[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 140 (Thursday, October 9, 1997)]
[Pages S10813-S10814]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS


                      PROTECTING THIS NATION'S AIR

 Mr. ABRAHAM. Mr. President, late last month, the Subcommittee 
on Manufacturing and Competitiveness held a hearing to examine the 
impact of EPA's new air quality standards on American manufacturing, 
especially small manufacturers.
  On July 18 of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency 
announced new air quality standards that call for more severe 
restrictions on ground-level ozone and microscopic dust particles 
called particulate matter. These new standards are the most far-
reaching--and potentially the most costly--regulatory mandates 
implemented in U.S. history.
  Despite the administration's having promulgated these regulations, I 
believe a number of questions remain unanswered. To begin with, are 
these standards necessary? It seems clear that the scientific community 
is not of one mind on the EPA's new standards. Indeed, from the reading 
I have done it seems clear that a substantial amount of scientific 
evidence exists to the effect that the new rules will have negligible 
positive impact whatsoever on the public health. Not even the EPA's own 
Science Advisory Committee could conclude that public health would be 
substantially improved by adopting new standards more stringent than 
those already in effect. Moreover, Kay Jones, President Jimmy Carter's 
top air quality adviser, says there are serious flaws in the studies 
cited by the EPA to justify these new regulatory mandates.
  Nevertheless, the EPA wants Americans to incur substantial costs in 
implementing their new standards. By the EPA's own estimate, 
implementing the new standards will cost Americans almost $50 billion. 
And that estimate is very low if we are to believe some of the 
estimates made by other organizations. The highly regarded Reason 
Foundation, as an example, has determined that the costs of the new 
clean air rules should be conservatively pegged at $122 billion. If 
this figure is correct, then the economic cost of EPA's new regulations 
will wipe out the entire economic benefit of the tax relief that we 
just enacted for America. In my judgment, this would not bode well for 
our Nation's financial health, or for the economic well-being of our 
working families.
  We must also keep in mind that there are alternative means by which 
we can save lives. Taking the EPA's own estimates, the new standards 
will save the equivalent of 1,100 lives, at a cost of $2,400,000 per 
life year saved. Meanwhile, universal influenza vaccination would save 
7,100,000 equivalent lives at a cost of only $140 per life year saved. 
And mammography for women over 50, an issue which many Members of this 
Senate have been personally involved with, would save 1,500,000 
equivalent lives at a cost of $810 per life year saved. This is 
according to an article in the journal ``Risk Analysis'' by a group of 
researchers led by Dr. Tengs. These discrepancies in lives saved and 
programs' bang for the buck if you will, should not be ignored.
  Furthermore, if the Reason Foundation cost estimate is correct, 
70,000 Michiganites could lose their jobs under these new regulations. 
Many of those jobs--well-paying, blue-collar jobs--would be in my 
State's crucial manufacturing sector. That is one reason the president 
of Flint's United Auto Workers Local 599, Arthur McGee, testified in 
opposition to the new standards. UAW Local 599 notes that workers at 
the Buick complex in that city already are fighting for their jobs.
  In a full page advertisement taken out in the Wall Street Journal, 
Local 599 proclaims that by working carefully, quickly, and 
efficiently, these workers have earned for themselves and their 
families a ``healthy way of life for their families and their 
community.'' Good pay, good health care benefits, and safe 
neighborhoods, all of which promote healthy children, would be lost if 
the new EPA standards forced plant closings in Flint. After evaluating 
the new standards and their potential impact, UAW Local 599 has 
concluded, ``Poverty is more dangerous to our children than the current 
low levels of air pollution.''
  However, perhaps most surprising, some of the latest studies actually 
show that many more jobs would be lost in the service than in the 
manufacturing sector. Dry cleaning establishments, hair salons, and 
other small businesses will not be able to absorb the increased costs 
imposed by these regulations. According to Decision Focus, leading 
environmental policy consultants, compliance with the new ozone and 
particulate levels will cost 200,000 jobs nationwide, with the bulk of 
the loss occurring in small service and retail businesses. This kind of 
job loss would cause a particular problem for this Nation's larger 
urban areas.

[[Page S10814]]

  I worry when I hear Harry Alford, president of the National Black 
Chamber of Commerce, say that ``EPA's new rules will create such an air 
of economic uncertainty that they might well be the last straw for 
inner-city investments.'' In my view, Mr. Alford's warning should lead 
us to proceed very cautiously. It seems to me that the burden of proof 
is on the EPA to demonstrate conclusively that the costs to be borne, 
in particular by our job creating enterprises, can be borne without 
significant damage to those businesses and to our workers. It also 
seems to me that this burden, in the case of these regulations, is 
  The effects of the clean air standards, however, will not be limited 
to America's cities. There are a number of reports that the new 
regulations may bar farmers from plowing during the dry summer months 
for fear of stirring up dust, that is, particulate matter. The EPA has 
signaled farmers that they need not worry about complying with the 
rules, but it is the States, not EPA, that will have the burden of 
controlling emissions and targeting their sources. And this begs a 
separate question: Who will bear the costs if the EPA, in order to 
quell likely opposition, keeps telling various groups that they needn't 
worry about complying with the new rules?
  Many within the agriculture community fear that much of these likely 
costs--increased energy and fuel expenses--will be borne by them. As 
one witness, a member of the Kansas Farm Bureau, testified, many U.S. 
commodity prices are tied to world markets, so farmers will not be able 
to pass these costs on to consumers and could be forced to concede some 
crop production to foreign competitors.
  Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector fears that small businessowners 
will lack the resources to pay the cost of expensive pollution 
reduction equipment and will be unwilling or unable to comply with 
still more regulations. Most experts acknowledge that heavy industries 
will likely face significant additional regulatory controls to reduce 
NOx and other particulates. Small business owners, however, 
maintain they will shoulder a similarly heavy load because they 
typically lack the technical expertise and the financial and human 
resources to consistently engage with State officials to shape the 
outcome of emissions control plans. During the hearing, two different 
small businessowners testified that the new standards could result in a 
dramatic reduction in business expansion--or stop it altogether--in 
many U.S. cities. These owners admitted that they were unlikely to go 
out of business as a result of the NAAQS, but they noted that their 
increased costs could be reflected in reduced hiring and the reduction, 
or elimination, of some employee benefits.
  We are all concerned with making our country a more healthy place for 
our children and grandchildren to live. The key is striking a 
responsible balance. Not only should our children have clean air, clean 
water, and safe food in their future, they must also have good jobs, 
high wages, and good benefits, and a robust economy waiting for them 
when they grow up, enter the work force, and start their own families.
  The new air quality standards have been the subject of intense 
scrutiny and often acrimonious debate over the course of this year. In 
the face of such uncertainty, I believe it is incumbent upon the 
administration to consider again its plans for enacting these 
regulations. The current implementation process seeks to give the 
Nation ample time to adjust to the new standards. I applaud the 
President for this approach: It is a step in the right direction. 
However, I believe EPA's implementation plan will last only as long as 
the first lawsuit and result in the immediate enforcement of the new 
  If, as the President says, these new standards are not intended to 
harm this Nation's economy then I urge the President to support the 
legislation offered in both the House and the Senate to codify a 5-year 
delay of the regulations. This postponement will allow for continued 
research into the cause and effects of pollution and allow the 1990 
amendments to the Clean Air Act to continue to clean the air and make 
the effects of any future new standards less drastic. I hope that other 
Members will join in urging the administration to consider this 
  These are my concerns. I am worried about my children's health and 
want to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect it. But I 
am also concerned whether the new rules represent the best means by 
which we can protect that health.