WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) introduced the Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act, a bipartisan bill that will balance economic growth and environmental progress by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to focus on the most polluted areas that are in non-attainment with its current smog standard before it can implement a lower one.
Thune’s statement (as prepared for delivery) is below, and video is available here.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Boxer, for giving me the opportunity to speak in front of the committee this morning and I want to thank all the members for giving me the chance to talk about a bill that I’ve introduced called the CASE Act.
“It’s a bipartisan bill--introduced with Senator Manchin, that would prevent the staggering blow that a lower ozone standard would deliver to the economy at a time when many of our industries are seeking to turn the corner.
“After an area is deemed in non-attainment with the smog standard, communities face stiff federal penalties, increased business costs, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and lost highway dollars.
“When businesses are restrained by regulatory overreach, they can’t expand, jobs are put at risk, and innovation is stifled.
“Areas in non-attainment, or even those in marginal attainment, will face steep challenges in promoting economic development or attracting new businesses.
“In fact, it was for these exact reasons—‘regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty’—that the Obama administration withdrew a similar proposal in 2011.
“The cost of a lower smog standard has hardly lessened, and the hit this could have on manufacturing and other economic sectors nationwide would be unprecedented.
“The bipartisan CASE Act strikes a balance between economic growth and environmental progress by requiring the EPA to first focus on the most polluted areas that are in non-attainment with the current standard before it can implement a lower one.
“We have made great progress in cleaning up our air, and pollution levels are at an all-time low.
“However, 40 percent of Americans live in the 227 counties that have not yet met the 75 ppb standard that was set in 2008.
“The CASE Act would require 85 percent of these counties to achieve compliance with the existing 75 ppb standard before the EPA can impose a stricter regulation like the one proposed in November.
“The EPA needs to focus its efforts on areas already struggling with attainment, where smog remains a consistent problem.
“We should first tackle smog where it is the worst, in places like Los Angeles, not go after regions like the Great Plains, where there clearly is not a smog problem.
“The EPA contends that a lower standard will benefit public health, yet most of these benefits will come from the reductions of other criteria pollutants, like particulate matter, which are already subject to their own regulations.
“Moreover, the EPA would be well-served to acknowledge that it has not yet sufficiently implemented the existing 2008 standard and prioritize its efforts to combat smog in the most polluted areas.
“The CASE Act would also require the EPA to consider the cost and feasibility of a lower standard, which it currently does not consider.
“At a standard of 65 ppb, approximately 75 percent of the projected costs are attributed to unknown controls, or technologies and emission reduction strategies that have yet to be developed.
“Hinging a regulation of this magnitude on unknown controls could hamper economic growth with staggering costs for years to come.
“I want to thank you for the opportunity to come before this committee and introduce the CASE Act today.
“I hope you will agree that this bipartisan bill is a reasonable way forward to prioritize smog in the most polluted areas while not imposing undue costs on the American economy and workforce.
“Mr. Chairman I appreciate the opportunity to present this legislation and I encourage its consideration.