Carper and Jeffords Demand Fair and Balanced Analysis from EPA on Clean Air Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., and Tom Carper, D – Del., today wrote EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt asking for a fair and balanced analysis of clean air legislation as promised by the agency.

Jeffords and Carper were promised an analysis of their multi-pollutant bills at the time of the confirmation vote of Governor Leavitt. Upon review of the information provided by EPA on October 28, 2003, the Senators found the analysis inadequate and lacking in many respects. Both senators have requested detailed technical assistance on pending clean air proposals. Previous administrations have traditionally provided such support.

Jeffords is the sponsor of the Clean Power Act and Carper is the sponsor of the Clean Air Planning Act. Both bills require electric power plants to make mandatory reductions in four major air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide.

“All we are asking for is basic analysis of our legislation that only the EPA can and should provide. We want to be able to compare apples to apples if the President’s Clear Skies legislation is ever considered by Congress. I am not sure why the administration is so afraid to do objective analysis of various alternatives to clear skies so we and the public can look at the true costs and benefits of each option,” said Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Congress and this administration share the responsibility of providing clean air, and therefore we must work together to understand the impacts of these proposals,” said Senator Carper. “Governor Leavitt realizes how important this debate is, and I fully expect he will cooperate with us on this request.” Attached is a copy of the letter sent to Administrator Leavitt and the analysis provided to the Senators on their legislation. November 5, 2003 The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt Administrator Environmental Protection Agency Washington, DC 20460 Dear Governor Leavitt: Thank you for your Agencyâ??s October 28, 2003, response to our requests for analyses of S.366, The Clean Power Act, and S.843, The Clean Air Planning Act. We particularly appreciate that EPA finally has made some effort to estimate the benefits of these proposals, as well as their costs. Unfortunately, after a very long wait, during which time EPA completed comprehensive and detailed analyses of the costs and benefits of S.485, the Clear Skies Act, we are disappointed by the comparatively simplified and incomplete analyses of S.366 and S.843 that the Agency has provided. As you may know, with respect to S.485, the Agency has failed thus far to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Actâ??s section 102(C). That section requires the Administration to include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement on the environmental impact of the proposed action, any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented, and the alternatives to the proposed action, among other items. This failure leaves Congress at a disadvantage and with incomplete information as we consider action on multi-pollutant legislation. Therefore, we believe it is more than reasonable for the Agency to fulfill our requests for timely technical assistance and comprehensive analyses of the benefits of the alternatives that we have presented, which have substantial tri-partisan support. The analyses that the Agency has most recently presented to us do not allow for a fair comparison of the costs and benefits of the three major legislative proposals. Our concerns with the analyses include: (1) Different models were used to estimate the costs associated with the bills. No evidence of the comparability of the modelsâ?? results was offered, despite the fact that the models are known to incorporate some very different assumptions. (2) Different methods were used to estimate the benefits associated with the bills, and the soundness and comprehensiveness of the â??simplified approachesâ?? used for S.366 and S.843 were not sufficiently demonstrated. (3) In part as a consequence of (1) and (2), the benefits analyses for S.366 and S.843 included only a subset of the information given about S.485. For example, no information about the locations of additional PM-2.5 attainment counties or the changes in freshwater acidification associated with S.366 and S.843 was provided. In addition, no information about the benefits of S.366 in 2020 was provided. (4) Important features of S.366 were not taken into account in your cost estimates. These estimates were produced in 2001, and The Clean Power Act has evolved since then to include an auctioned allowance system that recycles revenue back to impacted sectors. For purposes of comparing current proposals, analyses of costs and benefits need to be carried out on those proposals, rather than on outdated versions. (5) Analysis of CO2 provisions of S.366 and S.843 was not fully integrated with the analysis of the NOx, SO2, and mercury provisions, but rather was done as a separate exercise. Such a disconnected analysis does not properly represent the different decisions that would result from complying with a three-emission bill versus a four-emission bill that includes CO2. Facilities asked to comply with a four-emission requirement will make operation and planning decisions based on all of the regulated emissions, and thus analysis of the legislative proposals should reflect that fact. While we look forward to further meetings with your technical staff in order to better understand some of the methodologies used in their analysis, we fully expect that a fair comparison of the costs and benefits of this legislation will only be possible with an analysis that is consistent across all three bills. Please find below an outline of a proposal for such an analysis. This proposal takes into account both the needs of decision-makers in Congress and the finite time and resources of your staff. We look forward to discussing this proposal with you in the near future. Please contact us or our staff as soon as possible to arrange a meeting time. Sincerely, James M. Jeffords Ranking Member Committee on Environment and Public Works Thomas Carper Ranking Memeber Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change and Nuclear Safety