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Air Rules Protested

January 30, 1997
By: Esther Braun
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - EPA's tougher air-quality standards have come under fire from a group of Republican state senators.

"This could be no more tailgating at Arrowhead on beautiful Sunday afternoons," Sen. Peter Kinder told the Senate Rules Committee Thursday.

Kinder testifed on a resolution he has co-sponsored that urges EPA to abandon its proposed new standards.

"This is where the rubber hits the road for the auto body and fender shop, for the dry cleaning establishment, for the painting operation that may release some fumes in the air," said the Cape Girardeau Republican.

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal would tighten severely the air standards for ozone and "fine particular matter" (dust).

Six GOP senators have introduced the resolution in opposition to the EPA's plan on the grounds that current scientific information on the long-term effects of pollution on public health and environmental conditions is far from being reliable.

"Research does not suggest a clear correlation between tighter standards and better health conditions...EPA's research results are not credible", Kinder said in an interview.

The Republicans warn that Missouri consumers would end up paying the cost for businesses to comply with the standards.

"Middle class people don't care too much if prices go up, but the blue collar person gets hurt", said Senate GOP Leader Steve Ehlmann, R-St. Charles County. "We have to weigh costs against alleged benefits."

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce warns that meeting the standards might require businesses to eliminate free parking for their workers to cut down traffic and tougher auto-exhaust standards, as well as restrictions on backyard barbecues and lawn mowers.

The St. Louis area has been struggling with special air-pollution regulations the past few years to bring the area into compliance with EPA's current standards.

Some rural lawmakers complain EPA's new proposal would subject their areas to similar restrictions.

"It infuriates me that the same regulations are applied to very different districts", said Sen. Doyle Childers, R-Reeds Spring. "Employment is jeopardized by people in Washington deciding what's good for the people in my district."

While bashing federal agencies is a popular sport in Missouri's legislature, not every lawmaker is ready to attack EPA.

"I think we're rushing to a conclusion there that may not be wise," said Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis County.

Goode, one of the legislature's few members of the Sierra Club, said the tougher standards might actually make thing easier for the St. Louis area.

"With the tougher standards come some more flexible implementation provisions. So as far as St. Louis is concerned, it's somewhat of a tradeoff."

The Senate resolution, if passed by the legislature would have no legal affect. Instead, it simply expresses the sentiment of the state legislature -- that on this issue, at least, Missouri lawmakers don't like federal rules being imposed on the state.