WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, announced the re-introduction of the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement bill at today’s EPW Subcommittee hearing, "Review of EPA’s Proposed Revision to the Ozone NAAQS." The Subcommittee hearing today focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule to tighten the ozone standard. Senator Inhofe stated at the hearing today that he believes that “the EPA’s proposed ozone standard is flawed and that if enacted, would have enormous consequences for our nation, with the disadvantaged among the hardest hit.” Senator Inhofe believes the EPA should instead focus its attention on getting areas with truly dirty air into compliance with existing law. Previously introduced last year, Senator Inhofe’s bill amends 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.
“My bill will clean up the most polluted areas of the country, saving thousands of lives and bringing tens of billions of dollars in public health benefits,” Senator Inhofe said. “Before we begin imposing more stringent new regulations, as currently is being discussed in Washington DC, the federal government should start enforcing existing air quality standards. It is unconscionable to allow the dirtiest areas of the country to escape the requirement to comply with the nation’s clean air health standards and sacrifice the lives of their citizens. Simply enforcing existing law will produce a host of environmental benefits, including improved air quality for the dirtiest areas of the country.
“EPA’s new proposal to tighten the ozone standard, if implemented, will impose significant costs on counties and states across the country for too little environmental benefit. Air pollution levels in the United States are at an all-time low, but this proposal would artificially increase the number of counties in nonattainment from 104 counties to 533 counties. In fact, more than 80 percent of monitored areas would be in violation. For example, in my home state of Oklahoma, there is not a single county in non-attainment for ozone today. But under EPA’s proposal, if set at .070 parts per million, a dozen Oklahoma counties will have monitors in non-attainment and many more surrounding counties will be designated as non-designated as well. In short, most of my state would be forced to comply with this new standard. These counties, like every county in America that would now be in non-attainment, could face stiff federal penalties, lose highway dollars, and become unattractive places to locate new businesses.
“As the Ranking Member and former Chairman of the EPW Committee, I have spent the last four years committed to working to improve our nation’s air quality. The committee has held numerous clean air hearings and it is my hope that this common-sense legislation will provide yet another victory for our nation’s environment. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to pass my bill this year.”
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