WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), issued the following statement on a memo signed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt titled, “Back-to-Basics Process for Reviewing National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”
“I applaud the Trump administration’s efforts to improve implementation of the Clean Air Act,” said Barrasso. “These necessary reforms will give certainty to states and businesses. The reforms will also make sure the Environmental Protection Agency considers all relevant data and information when it makes decisions. That is just good government.”
The memo presents key planned reforms to EPA’s implementation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program. These common-sense steps include EPA giving states timely guidance when a new standard is finalized. The memo also commits EPA to ask for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) advice on “any adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy effects which may result from various strategies for attainment and maintenance” of the NAAQS. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to ask for CASAC’s advice but the agency has failed to do so in the past.
On April 10, 2018, the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on “Cooperative Federalism Under the Clean Air Act: State Perspectives.” At the hearing, environmental regulators highlighted many of the issues addressed in President Trump’s memo, such as the need for EPA to provide timely guidance and consider background pollution.
Nancy Vehr, Air Quality Division Administrator at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, testified how better state and federal coordination can help achieve positive environmental outcomes. “When cooperative federalism works, EPA communicates early and often with their state counterparts, and timely acts. And, states do the same – tailoring plans to meet objectives given the unique characteristics and challenges facing the state and its air quality,” said Vehr.
On July 27, 2017, Senator Barrasso sent a letter to Pruitt regarding needed reforms to CASAC. Senator Capito, chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, and Senator Mike Rounds, chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, joined the letter. In the letter, the senators called on Pruitt to “revisit past CASAC practices to make them compliant with the statute.” CASAC is supposed to provide independent counsel to the EPA Administrator on issues specifically listed in the Clean Air Act related to the NAAQS.