Clean Air Villain of the Month

January 2001


(Washington, D.C. January 4, 2001) - The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today awarded its clean air "Villain of the Month" award for January to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO).

Rep. Emerson earned this dubious distinction by fronting for an industry group and successfully inserting an anti-clean air "rider" into a budget bill for the Treasury, Labor, Education and Health and Human Services Departments.

Why this sneak attack? For more than three years, industry polluters have smoldered about confidential health records that were used by EPA in setting tougher fine particle soot standards in 1997. Industry lawyers were itching to get their hands on the information -- perhaps so they could harass the participants and make it harder to perform similar studies in the future.

Unknown to the rest of us, the industry lawyers scored a victory when Rep. Emerson inserted the rider into the budget bill. The rider would give industry a new avenue to challenge data used to support a federal regulation.

The rider appears to be the brainchild of The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, a business-funded group whose agenda -- its name notwithstanding -- appears to include throwing sand into the gears of the regulatory machinery.

James Tozzi, the Center's head, said the rider could allow challenges to "any data point," not just a standard itself. The opportunity to challenge data could be extended to risk assessments and other estimation tools, Tozzi told the Daily Environment Report published by the Bureau of National Affairs.

EPA has continued to deny industry requests to examine the health records used to support the 1997 standards.

At the very least, Rep. Emerson's rider will lead to increased red tape for agencies such as the EPA, and that's exactly what the polluters want.