 8-hour ozone standard and a fine particulate standard – or PM2.5. This year, EPA will finalize designations and implementation rules for both standards.

It is very important for us to put these standards in context. Our air is not getting dirtier. On the contrary, our air is significantly cleaner.

I remember well when the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970. I was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and was working on legislation to create the Ohio EPA. [CHART 1] Since 1970 – while Gross Domestic Product has increased by 164 percent, vehicle miles traveled by 155 percent, energy consumption by 42 percent, and population by 38 percent – emissions of the six criteria plants have been reduced by 48 percent.

This success in improving our environment is simply not told enough, and air quality standards are an important part of this story. Still, we need to do more.

I have been intimately involved with improving air quality throughout my 37-year public career. As Governor, I was very concerned with my responsibilities to the environment and believed strongly that we needed to do a better job in reducing emissions to improve the environment and protect public health. We worked to more than double Ohio EPA’s budget from $69 million in 1991 to $149 million in 1998.

I am very familiar with the difficult decisions that must be made by a state to bring counties into attainment. When I began my term as governor, 28 out of Ohio’s 88 counties were in non-attainment for ozone. We worked with the state legislature to create a situation where American Electric Power could install scrubbers costing $616 million dollars to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the country.

As part of bringing the state into compliance with the NAAQS, we chose to implement an automobile emissions testing program – called E-check – because it made the most sense from a cost-benefit standpoint. This program was not popular and Ohio’s General Assembly passed a bill to remove the program. I vetoed this bill because I understood the importance of programs such as this to meet the air quality standards.

Furthermore, we implemented regulations to capture vapors when motorists fuel their cars, required controls on industrial sources, and pushed to get a 15 percent reduction in emissions in each nonattainment area.

Due to the success of these efforts, air toxins in Ohio have been reduced significantly – from approximately 381 million pounds in 1987 to 144 million pounds in 1996. Since the 1970s, Ohio levels of carbon monoxide have been reduced by more than 70 percent, sulfur dioxide by 90 percent, lead by 95 percent, and ozone by 27 percent.

While all of Ohio now meets the air quality standards, these improvements have not been without cost. Over the last 10 years, Ohio has spent more on emissions reductions than New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C. combined.

And the costs of attaining the new air quality standards for particulate matter and ozone will be even more costly. [CHART 2] This chart shows all of the counties that were exceeding the new air quality standards over the 2000 to 2002 period. Although you may like the colors, this is not a pretty picture – yellow is for those counties not meeting the ozone standard, orange for PM2.5, and red for both. When surrounding counties are added, the number of nonattainment counties in the country is likely to be over 500 for the 8-hour ozone standard and over 200 for PM2.5.

This is no April Fool’s Day Joke, these standards are a wet blanket on the nation. When EPA proposed the new standards in 1997, the Agency estimated that bringing all areas of the country into attainment with the standards by the year 2010 would cost about $46 billion annually and other analyses claimed significant job losses.

The projected impact of these standards has caused a great deal of concern in nonattainment counties that they will cause the loss of jobs, restrict economic growth, discourage plant location, and encourage manufacturers to move overseas.

As was highlighted last week during the natural gas hearing, our manufacturers and businesses cannot absorb any more costs and still compete globally.

During the 1990s, we were able to bring new businesses to Ohio. For three consecutive years, starting in 1993, Ohio won Site Selection Magazine’s highly coveted Governor’s Cup, which recognizes the state in which the most new or expanded plant activity took place.

While this is the good news, the question is whether we can keep these businesses and attract more? [CHART 3] When I look at this chart, I am not so sure. This is a map of the projected nonattainment counties in Ohio. Right now, business owners are looking at this same map and thinking twice about moving operations to or expanding existing plants in Ohio.

Unfortunately, this story gets worse before it gets better. [CHART 4] This chart shows all of the different Clean Air Act regulations that states, localities, and businesses are going to have to deal with over the next decade. We are only at the beginning of this uncertain mess.

Additionally, as a result of our courtrooms being cluttered up with lawsuits by environmental and industry groups, we have not made the progress that we could to improve our environment and protect public health.

That is why the Clear Skies Act is so desperately needed. It presents a very clear path forward on where we are going and when, and provides the flexibility needed to get there. It cleans up the regulatory mess, greatly helps states and localities bring counties into attainment, and provides the certainty needed to make significant environmental benefits.

[CHART 5] This chart clearly shows the benefit of Clear Skies in terms of meeting the air quality standards. By 2010, EPA estimates that this legislation would bring 42 additional counties with 14 million people into attainment for the PM2.5 standards sooner than under existing programs. Under Clear Skies, more than 20 million additional people would be breathing air that meets the national standards by 2020.

There is no doubt that we can and should do more to improve our air quality. While bringing these counties across the nation into attainment for the air quality standards will make great progress, it could be very costly and cumbersome if we do not approach them carefully. The Clear Skies Act will get clean air faster and reduce the negative impact of the new standards.

We need this legislation to help states and localities deal with these standards. We need this legislation to provide certainty and keep jobs in this country. We need this legislation to dramatically improve our environment.

While Clear Skies is needed, the provisions in EPA’s implementation rules will have significant effect. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on how these standards can be implemented in a way that maximizes cleaning up the environment and protecting public health and minimizes the impact on states and localities across the nation.

I remind my colleagues and the witnesses that this hearing is not about the standards themselves. The battle on the standards has already been fought, and we will not be re-litigating them here today. They are what they are and counties across the country will need to meet them.

Thank you.