Page images

permanent solution to the problem. This important point was emphasized by Secretary Gardner in December 1965 : "It is important to bear in mind," the Secretary said, "that with the increase in the number of automobiles projected for the remainder of this century, the pollution problem could become even more serious than it is today."

We estimate that before 1980, motor vehicles will be so numerous that present approaches to controlling pollution from the internal combustion ngine will be totally inadequate. If the public is to be protected against the threat of a steadily worsening motor vehicle pollution problem, new approaches to dealing with it must be found. Among those that should be explored are development of new control techniques and modification of the internal combustion engine to improve its combustion efficiency. Ultimately, if our present dependence on motor vehicles for a major portion of our transportation needs continues, we will almost certainly need to develop pollution-free power sources for motor vehicles.

The time to begin planning to meet this challenge is now. For our part, we plan to accelerate our ongoing research relating to control of emissions from the internal combustion engine and, at the same time to explore the possibilities of alternate power sources. We intend to encourage other groups to undertake similar research and development. Certainly, the automobile and petroleum industries have a responsibility to devote some of their resources to the task of meeting the challenge of future motor vehicle pollution.

A number of other aspects of the motor vehicle problem also require increased attention from government and industry. One is the need for practical and effective means of controlling nitrogen oxide emissions, which are a by-product of all combustion processes. As fuel combustion increases, this problem will inevitably be magnified unless means of dealing with it are developed and applied. As required by the amendments to the Clean Air Act, we are carrying on intensive research on the control of nitrogen oxide pollution from motor vehicles and on the establishment of applicable control standards. Our current target is for the application of such controls to the 1970 model-year automobiles.

Environmental lead contamination resulting in part from the use of lead additires in gasoline is another aspect of the motor vehicle pollution problem which calls for close examination and may necessitate control action in the years ahead. Mr. Chairman, I know that you and the members of subcommittee have already heard a great deal of testimony on the ways in which environmental lead contamination may threaten public health and on the research which the Public Health Service plans to undertake on this important problem. I want to add just a brief comment concerning the relationship of lead in gasoline to the problem of achieving practical control of air pollution from the internal combustion engine. There is evidence that the presence of lead compounds in gasoline may be a complicating factor in the application of techniques designed to control motor vehicle pollutants. Certainly, it has been fully demonstrated that lead tends to accelerate the deterioration of the types of chemical catalysts that might be used in afterburner control devices. Clearly, this factor must be given consideration in future planning and action regarding the control of motor vehicle pollution.

The need to control emissions from diesel engines is still another important aspect of the problem of motor vehicle pollution; indeed, from the standpoint of someone driving behind a diesel bus or truck, it may well seem the most important. I suspect that no other aspect of the problem makes so many people so indignant or so uncomfortable on so many occasions. The smoke and odors that come from diesel engines are, by any standard, an obnoxious nuisance; moreover, diesel engines contribute to community air pollution in other less obvious ways, as well.

The amendments to the Clean Air Act provided authority under which the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare can establish national standards for the control of diesel emissions. A number of technical problems relating to the control of diesel emissions must be resolved before controls can be established. To this end, we are pursuing studies in the area of diesel control technology and on the establishment of appropriate control standards. In my view, however, the Federal Government should not have to bear the total burden of conducting such research, which will be of benefit not only to the public at large but also to the diesel industry. Manufacturers and users of diesel-powered vehicles must accept their full share of the responsibility for conducting the needed research and development and making their technical knowledge widely available. Air pollution from the combustion of sulfur-containing fuels is another major problem that threatens to become even more serious than it is now unless effective

control action is taken. Sulfur oxide pollution arising chiefly from the burning of coal and heavy fuel oil is already a serious threat to public health and welfare in many urban communities. In the next several years, this problem can only worsen unless available means of alleviating it are used to the fullest possible extent, while at the same time the development and application of new control technology are accelerated.

In the Clean Air Act and the 1965 amendments to it, the Congress gave the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare a mandate to find practical and effective solutions to the sulfur oxide problem. To this end, we have attacked the problem along a broad front in recognition of both the need for new technology and of the opportunities that exist to curtail sulfur oxide pollution by modifying the pattern of fuel use in urban areas.

In the area of technology for the control of sulfur oxide emissions, there have been several encouraging developments which, if they prove feasible on further investigation, offer promise of substantial improvements in techniques for dealing with this vital problem at its largest and most important sources. From a technical standpoint, there are two principal approaches to reducing sulfur oxide emissions-removal of sulfur from fuels before they are burned or removal of sulfur oxides from combustion gases.

A number of techniques for removing sulfur oxides from combustion gases have reached the stage of development at which full-scale testing in large fuelburning installations is needed to determine their feasibility. A sum of one million dollars for pre-planning for large scale tests of several such techniques is included in our proposed budget for the coming Fiscal Year. The testing is expected to be performed at electric power plants operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. With respect to the removal of sulfur from fuels, its removal from coal remains an unsolved technical problem ; however, techniques for removing sulfur from petroleum fuels have been available for several years. Their application to high-sulfur residual fuel oil, particularly to the large quantities of such fuel burned at many electric power plants, would be of substantial value in reducting sulfur oxide pollution in many large urban areas. Our estimates indicate that the expense of desulfurization, if it were passed on to electric consumers, would result in a relatively slight increase in the cost of electricity to the average customer.

