INHOFE INTRODUCES CLEAN AIR LEGISLATION
Bill Aims to Improve Air Quality for Dirtiest Areas of the Country

CONTACT:

Marc Morano 202-224-5762 marc_morano@epw.senate.gov

Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797 matthew_dempsey@epw.senate.gov

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today introduced the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement Act, which amends the Clean Air Act to strengthen penalties on major emission sources in the most polluted areas of the country that fail to meet clean air standards by the attainment deadlines under the current Clean Air Act.

“My bill will clean up the most polluted areas of the country, saving thousands of lives and bringing tens of billions of dollars in public health benefits,” Senator Inhofe said. “It is unconscionable to allow the dirtiest areas of the country to escape the requirement to comply with the nation’s clean air health standards and sacrifice the lives of their citizens. Simply enforcing the law will produce a host of environmental benefits, including improved air quality for the dirtiest areas of the country.

“Many of the bills we have considered have been major overhauls that have been stifled by partisanship. This bill is a narrow amendment that targets only those areas of the country that are out of compliance with multiple pollutants and will not come into compliance by their attainment deadlines. By specifically targeting the dirtiest areas, we will ensure that the costs are reasonable in relation to the enormous health benefits.

“As Chairman of the EPW Committee, I have spent the last three and half years committed to working to improve our nation’s air quality. The committee has held numerous clean air hearings and it is my hope that this common sense legislation will provide yet another victory for our nation’s environment. I look forward to working with my Senate Colleagues to pass my bill this year.”

 

The Clean Air Attainment Enforcement Act:

This bill amends the Clean Air Act to strengthen penalties on sources in “covered areas” that fail to comply with the Act.

“Covered areas” are defined as areas that are designated BOTH nonattainment with PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) AND serious, severe, or extreme nonattainment with ozone NAAQS.

Provisions of the bill:

If a covered area fails to submit a State Implementation Plan under the act showing it will come into attainment: The Administrator’s currently limited discretion of imposing either highway penalties or offset penalties is eliminated by requiring both penalties be imposed. The offset ratio is raised from 2 to 1 up to 5 to 1. For each covered area as defined above, expanded and new penalty provisions will impose fees on major source emitters of VOC, NOx, and PM2.5 if the covered area is not making adequate progress toward attainment. Any fees incurred will be paid to the Administrator of the EPA. Specifically, the bill:

Expands an existing penalty provision for failure of ozone nonattainment areas to come into attainment in the required timeframe. It does this by: Imposing penalties for failure of not only “severe” and “extreme,” but also “serious” ozone nonattainment areas to attain by their deadlines (increased coverage). Imposing pro rata penalties for failure to make adequate progress toward attainment annually, as determined by the Administrator (accelerating imposition of penalties). The penalties are escalating – 10% of full penalties for an initial finding of inadequate progress, plus an additional 5% of full penalties for each year the area fails to make adequate progress. Expanding the amount of emissions subject to a penalty from 20% of baseline emissions to 30%. Increasing the current penalty for emissions of VOCs from major sources: Serious areas increase from current $0/ton to $10,000/ton Severe areas increase from current $5,000/ton to $20,000/ton Extreme areas increase from $5,000/ton to $30,000. Expanding penalty provisions for ozone to include NOx at $5,000 ton.

Creates new penalties for failure to attain PM2.5 standards. It does this by: Assessing $50,000/ton for direct emissions of fine PM. The portion subject to penalty is 30% of baseline emissions, as with VOCs. Imposes pro rata accelerated and escalating penalties for failure to make progress, as with VOCs and NOx.

All of the provisions in the bill, including changes to current penalty structures, apply only to “covered areas” as defined by the bill.