House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Holds Third Clean Air Act Forum
Recently, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Energy and Power held a third Clean Air Act Forum. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the subcommittee, led the third forum, which continued discussion on “State, Local and Federal Cooperation in the Clean Air Act.” The forum allows members of Congress to hear differing perspectives from experts about experiences in implementing the Clean Air Act. Some of the issues important to independent repairers include state implementation plans (SIP) submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, vehicle emissions programs, and emissions and equipment requirements for automakers.
Participants included David L. Klemp, air director of the Montana Department of Environment Quality; Seyed Sadredin, executive director and air pollution control officer, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; Robert J. Martineau Jr., commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Arturo J. Blanco, bureau chief of pollution control and prevention, Houston Department of Health and Human Services; Martha Rudolph, director of environmental programs, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Michael Krancer, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and Stephen Roe Lewis, lieutenant governor of the Gila River Indian Community.
All participants were posed with the same six questions:
In response to question four, “Does the CAA support a reasonable and effective mechanism for federal, state, tribal and local cooperation through state implementation plans? How could the mechanism be improved?” Klemp made the following comments:
“The state of Montana would find it much easier to propose innovative clean air programs and manage our air quality responsibilities if the EPA would appropriately act upon a state’s SIP submittal. The EPA establishes NAAQS and emission limits applicable nationwide. That’s fine. Let states figure out the best ways to attain and maintain those standards.
“We also believe the EPA could take a default position of SIP approval rather than assuming disapproval until the state meets some nearly unachievable burden of proof. As a partner in implementing the CAA, the state of Montana should not have to file suit against the EPA to prompt action on a SIP submittal. The state of Montana recognizes our responsibility to provide an appropriate analysis in support of our submittals. We are committed to doing our part and would welcome opportunities to work much closer with the EPA to define the extent of any requested analysis or demonstration.”
In response to question one, “In your agency’s experience implementing the Clean Air Act (CAA), what is working well? What is not working well?,” Sadredin made comments regarding vehicle emissions:
“CAA section 182(d)(1)(A) requires such areas to develop enforceable transportation control measures (TCMs) and transportation strategies ‘to offset any growth in emissions from growth in vehicle miles traveled … and to attain reduction in motor vehicle emissions as necessary.’ An area’s vehicles miles traveled (VMT) may increase due to increases in population (i.e., more drivers), people driving further (i.e., sprawl), or increases in pass-through traffic (i.e., good movement).
Historically, the EPA’s section 182(d)(1)(A) approach has allowed the use of vehicle turnover, tailpipe control standards, and the use of alternative fuels to offset the expected increase in VMT. This has allowed for the actual emissions reductions occurring from motor vehicles to be considered in meeting the applicable requirements. A recent Ninth Circuit court decision, however, has called the EPA’s current approach for demonstrating the offsetting of vehicle mile-related emissions growth into question, and has forced the EPA to re-evaluate its approach. Any change in approach that would require regions to offset vehicle growth regardless of population growth, and without recognition of emission reduction measures such as vehicle turnover and tailpipe control standards, would have a significant impact on the many regions’ ability to develop an approvable attainment strategy, and, under a strict interpretation, would actually render attainment impossible. Many TCMs and transportation strategies have already been implemented in nonattainment areas, and remaining opportunities are scarce and extremely expensive to implement, with relatively small amounts of emissions reductions available. A less inclusive section 182(d)(1)(A) approach would effectively penalize nonattainment areas for having population growth, and would not give credit to the significant emissions reductions being achieved from motor vehicles. To illustrate this issue, such an interpretation applied to the District’s 1997 8-hour ozone standard attainment plan would require the elimination of 5.1 million vehicles, where the vehicle population of the Valley is projected to be 2.6 million vehicles in 2023.”
Krancer, in response to question one, “In your agency’s experience implementing the Clean Air Act (CAA), what is working well? What is not working well?” made the following remarks:
“Another success has been major portions of Title II of the Act, which directs EPA to set standards for new motor vehicles and equipment as well as fuels. Mobile sources continue to be a significant contributor to pollutants such as fine particulates and ozone. Some of the most significant and cost-effective emission reductions are clearly due to these programs. The law contains appropriate safeguards for affected industries and some needed flexibility for states.
“Even more reduction from mobiles sources will be necessary to attain future NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards). However, there are challenges related to the provisions of the Act relating to boutique fuels, alternate new vehicle requirements, greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements and other issues. National consistency may be a more effective means to achieve the necessary reductions.”
To learn more about clean air regulation and its impact on independent automotive repairers, please visit ASA’s legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.
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