MARCH 19, 1997

I want to welcome Acting Administrator Garvey and EPA Assistant Administrator Gardiner, and our other witnesses today to discuss ISTEA's environmental and planning programs.

The particular focus this morning will be on the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program - known as CMAQ.

First established in ISTEA, CMAQ had sound goals of promoting more transportation choices for consumers. It properly gave states and local governments the flexibility to fund their highest transportation needs.

To those who believe that legislation I have introduced -- STEP-21 -- would terminate the CMAQ program, let me set the record straight.

STEP-21 continues the flexibility for state and local governments to continue to select their own transportation choices, including transit, commuter rail and highways.

Transportation projects in non-attainment will continue to recognize their impacts on air quality because of the conformity requirements of the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act guides the types of projects selected in non-attainment areas and ensures that transportation plans work together with a state's air quality plans.

The result will be that the states will continue to invest in transit alternatives, HOV lanes, and other opportunities to reduce automobile trips and improve air quality.

STEP-21 does not change this important relationship.

As important, STEP-21 continues the statewide and metropolitan planning requirements. It preserves the metropolitan planning organization structure and the allocation of funds so that local governments in urban areas can determine their own transportation priorities. I welcome the views of our witnesses today and look forward to a thoughtful discussion of these important issues.