U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   07/13/2006
 
Statement of Larry J. Gould
Chairman
Lenawee Board of Commissioners
EPA’s Proposed Revisions to the Particulate Matter Air Quality Standards

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. My name is Larry Gould. I am chairperson of the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners, a position I have held since 2001. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today regarding EPA’s proposed revision of the PM2.5 standard.

By way of background, I have served as a County Commissioner for Lenawee County, Michigan, for the past 32 years. Lenawee County is located in southeast Michigan on the state line across from Ohio. The county seat, Adrian, is approximately 35 miles from Toledo, Ohio, 40 miles from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and 70 miles from Detroit. I have served as chairperson of the County’s Personnel/Ways and Means Committee for many years during my service on the County Commission. My family has been engaged in farming since the area was settled in 1835.

Lenawee County has a population of slightly over 100,000 and is largely rural. Being located near major metropolitan and industrial areas -- in particular, Detroit -- has affected Lenawee County’s air quality. As a consequence, Lenawee County has been designated by EPA as a “marginal” nonattainment county for EPA’s 8-hour ozone standard, despite the fact that the single monitor located in Lenawee has shown compliance with the ozone standard for the past six (6) years. Lenawee is designated nonattainment because all nine (9) ozone monitors throughout the Detroit area must show compliance with the standard. Seven other counties in southeast Michigan are also designated nonattainment for the 8-hour ozone standard.

Fortunately, Lenawee is not designated as nonattainment – at least not yet -- for any other National Ambient Air Quality Standard, including PM2.5. However, there are seven (7) Michigan counties that are designated nonattainment for the existing PM2.5 standard.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SMCOG) submitted an ozone attainment strategy to EPA in June 2005. This strategy is comprised of three categories of control measures: selected controls, contingency measures, and voluntary measures. Selected controls include a lower vapor pressure fuel. MDEQ and SMCOG are in the process of obtaining legal authority to implement these measures. However, without concerted efforts by our more populated neighbors to control their air emissions, any efforts by Lenawee County to regulate its own air emissions will almost certainly prove to be futile. This is the case with either ozone or a revised PM2.5 standard.

In January, EPA proposed to revise the 24-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5. EPA also asked for comment on whether to revise the annual PM2.5 standard. I am very concerned that a revision of the PM2.5 standard would result in Lenawee County being designated nonattainment for PM2.5 for the same reason the county is designated as nonattainment for ozone. That is, Lenawee would be included in a multi-county nonattainment area whose air quality is dominated largely by emissions from more heavily populated counties. Even though it is not our fault, Lenawee will be forced to comply with restrictions that are likely to impede our attempts to attract new industry and expand our economic base.

According to MDEQ, three counties with particulate matter monitors (Wayne, Monroe and Oakland) currently show a violation of the revised 24-hour standard proposed by EPA. I am aware of estimates that suggest a significant increase in the number of nonattainment counties in Michigan if the PM2.5 standard is revised. These estimates indicate that the 24-hour standard proposed by EPA combined with a modest revision of the annual standard could more than double the current number of nonattainment counties in Michigan from seven (7) counties to 16 counties. According to these estimates, Lenawee would be one of those 16 PM2.5 nonattainment counties. As a consequence, Lenawee, a rural county with a small population and good air quality, would be nonattainment for both ozone and a revised PM2.5 standard. This is not a prospect I look forward to as the chairperson of the Board of Commissioners.

Lenawee’s citizens and businesses will bear the costs of controlling emissions to reach attainment with the 8-hour ozone standard. We will almost certainly bear additional costs if EPA revises the PM2.5 standard and Lenawee is designated as nonattainment. It is difficult to predict what specific control measures Lenawee County would have to adopt in order to comply with a revised PM2.5 standard. As you know, state and local governments are still in the process of deciding how they will come into compliance with the current PM2.5 standard. In fact, this is one of my concerns. EPA might change the 1997 PM2.5 standard before states have come into compliance with it.

As you know, National Ambient Air Quality Standards are developed by EPA without regard to how much it would cost to comply with them. Costs for implementing and complying with air quality standards are borne to some extent by state and local governments. As a county commissioner, it is very clear to me that the costs of implementing clean air standards are significant unfunded federal mandates. The cost of these unfunded mandates can be substantial, with minimal air quality benefits for counties like Lenawee. For example, the Lenawee Board of County Road Commissioners informs me that highway funds have been made available to Lenawee County through Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funding to improve air quality in the county. However, they point out that the current level of CMAQ funding “appears to be a drop in the bucket” compared to the funding that will be needed if EPA makes the 1997 standards more stringent. In addition, the Michigan Association of Counties informs me that “any new particulate matter standards which push costs to the counties would be impossible for us to support, unless the commensurate amount of federal funding were appropriated for us to implement these standards.” The Association’s concern is based on its estimate that one third of Michigan’s counties are required to pay over $1.1 billion annually for federal and state mandates, but the counties are reimbursed for only half that amount.

There is little doubt in my mind that imposition of new mandates would have a negative impact on economic growth and development in Lenawee County. Like most counties in Michigan, Lenawee continues to struggle with high unemployment and an uncertain economy. I am concerned that nonattainment requirements are likely to impede ongoing efforts to expand economically and create jobs.

The Lenawee Chamber for Economic Development has written me recently to express their concern about the serious negative impacts to our local economy if EPA revises the PM2.5 standard. The Chamber points out the closure of plants and the continuing loss of manufacturing plants in Lenawee. Most of these plants were older and relied on out of date technologies. If Lenawee if classified as a PM2.5 nonattainment county, the Chamber believes that we will continue to lose jobs and have difficulty attracting facilities with newer and better environmental controls. In fact, the Chamber estimates that a nonattainment designation could result in the potential loss of over 1000 current jobs, three fourths of which would be in the chemical industry.

Over the past several years, Lenawee County has assumed a leadership role in developing facilities to produce cleaner burning fuels. A $60 million ethanol plant is currently under construction in the southeast part of our county, and a biodiesel blending facility is planned for construction in Adrian. The ethanol plant will produce 57 million gallons of ethanol annually and is expected to begin production early next year. We are proud of the jobs these facilities will bring to the county and the fact that cleaner burning fuels will help reduce harmful air emissions. Our plan is to almost double the capacity of the ethanol plant sometime in the future. However, I am very concerned that the expansion might face serious impediments and delays in obtaining the necessary air permits if Lenawee County is designated nonattainment for PM2.5. Because the biodiesel facility will blend rather than produce fuel, I hope that we will not encounter any significant problems if Lenawee is designated nonattainment.

Right now, I believe it makes more sense to focus our efforts at the state and local level on reaching attainment with the 1997 standards for ozone and PM2.5. I would urge EPA and Congress to provide state and local governments with all the administrative and financial support they need to implement the current standards, rather than change the standards now, which would increase the number of nonattainment counties, impose significant unfunded mandates on state and local government, and require other measures that are almost certain to adversely affect economic growth in areas like Lenawee County.