U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the responses from member states of the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA) regarding the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) process, and whether there is sufficient transparency, incorporated into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) forthcoming rulemaking on national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone.
In a May 14, 2014, letter, Sens. Vitter, along with Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), asked AAPCA member states to comment on CASAC's role in EPA's forthcoming rulemaking on the ozone NAAQS.
Below are individual responses from AAPCA member states voicing concerns with the CASAC process and its review of EPA's science and policy assessments:
- "Yes, Section 109(d)(2)(C) of the Clean Air Act, leads to no other conclusion except that CASAC is to advise EPA on the costs of implementation. The attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS is where the true cost comes in as there is no cost in setting the standard."
- "Louisiana agrees that having CASAC provide advice to the Administrator in this regard would greatly assist the state in developing implementation plans to continue to meet the current standard, as well as, a new more stringent standard."
- "The first question a company asks when looking at new locations is whether or not the area is in nonattainment for the NAAQS. When the answer is yes, the location is quickly scratched off the list and the company moves on to the next."
- "Industries in these areas would have to install costly controls and find emission reduction credits to proceed with new projects and modifications. Some industries may elect to shut down their facilities instead of install costly controls or will move outside of the United States where there are little or no air quality control requirements. Based on this, the potential is great that Louisiana will see a decline in facilities trying to locate in the state, which would also lead to a lack of job opportunities."
- "The CASAC process is not open and does not sufficiently consider all viewpoints."
- "The CASAC and EPA have not considered the practical problems involved in lowering ambient concentrations of ozone in some areas beyond regional background levels...Rural counties could be faced with a mandate from EPA to change something that the local communities simply have no control over..."
- "The CASAC maintains that they are only to consider the health effects, not the implementation issues, when setting the standard. However, the increased costs for utilities, fuel, food, and consumer goods that will accompany the implementation of a new, lower standard, will likely reduce the standard of living for many families in Mississippi."
- "It is not clear from the documentation to date that especially CASAC has considered the very real and practical problems associated with setting a standard beyond regional background levels."
- "Yes, and yes. [Clean Air Act] Section 109(d)(2)(C) indicates that this advice is considered equally with the other requirements of CASAC." In response to the question "Is CASAC required by the Clean Air Act to report on economic impacts when it advises the Administrator on implementing as opposed to setting a new standard?" In response to the question "Do you agree that having CASAC provide such advice to the Administrator in this regard would assist you and your states in developing implementation plans to meet a new standard?"
- "In reviewing the studies cited by EPA in the Policy Assessment, associations between ozone and selected endpoints generally became weaker and not significant at lower ozone levels. EPA did not incorporate these findings in its risk assessment."
- "TCEQ agrees that CAA Section 109(d)(2) does require CASAC to advise the Administration on the economic impacts from both the setting and implementation of a new standard."
- "The strategies that might be implemented to bring a nonattainment area into and maintain attainment with the NAAQS can have adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy impacts."
- "Based on the most recent air monitoring data available, if the EPA lowers the ozone NAAQS to 60ppb Texas could have as many as 15 areas designed nonattainment...Industry and small businesses would incur increasing costs associated with emissions controls and permitting requirements in nonattainment areas..."
- "The increased costs and lengthier review time could be a disincentive for facilities to expand or locate in Texas and in some circumstances may be cost prohibitive."
CASAC is scheduled to hold a conference call next Wednesday, June 4th to discuss finalize its recommendations to the Administrator for the lowering of the ozone NAAQS.
Previously, Sen. Vitter requested EPA provide to CASAC the results of a threshold model analysis and the correction of certain data prior to the May 28 meeting.