WASHINGTON, D.C. - Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, today blasted reports that President Bill Clinton has endoresed new air quality standards, widely believed to be based on poor science and which prompted fierce criticism from within the Administration itself, which could have negative effects on agriculture and small business.
On May 14, Chairman Smith, Committee Vice Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX), Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's ranking Democrat, and 48 other Members of Congress concerned about agriculture wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner urging that the new standards be shelved pending greater, more complete scientific inquiry. The Members continue to be concerned that EPA has failed to adequately consult with the agriculture scientists on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Air Quality Task Force.
"I'm deeply disappointed and angry that the President would not heed the very real criticisms from the nation's mayors, scores of business and community groups, and agencies within the Administration. Given so much disagreement, even among the President's own advisors, I'm shocked that cooler heads didn't prevail. The potential job loss is enormous, and for agriculture, we could really be headed into uncharted territory," Chairman Smith said today.
"I will do everything I can to counter this plan. It is a policy based not on good science, but on politics," said House Agriculture Committee Vice Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX). "If some of the American people were to feel they would not be overburdened by the difficulty of living under this unworkable plan, they will be in for a very rude awakening. I also continue to express my very extreme concern that agriculture in America will be a major loser in these new, unscientific EPA regulations."
"I am extremely disappointed with the president's decision to move forward with the EPA's proposed air quality standards. I believe these regulations will result in tremendous cost burdens for agriculture, industry, and small businesses, without yielding any tangible health benefit in return. The scientific uncertainties associated with these regulations need further scrutiny before we proceed with onerous regulations which may prove devastating to our economy, and I intend to fight the promulgation of this rule until I am satisfied that there is scientific justification for these new standards," said Charlie Stenholm, Ranking Democrat.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district, which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon, is heavily dependent on agriculture. Combest represents Texas' 19th Congressional District, which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and the Permian Basin. Stenholm represents Texas' 17th Congressional District.