Ozone and Particulate Matter Research Act of 1997
Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air
Wednesday October 22, 1997

Mr. Chairman, With all due respect to you and Senator Breaux, I am dismayed to see that the Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Clean Air would give serious consideration to a bill that will jeopardize clean air and the public health.

S. 1084, the Ozone and Particulate Matter Research Act would block the EPA from protecting the public health by blocking the new ozone and particulate Clean Air standards which have been in effect since September 1997.

This bill turns the clock back and reinstates the old less protective standardS. S. 1084 would deny the American public the health protections they deserve -- violating the most fundamental requirement of the Clean Air Act which mandates that the EPA protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.

The EPA estimates that this bill would result in at least 60,000 premature deaths, 300,000 additional cases of chronic bronchitis, 1.5 million asthma attacks and 12.5 million work days lost.

Mr. Chairman, the very same arguments that we hear today against the new clean air standards were heard before the Clean Air Act was approved in 1970 -- an Act signed into law by then President Nixon.

When the EPA announced the new ozone and particulate matter clean air standards in July of this year, it did so after an exhaustive scientific review which indicated that current standards do not adequately protect public health.

Under S. 1084, the EPA could not revise the ozone and particulate matter standards for at least 4 years until further research and review by a new National Academy of Sciences panel and a new Interagency Committee on Particulate Matter -- a virtual duplication of the EPA effort which resulted in the new standard.

Mr. Chairman, when the EPA issued the new ozone and particulate matter standards earlier this year, it did so after an exhaustive scientific and public review procesS. The EPA analyzed thousands of peer reviewed studies and presented its recommendations to an independent scientific advisory body, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).

CASAC concluded that EPA's standards for ozone and particulate matter needed to be strengthened.

I believe that as Senators, we have no greater duty and responsibility than to protect the health and safety of the American people.

Blocking the new standards will have significant adverse impacts on the health of Americans -- especially our children and our elderly.

For example, according to the EPA, the current annual average concentrations of fine particulate matter in Southeast Los Angeles County may be responsible for up to 3,000 deaths annually, and more than 52,000 incidences of respiratory symptoms including 1,000 hospital admissionS.

Young children constitute the largest group at high risk from exposure to air pollutantS. They breath 50% more air by body weight than the average adult. In California alone there are over six million children under the age of fourteen and approximately ninety percent of them live in areas that fail to meet state and federal standardS.

How are our children being affected? Studies show health effects ranging from 20 to 60 percent losses of lung capacity Despite this, representatives of industry claim that a thirty percent loss of lung capacity is not really a health effect because it is only a temporary reversible loss in lung function.

Tell that to a mother whose asthmatic child has to stay home or visit the hospital emergency room on a regular basiS. Tell that to a mother whose teenage son suffers from continuous coughing, throat irritations, chest pain and shortness of breath.

And what about the potential of causing permanent damage? We have studies of laboratory animals which indicate that long term exposure to ozone causes permanent damage to the lungS.

The Clean Air Act is one of our most successful environmental lawS. We must work together to ensure that we protect the progress we have made and that we do not roll back the clock.