WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today commented on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) revision of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone to .075 ppm (parts per million).
“Today’s announcement by EPA will have a severe economic impact on Oklahoma and the nation for too little environmental gain” Senator Inhofe said. “Despite the fact that air pollution levels across the United States are at an all time low and our nation’s air quality continues to improve, EPA decided to further tighten the standard. The consequence of the Rule means that hundreds of counties across the country – which have worked long and hard to come into compliance with the current standard – will once again face potential stiff federal penalties, lose highway dollars, and become unattractive places to locate new businesses.
“I am proud of the tremendous progress Oklahoma has made in cleaning up its air. Currently, not a single county in Oklahoma is in violation of the ozone standards. But this new standard will put a number of counties in the State into non-attainment. How can EPA, which considers states like Oklahoma to have clean air, suddenly declare the air unhealthy – even as their pollution levels continue to plummet? The nine counties in Oklahoma that will potentially be in violation of the new ozone standard include Canadian, Cherokee, Comanche, Creek, Kay, Mayes, Oklahoma, Ottawa and Tulsa counties.
“EPA’s timing could not be worse as various economic stimulus packages are proposed to counter fears of a weakening national economy. While EPA is precluded from considering costs in setting a standard, the sheer economic magnitude of this rule demands that only the highest quality science be used. This rule will impose a significant economic burden across the country, with the disadvantaged among the hardest hit. Implementing this new standard may help trigger layoffs nationwide, further impair U.S. economic competiveness and add to inflationary pressures. It is ironic that as concerns over our economy grow, EPA would shackle our nation’s counties and states with burdensome regulations based on weak science.
“A more reasonable approach to improving our nation’s air quality is to enforce existing ozone standards. That is why I introduced the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement bill in 2007. My bill focuses on getting areas with truly dirty air into compliance with existing law. The current 8-hour ozone NAAQS remains sufficient to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.”
Senator Inhofe re-introduced his Clean Air Attainment Enforcement bill in July 2007. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to strengthen penalties on major emission sources in the most polluted areas of the country that fail to meet clean air standards by the attainment deadlines under the current Clean Air Act. The bill is a narrow amendment that targets only those areas of the country that are out of compliance with multiple pollutants and will not come into compliance by their attainment deadlines. By specifically targeting the dirtiest areas, Senator Inhofe’s legislation ensures that the costs are reasonable in relation to the enormous health benefits.
Toxicologist Dr. Roger O. McClellan testified before the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety on July 11, 2007, stating: “In my professional judgment, the Administrator’s ‘proposed decision to revise the existing 8-hour O3 primary standard by lowering the level to within a range from 0.070 to 0.075 ppm’ is a policy judgment based on a flawed and inaccurate presentation of the science that should inform the policy decision.” (LINK)
In addition, Mayor George Grace of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, testified at the same EPW hearing, expressing concerns over the potential tightening of NAAQS ozone standards. “EPA’s own data show that between 1970 and 2006, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 54 percent,” Grace testified. “The National Conference of Black Mayors is committed to a clean environment and improved air quality for our communities. However, I’d like to stress that air quality is not the only thing that impacts the health of the people we represent. The health and welfare of our communities is also dependant on having good jobs, economic growth and the quality of life that goes with it,” Grace explained. (LINK)