Bill Will Provide EPA Clarity Necessary to Guarantee Remaining Uncertainties Will Not Delay Actions That Affect Public Health WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), last evening introduced legislation, S. 1711, which will provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with legal certainty for the purpose of avoiding delays in mitigation actions related to Hurricane Katrina. Sens. Inhofe and Vitter released the following statements: Sen. Inhofe, Chairman of the EPW Committee “This legislation will ensure that EPA has absolute certainty in its authorities with regard to Katrina recovery efforts and protecting public health in the Gulf region. Those who seek to criticize this legislation under the guise of environmental concerns have it backwards as the use of the authority is specifically to protect public health and can only be used when it is ‘in the public interest.’ Lack of action in an emergency situation is what puts people’s health and the environment at risk.” Sen. Vitter, Committee member “As Louisianians begin to return to their homes and work on rebuilding their lives, this legislation will ensure that public health concerns are addressed promptly to protect Louisiana families and our environment.” S. 1711 requires EPA to make a determination of the need for a waiver, including consequences to public health and the environment. It gives the Administrator the authority to make a decision that is in the best interest of public health. Absent that authority, the impediments would exacerbate an already disastrous situation. The legislation provides EPA with the authority to waive or modify regulatory or statutory requirements the Administrator believes is necessary to carry out recovery efforts in the Gulf states in the most effective and timely fashion. The waiver expires after 120 days and requires EPA to consult with the State. The Administrator has the ability to extend the waiver an additional 18 months if deemed necessary.