Senator James M. Inhofe, Chairman
Subcommittee on Clean Air, Wetlands, Private Property, and Nuclear Safety
Oversight Hearing Regarding the Proposed Ozone and Particulate Matter Revised Standards
April 24, 1997

The hearing will now come to order.

Today's hearing is the third subcommittee hearing on the proposed new ozone and particulate matter standards and the fourth for the Committee. The first hearing focused on the scientific issues. At the second hearing, a full Committee hearing, we received testimony from Administrator Browner. The third hearing was a field hearing in Oklahoma City where we received testimony from State and local government officials.

Today we turn to risk and implementation issues. This will be followed by a hearing this Tuesday which will focus on the impacts of the proposals.

I am troubled by the risk issues surrounding these regulations. The risk analysis is necessarily based on the understanding of the science issues. But we learned in our science hearing that there is great uncertainty on the scientific side. When we add that to the uncertainties in the risk assessments, we end up with very dubious results.

Since our last hearings, we have learned that the EPA greatly over estimated the impacts for both ozone and PM, and they have had to publicly change their figures. In addition, we have learned that they selectively applied some study results while ignoring others in their calculations. For example, the majority of the health benefits for ozone are based on one PM study by a Dr. Moogarkar, even though the Agency ignored the PM results of that study because it contradicted their position on PM.

What I find most troubling is that first the science is unclear and incomplete and that these uncertainties are then added to the uncertainties of risk calculations which must result in great uncertainty. But the EPA has postured these results as being the concrete facts, even though other Federal agencies have raised as many questions about these proposals as outside interest groups. Public policy decisions must be open and above board. Uncertainty in science plus uncertainty in risk does not equal fact.

What I hope to accomplish in the first panel today is a better understanding of the risk issues. I am pleased that we have some divergent viewpoints on the panel. I hope they can shed some light on the risk questions.

Our second panel today will discuss the implementation issues. This is an area that we have so far ignored and is not receiving the attention it deserves in the public debate. While implementation issues will become more important as the EPA precedes, they do need to be discussed before the proposals go final. Because of that, we have invited several members of the EPA's advisory group for implementation issues to appear here today.

I am concerned that the planned implementation for these proposals is not reflected in the projected impacts. The EPA is planning to change how nonattainment areas are defined. The proposals have created two new concepts, Areas of Violation and Areas of Influence.

[show chart]

This chart, represents what the EPA is considering for implementation areas. If members have not seen this, I suggest you look closely. In addition to requiring control measures in nonattainment areas, the EPA plans on requiring additional measures in these Areas of Influence. Most people have been under the wrong assumption that these proposals would only effect the nonattainment areas identified by the EPA. But as you can see on this map, from only three nonattainment areas, the majority of five States would be affected. While this is only a straw man map, and as it says on the top, conceptual only; the concept concerns me. The boundaries themselves could end up being larger or smaller, the fact that it's being considered needs to be addressed.

The people who live in these areas, as well as the mayors, governors, and even Senators have had no idea that these regulations would apply to them. The importance of this cannot be under-estimated. These people and communities lost the opportunity to comment during the public comment period because their counties were not identified by the EPA as nonattainment areas. These proposals have been portrayed as only affecting certain areas when in fact they will impact the entire nation.

I hope this issue, as well as other implementation issues will come out during our second panel. We have two good panels of witnesses today and I look forward to your testimony.