Thank you Chairman Gekas for the opportunity to address the Subcommittee on EPA's new air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate matter. I welcome your review of the procedural questions associated with the adoption by the EPA of the new rules. My remarks will focus on the problems with the new standards which led me to introduce H.R. 1984, bipartisan legislation designed to place a four-year moratorium on the creation of the new standards. H.R. 1984 sends a message to the EPA that we in Congress believe that EPA ought to complete the necessary scientific research before it finalizes regulations, especially regulations that will have billions of dollars of effect on the economy.
There are serious scientific uncertainties regarding the potential health benefits associated with the regulations. In fact, EPA's own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) has questioned the health benefits, the technical basis and the scientific justification for the regulations. Hearings in six House Committees have shown that the scientific basis for the proposed regulations is weak and cannot begin to justify standards that will represent the most costly set of environmental regulations ever established by the federal government.
Unfortunately, in this case EPA has taken a situation where the scientific record is ambiguous, where the best scientists agree that we ought to do more research and acted as if there were not a doubt in the world.
I believe that we should heed the findings of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, the independent science review board that spent months pouring over the scientific record and weeks debating the conclusions to be drawn from it.
On ozone, the panel did urge EPA to change from a one-hour to an eight-hour standard. But the panel provided no definitive conclusion on the stringency of a new eight-hour standard. Rather it stated that there was no "bright line" that distinguished any of the levels under consideration. Because the differences between the options were small and overlapping, CASAC called the final decision a "policy call" rather than a scientific judgment. It is not disputed that EPA could have selected an eight-hour standard of the same stringency as the existing standard and satisfied the recommendations of CASAC on ozone.
On particulate matter, the panel did vote to focus the standard on fine particles (less than 2.5 microns) but provided no recommendation on any of the particulars such as the stringency, averaging time, or form of any new standard. Individual views were literally all over the map on these key variables. Because of this lack of specificity, EPA could have set a fine particle standard that was equivalent to -- or even less stringent than -- the existing PM-10 standard and still been consistent with the sole recommendation of CASAC.
In short, the CASAC scientists found too little certainty for specific conclusions. Administrator Browner stepped in and made the calls the scientists would not. Unfortunately, that means that the new standards do not reflect the inescapable result of the available science, but only the best guess of a non-scientist.
The good news is that there is no reason to choose between progress on clean air and standards based on good, sound, accepted science. For ozone, we will be better off implementing the existing Clean Air Act ozone fighting provisions over the next five years. On particulate matter, we can complete much of the research that CASAC has called for and still meet the implementation schedule the Administrator has announced. Under the Klink-Upton-Boucher bill, EPA would also be required to start the additional monitoring necessary to implement any new standard that emerges from the next review. Since EPA has publicly stated that it will do nothing more than monitoring and the research before the next review, H.R. 1984 will not slow down EPA's implementation of any new particulate matter standard by a single day.
Again, I thank the Chairman for the opportunity to appear before the
Subcommittee and thank him again for holding this important hearing.