For the past nine months, I have attended these hearings expecting to hear well done presentations by the EPA and other advocates of these new air standards to better understand the reasons why we need these costly regulations even as the air we breath becomes cleaner with each passing year. I have been deeply disappointed.
It seemed to me that when the Administer of the EPA and other Administration officials came before this committee, there was not a dialogue or thorough scientific presentation but what we heard was akin to a promotion. Clearly, the decision to impose these new standards was made in spite of a lack of scientific data. On February 5th for example, the Subcommittee on Clean Air held a hearing on the Science issues surrounding the proposed standards. During that hearing I questioned Dr. Schwartz, a member of the EPA's own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), about the "Birmingham study" Dr. Schwartz conducted showing increased mortality on high particulate matter days. A subsequent, peer-reviewed study using the exact same data as the "Schwartz study" showed that when humidity was factored into the model no "statistically significant" effect could be observed. Yet the EPA admits to relying on this study in their decision to impose the new standards.
When the EPA announced the proposed standards just before Thanksgiving in 1996, the agency stated 40,000 lives would be saved by the implementation of the proposed standard for particulate matter. On February 12, the EPA administrator appeared before the full Senate Committee on Environment and testified that 20,000 premature deaths would be prevented by the implementation of the new particulate matter standard. In April, after an outside analyst discovered an error in the EPA's estimates, the agency again lowered its estimate to 15,000 premature deaths. In May, the same analyst who first discovered the error in the EPA's estimates, found additional errors which brought estimates of premature deaths to under one thousand.
In the seven hearings the Environment and Public Works Committee held on this issue, not a single witness has said we have a complete understanding of the ozone and particulate matter and the adverse health effects these pollutants might cause. Clearly, the weight of the evidence presented before this committee indicates that the benefits to public health are uncertain and the costs have been underestimated. The Tennessee Valley Authority, for example, estimates the new standards for ozone and particulate matter will cause the TVA to raise power rates by 11 percent, costing between 40,000 and 50,000 jobs for seven state region in order to comply with the new standards. The TVA estimates that the total annual costs to comply with the new standards is $3 billion. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the total costs of implementing the new standards nationwide will cost between $6 and $9 billion. At three billion dollars, the emissions control measures which will be required of the Tennessee Valley Authority alone, account for nearly half the EPA's total national estimate. Clearly, the national cost estimates the EPA suggests are greatly underestimated. Huge costs to comply with these standards will be passed on to every citizen and be added to the cost of every product this country produces — making American products harder to export, which even the Administration admits, will have a detrimental effect on our balance of trade.
I support efforts to improve our environment and protect public health. The air Americans breath is becoming cleaner every year as the effects of the Clean Air Act take hold. We should continue this trend, but must not act hastily and without a thorough knowledge of the problem we are attempting to address. To do so invites the possibility of unintended adverse health effects resulting from an undermined economy and needless poverty.
I support Senator Inhofe's bill which would create a program to further study ozone and particulate matter before the new standards are implemented. This is a prudent measure which will make sure our efforts to improve public health will be properly targeted and effective.