Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today on EPA’s proposed revisions to the particulate matter air quality standards.
• The air is dramatically cleaner than it was 35 years ago. There is 50% less air pollution of the six major air pollutants together including smog, soot and acid rain.
• These pollution reductions come over the same time the population increased by 42%, energy consumption rose by 48%, vehicle miles traveled rose by 178% and the economy grew by almost 200%.
• While the President’s legislation to cut smog, soot and mercury pollution from power plants by a further 70% was blocked by this Committee, EPA is moving forward with regulations to cut power plant air pollution by those amounts in the eastern part of the country.
• EPA has also implemented massive new pollution reductions requiring cleaner motor vehicle fuels and engines.
• Even now states and regions are busy putting together plans to meet EPA’s last round of pollution reduction requirements.
• Which makes you wonder why EPA is back again with proposals for further reductions when the current ones haven’t even had a chance to be implemented.
• States are certainly scratching their head. They strongly support, as do I, efforts to improve air quality and protect public health. But my home State of Missouri, and several other states as you noted Mr. Chairman, are terribly afraid of the pain this will inflict on them.
• This proposal and suggestions to go further will carry serious negative consequences for their families and workers harming jobs, mobility, energy prices, consumer choices and the quality of life.
• And States will be asked to write new plans to impose this pain before they are even finished with their latest new plans. They also won’t have a chance for their plans to account for the benefits coming from EPA’s recent pollution reduction requirements.
• So they recognize the serious disconnect between Washington and the real world.
• Shortly we will get to see the head of EPA’s Air program throw up his arms and say it isn’t his fault. The statute is making him do it.
• Supporters of EPA’s proposal correctly point out that a statute written 35 years ago and last amended 15 years ago requires this calamity.
• They point out, and the Supreme Court agrees, that the precise words of the statute require a review of the current standards and that the pain and harm forced upon families and workers may not be considered. The number of breadwinners losing their jobs may not be tallied. The number of struggling folks without transportation solutions to good paying jobs may not be tabulated.
• It is ironic to hear their arguments. They are happy to find a friend in Justice Scalia and his plain meaning of the statute approach, but how quickly they forget when nowhere in the Clean Air Act can they find the words “carbon dioxide.”
• Or how quickly they walk away from the plain meaning of statutes when we consider say “navigable waters of the United States” to limit wetlands jurisdiction. “Oh no, those words don’t mean what they say” we will hear in a few weeks.
• No complaints either when the Superfund law, intended to regulate and clean up industrial toxic waste, is newly applied to farms and livestock operations - a use never intended by Congress.
• Luckily, as we will see next week, there is plenty of health analysis to conclude, as EPA did, that the current annual soot standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter is more than enough to provide an adequate margin of safety requisite to protect the public health.
• I urge EPA to head the advice of the states and “proceed with extreme caution as you consider whether to change the particulate matter standard.”
• In the interim, I am glad we are exercising our appropriate oversight function. We have a duty to inform ourselves of what’s at stake, who will bear the burden, who will be harmed and who will lose. As we will see from the witnesses today, many will be unfairly captured and many will unnecessarily be harmed by this proposal or suggestions to go even further.
• Thank you.