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Governor Voices Opposition to Federal Bill that Weakens NJ’s Ability to Protect Air Quality
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October 14, 2003 (rt23 news) - (TRENTON)—Continuing his efforts to protect the quality of New Jersey’s air, Governor James E. McGreevey sent a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Senate leaders stressing his opposition to a Senate bill (S1584), which would eliminate New Jersey’s authority under the Clean Air Act to clean-up air pollution from small to medium sized off-road engines.

The Governor has made environmental protection, specifically clean air, a top priority of his Administration. Under the Governor’s leadership, New Jersey has taken a leading role in the legal fight to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants. Most recently, New Jersey won a landmark lawsuit against Ohio Edison Company for increased emissions from the plant. New Jersey was also successful in its efforts to shut down two coal-fired units at Martins Creek, a Pennsylvania power plant. Presently, the Governor is suing the Bush Administration for its efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act and subject Northeast residents to smog and toxic emissions generated by upwind power plants.

The letter to the Senators is yet another action by Governor McGreevey to protect the quality of New Jersey’s air. Below is the text of the Governor’s letter to Frist, Daschle, Stevens and Byrd:

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the citizens of the State of New Jersey, I am writing to express my strong opposition to an amendment included in the Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies appropriations bill (S.1584, Report No. 108-143). S1584 was approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on September 4, 2003 and will soon be coming up for a vote in the full Senate.

This amendment is contrary to federalism and preempts state rights. It would eliminate state authority under the Clean Air Act to clean up air pollution from small to medium sized off-road engines, a major cause of unhealthful air pollutant levels. Specifically, it would preempt state ability to control emissions from all gasoline and diesel off-road engines below 175 horsepower including: lawnmowers, generators, forklifts and construction equipment, as well as certain engines above 175 horsepower.

Air pollution levels in New Jersey, as well as in other states around the country, exceed health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and fine particles in a number of areas. Allowing this provision to become law would result in significant health consequences for the citizens of New Jersey. Following are some of the reasons why:

  • The magnitude of air pollution from these engines is large. They emit over 20 percent of the ozone-forming pollutants and over 30 percent of the fine particle pollutants from all on-road and off-road engines in New Jersey. These pollutants are responsible for substantial numbers of premature deaths (from both heart and lung and cancer impacts ) and asthma attacks in the State each year.
  • The Clean Air Act requires us to plan and implement actions to reduce air pollutant levels below the air quality standards within specified timeframes. To do so, it is a basic principle of the Clean Air Act that a state must be able to adopt control measures best suited to its circumstances. The Clean Air Act already limits a state’s options to the federal program or to the California Program for mobile source new engine standards. If this amendment passes, a potentially vital option for New Jersey to achieve its attainment requirements would be lost. Such restrictions, unless well founded, would only shift the economic burden for cleaner air to other sources, often at greater cost.
Further, the timing, scope and process for this amendment are flawed. It is my understanding that this amendment seeks to preempt new standards on smaller gasoline engines proposed by the California Air Resource Board (CARB). CARB has recently received several counter-proposals to new standards on smaller gasoline engines that they are now considering. Hence, in addition to being an unwise abrogation of state authority, any legislative action to address concerns raised by CARB’s proposal is premature. Also, the scope of the amendment’s exclusion is overly broad compared to the concerns expressed by the small engine manufacturers to date, which have focused on the emissions standards for gasoline engines less than 25 horsepower.

If legislation relative to small engines is considered to be necessary in the future, it should proceed through appropriate committees charged to oversee the Clean Air Act, such as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This, not an amendment to an appropriations bill, would provide an opportunity for full and open debate.

As a Governor responsible for the health and welfare of New Jersey citizens, I urge you, our Congressional leadership, not to permit precipitous action on this matter and to make every effort to have this provision removed before final passage. Presented with this additional information, I am sure that the sponsor of the amendment, Senator Bond, as a former Governor himself, would agree that this amendment should be withdrawn for the health and welfare of our citizens.

Thank you.

James E. McGreevey

c: Honorable Tom Daschle, Senate Minority Leader, Honorable Frank Lautenberg, Senator of New Jersey, Honorable Jon Corzine, Senator of New Jersey, Honorable Ted Stevens, Chair, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Honorable Robert Byrd, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Honorable Christopher Bond, Chair, Senate Subcommittee on VA/HUD-
Independent Agencies
Alan C. Lloyd, Ph.D., Chairman, CARB

Posted by: Staff at
October 14, 2003

Governor Voices Opposition to Federal Bill that Weakens NJ’s Ability to Protect Air Quality

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