Thursday, December 21, 2000

Voinovich may lead panel on clean air

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Sen. George Voinovich, who for years fought the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over federal clean air standards, is likely to become chairman of the Senate subcommittee on clean air in the next Congress.

        Mr. Voinovich, R-Ohio, would take over the subcommittee just as Congress prepares to review the Clean Air Act, the federal law that regulates air pollution.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also considering whether the EPA's standards for ozone and fine-particle emissions are constitutional, and Congress may be urged to rewrite the guidelines.

        The senator would have an important voice over new air pollution regulations of critical concern to Ohio's manufacturing and coal-burning power plants.

        As Ohio governor, Mr. Voinovich ordered E-check, an emissions testing program unpopular with residents, after several counties failed to meet federal air quality guidelines. But he resisted ozone, fine-particle and nitrogen oxide emission standards as threats to commerce and jobs.

        He and Sen. John Breaux, D-La., have sought to require the EPA to conduct risk-assessment and cost-benefit studies of new rules. The EPA can only weigh the impact on public health.

        Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, a nonprofit environmental group, described Mr. Voinovich as “smarter, more effective and possibly more dangerous” than other Republican leaders.

        “He's a very formidable thinker and advocate for his issues,” Mr. O'Donnell said.

        The National Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund praised the senator this year for supporting a $7.8 billion project to restore the Florida Everglades.


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- Voinovich may lead panel on clean air
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