U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   04/01/2004
Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Implementation of NAAQS on PM2.5

This hearing is very important and timely. The implementation of our nation’s ambient air quality standards (or NAAQS), and the Clean Air Act in general, is a matter of life and death. Approximately 70,000 Americans die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution, according to researchers at Harvard University.

The main cause of these deaths is fine particulate matter, also known as PM- 2.5. The bulk of this pollution comes from power plants, diesel fuel combustion and elsewhere.

Ozone is a serious lung irritant that can trigger asthma or even cause it, and has recently been linked to birth defects. If the country was achieving the 8-hour ozone standard, we could prevent nearly 400,000 asthma attacks, 5,000 hospital admissions and about 600,000 lost school days every year. Unfortunately, the trend on ozone pollution has been going the wrong way for the last few years, according to EPA’s 2002 Trends Report.

Concentrations will increase as population grows and the average temperature rises. And, 200 million Americans have an increased risk of cancer, reproductive dysfunction, developmental problems, and other health effects due to air toxics exposure.

What has this Administration’s response been to these and other troubling facts?

To issue rules to gut the New Source Review (NSR) program so that large polluting sources could be exempt from applying modern pollution controls permanently. This exemption would condemn thousands of people to an earlier death every year and delays attainment.

To halt or slow-walk investigations and the enforcement of NSR requirements, not to mention obstructing Congressional oversight.

To propose power plant reductions that are too little and too late to help areas achieve attainment of the standards, or obtain quick recovery of ecosystems sensitive to acid rain.

To delay non-attainment designations.

To delay revisions to the air quality standards that would be more health protective.

To propose to violate a settlement agreement and defer any mercury reductions for at least 10 years longer than the law provides, unnecessarily exposing more than 600,000 women and children to health risks.

To pretend that manmade carbon dioxide emissions are not having an impact on the global climate system.

To issue all sorts of environmental rules without an adequate consideration of the risks, benefits and costs associated with them.

All of this adds up to more disease, damage and death, due to closed-door policy making. And, coincidentally, more profits for polluters.

This Administration has a growing credibility gap, maybe even a credibility chasm on air pollution policy. I am hopeful that Mr. Leavitt will have more luck than his predecessor in rebuilding trust with Congress and with the public, but I am doubtful because of White House influence.

How could the Administrator build trust? To start:

Withdraw the mercury proposal, as I and 44 other Senators are requesting today.

Stop the filibustering of the PM-2.5 review.

Work constructively with Congress to get a 4-pollutant bill, sooner rather than later.

Add one new dangerous chemical to the list of hazardous air pollutants, for the first time.

Give Congress and this Committee access to the documents on decision- making that we have requested.

Do the analysis that EPA promised on a wide-range of mercury MACT standards.

Request an Inspector General investigation of industry memoranda in EPA’s mercury rule.

The Administration could also make sure that the ozone implementation rule does not add delay on top of the seven years of delay that we have already had. That delay has caused a public health train wreck, because more stringent standards are needed now based on current scientific findings. Even this scientific standard review process has been delayed by those less interested in protecting public health.

I ask that a brief history of the delays in the review process and a list of some of relevant health studies from 2003 be placed in the record.

Unfortunately, the current version of the draft final rule to implement the 8-hour ozone standard is flawed, incomplete and late. The PM-2.5 rule is late too. There are problems with revoking the 1-hour ozone standard. The new classification scheme should not be used to grant inappropriate extensions of attainment deadlines, especially if that would be unfair to areas that have attained.

I know that my expectations are high. But, when life is in the balance, we can and must do better. I urge the Administration and the Administrator to bridge the chasm that currently looms. By doing some of the things that I have suggested and working with us in Congress, there might be a chance of rebuilding trust and credibility.

That would go a long way to really making our air cleaner and our people healthier.

Thank you.


History of the Delays
Milestones in the Particulate Matter and Ozone NAAQS Reviews

Particulate Matter (PM)

July 1997 -- Presidential memo directing completion of review within 5 years, by 2002
October 1997 -- FR Notice of Laying out Schedule for Review
February 1998 -- Draft PM CD Development Plan for CASAC Review
April 1998 -- FR Notice -- Initial call for information
May 1998 -- CASAC meeting to review Development Plan
Summer 1998 -- NCEA began drafting chapters of CD
August 1998 -- Revised Schedule for Development of PM Workshop Draft Chapters
April 1999 -- Peer Review Workshop to discuss draft chapters of CD
May 1999 -- Request for recently published papers and manuscripts
October 1999 -- 1st External Review Draft of CD
November 1999 -- OAQPS Development Plan for SP
December 1999 -- CASAC and public review of 1st Draft CD and Development Plan
September 2000 -- Original target date for completion of CD
March 2001 -- 2nd External Review Draft of CD
April 2001 -- Five years from completion of 1996 CD
June 2001 -- Preliminary Draft SP and RA Scoping Plan
July 2001 -- CASAC and public review of Second Draft CD, SP, and RA Scoping Plan
January 2002 -- Proposed Methodology for RA
February 2002 -- CASAC consultation on RA methodology
April 2002 -- 3rd External Review Draft of CD
May 2002 -- CASAC teleconference on RA methodology
July 2002 -- Five years from promulgation of 1997 NAAQS
July 2002 -- CASAC and public review of 3rd Draft CD
November 2002 -- EPA workshop on statistical issues
December 2002 -- Health and environmental groups file 60-day notice
March 2003 -- Health and environmental groups file Complaint in U.S. District Court
April 2003 -- Preliminary Draft Methodology for coarse particle RA
May 2003 -- CASAC consultation on coarse particle RA
May 2003 --HEI Report on Reanalyzed Time-Series Studies
June 2003 -- 4th External Review Draft of CD
July 2003 -- Consent Decree with Schedule for Review Filed in U.S. District Court
August 2003 -- CASAC and public review of 4th draft CD
August 2003 -- Draft OAQPS SP and RA
October 2003 -- CASAC teleconference to review framework for new 4th draft Chapter 9 November 2003 -- CASAC meeting to review 1st Draft SP
December 2003 -- First extension of Consent Decree filed in U.S. District Court
December 2003 -- 5th Draft of CD Chapters 7 and 8
February 2004 -- CASAC teleconference to review 5th draft Chapters 7 and 8
February 2004 -- EPA initiates discussion of second extension to Consent Decree

April 2001 -- Five years from completion of 1996 CD
July 2002 -- Five years from promulgation of 1997 NAAQS
November 2002 -- Draft Ozone CD Development Plan released for public comment
December 2002 -- Health and Environmental Groups file 60-day notice
February 2003 -- CASAC Teleconference to review CD Development Plan
March 2003 -- Health and Environmental Groups file Complaint in U.S. District Court
July 2003 -- Consent Decree with Schedule for Review Filed in U.S. District Court
October 2003 -- Peer Review Workshop to review draft chapters 2,3,5,6 of the CD

CD = Criteria Document, SP= Staff Paper, RA= Risk Analysis