Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing
"Review of EPA’s Proposed Revision to the Ozone NAAQS."
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 SD 406 10:00 am
Mr. Chairman, this is a timely oversight hearing. EPA’s proposed ozone standard is flawed. If enacted, it would have enormous consequences for our nation, with the disadvantaged among the hardest hit. Defenders of tightening the ozone standard will say that the law does not take into account the economic devastation, the loss of jobs, and ruined lives that will be left in its wake. But it should. And more to the point, we should.
Defenders of tightening the standard will say that it is not necessary that EPA rely on peer-reviewed studies or that those that are peer-reviewed are directly applicable to setting an 8-hour ozone standard. But it should. And we should demand that they do so.
The fact is this proposal is ripe with political considerations, with little thought given to the people who will be forced to endure its consequences. We have here today Dr. McClellan, a past Chair of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee who has detailed the many flaws and questionable approaches taken in justification of this proposal. The science panel no longer offers its judgment of the scientific integrity of the process, but its policy opinions. There are large scientific uncertainties regarding confounding, attribution, and risk.
Mr. Administrator, I find it odd that our government would force cities to comply with standards over which they have no control. As we regulate almost every city in America under this standard, even collectively they cannot control the outcome because you have included emissions from Mexico and Canada . What is truly perverse is that as you send jobs over the border, these in turn become emissions we cannot control within our borders. But cities will be penalized nevertheless.
I want to turn your attention to this EPA map. Oklahoma , like many States, has made tremendous progress in cleaning up its air. Not a single county in Oklahoma is in violation of the ozone standards. Not a single one, Mr. Administrator. Yet your proposal will put virtually the entire State into non-attainment. How is it that EPA last year considered States like Oklahoma to have clean air that was healthy to breathe, yet next year it will consider the air unhealthy – even as their pollution levels continue to plummet?
We are hearing testimony today that it will be burdensome on communities if you finalize your proposal, Mr. Administrator. Let me be clear: lost jobs and closing factories are a health risk. As others have said, access to medical care is a health risk in disadvantaged communities. How many people will lose health coverage as a result of this rule, Mr. Administrator?
If the rebuilding of communities ravaged by Katrina is slowed or stalled, tell me how this rule will enhance the quality of life of the people trying to return their lives to normalcy.
I am not asking you to take concerns into account that you are not allowed by law. Instead, I am asking you to see the enormous importance of this decision and to ensure that your decision does not go beyond what you are required to do – that is, set the standard a level requisite to protect the public health.
I also encourage you to focus more of your attention to where it should be – getting areas with truly dirty air into compliance with the existing law. It is why today I am reintroducing the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement Act to provide you the tools necessary to force areas that have ignored existing clean air laws and are in serious nonattainment with ozone standards as well as nonattainment with particulate matter standards. It is time the free ride ends. We can no longer trust these areas will step up to the plate voluntarily – it is time EPA had the tools to ensure these dirty air areas cleaned up their act.
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