A need clearly exists for accelerated research and development in the area of sulfur oxide control. As provided in the Clean Air Act and the 1965 amend. ments, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is stepping up its efforts; in this connection, we are working closely with the Bureau of Mines and the Office of Coal Research of the Department of the Interior. The coal. petroleum, and electric power industries, with which we have been maintaining liaison. are also expanding their activities. I am confident that greater efforts on the part of all concerned with this problem will produce the needed technical competence.

But we must bear in mind that there are other measures which can be taken now to alleviate the sulfur oxide problem. These measures involve increased use of fuels whose sulfur content is naturally low or locating large fuel-burning installations, such as electric power plants, at considerable distance from large cities, and using tall chimneys.

There is no doubt that low-sulfur fuels are available in this country, but it has been only recently that government and industry have begun to examine the extent to which such fuels might be channeled to urban area where sulfur oxide pollution has already reached serious proportions.

The construction of very large electric generating stations adjacent to coal mines is being stimulated by both economic considerations and air pollution factors. l'nquestionably, construction of mine-mouth plants with very tall stacks in relatively sparsely populated areas helps to prevent the worsening of sulfur oxide pollution that would have resulted from their construction in urban areas. However, the very large size of mine-mouth plants, from which significant pollution may extend out 25 miles or more, causes concern because of the possibilities of exposure of small communities and of causing extensive damage to vegetation. For such large installations, with stacks 800 to 1,000 feet high, technical estimates of ground-level pollution concentrations are subject to some uncertainty. Consequently, it is our present opinion that such plants should be limited to about 2.000 megawatts (when burning coal of about 2.5 percent sulfur) until actual measurements can be made to assess the validity of such estimates.

The increased availability of natural gas-which is essentially sulfur-freeoffers still another opportunity for reducing air pollution arising from the combustion of high-sulfur fuels. The use of natural gas for domestic heating is already making a significant contribution to control of air pollution. Its increased use in electric power plants in places with serious pollution problems could result in significant reductions in sulfur oxide pollution and in the serious threat that such pollution poses to public health and welfare. Such use, of course, must be considered in relation to the relative scarcity of natural gas as compared to other fossil fuels. In recent months, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has stressed these points in officially intervening in three cases before the Federal Power Commission-cases involving applications for transmission of increased quantities of natural gas to electric utilities in the Los Angeles area, the City of New York, and the Florida east-coast area. Our basic position in these cases has been that air pollution should receive a high priority in decisions on the allocation of interstate supplies of natural gas.

The functions of conducting and supporting research and training activities are an integral part of the Federal air pollution program under the provisions of the Clean Air Act and the 1965 amendments. In addition to our research and development activities in connection with the problems of motor vehicle pollution and sulfur oxide pollution, which I have already discussed, we are giving continuing attention to the need for improved understanding of the nature, effects, and control of the contemporary air pollution problem in all its complex ramifications and to the pressing need for more trained manpower to conduct air pollution control programs.

In the area of research on the health hazards of air pollution, the early efforts of many scientists concerned with this problem produced a substantial body of evidence associating air pollution with illness and death from a nuinber of respiratory diseases, including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and lung ca}}cer. Though we are pursuing our investigations of the connection between air pollution and specific diseases, we are placing increasing emphasis on identifying and assessing the significance of earlier manifestations of the adverse effects of air pollution such as changes in respiratory function that may be precursors of chronic disease. Our current efforts in this connection include support of a Statewide study of respiratory function in Alabama. Our concern with such problems is a reflection of the very nature of the contemporary air pollution problem which, in many communities, is not so bothersome as to be intolerable, and which is associated with chronic diseases that develop slowly and imperceptibly over long periods of time.

In the area of technology for the control of air pollution, the knowledge and skills needed to control most major sources have been available for several Fears. Our present and projected future research efforts in this area relate principally to improving the effectiveness and reducing the cost of existing con)trol methods. To cite just one example, control of particulate air pollutants has already reached a high degree of effectiveness; however, techniques capable of an even greater degree of efficiency will be needed in years to come. In addition, there is a need for practical, low-cost methods of controlling particulates from incinerators and certain other sources. Other major needs in the area of control technology include first, an improved understanding of the ways in which pollutant emissions from combustion and from various industrial processes may be reduced modifications in equipment design and operation and, second, practical and economical methods of recovering and reusing by-products of pollution control.

A full report on our research activities and on future needs would take a great amount of time. Mr. Chairman very briefly, we are pursuing and extending our research in many other areas, including the understanding of atmospheric reartions involving man-made pollutants, development of mathematical models which would permit air pollution considerations to be integrated into overall urban planning, and improvement of our capability of forecasting meteorological couditions that may permit a build-up of pollution in the air over areas of substantial In the current Fiscal Year, which will end on June 30th our total investment in research, including the work of our own staff and grant and contract supported activities, is $14.2 million. This Federal expenditure is estimated at more than half of the combined research investment by government, industry, wiversities, and other groups. Though it is difficult to determine exactly how much research is being conducted by various industries, the best available information leaves no doubt that some of those industries which are among the leading con


tributors to community air pollution problems are not making a commensurate contribution to needed research activities. Especially in the area of control technology, industry has a basic responsibility to place its unique capabilities at the disposal of communities seeking to achieve cleaner air. Yet, in our competitive economic system, there is but little incentive for industry to undertake such research. In my opinion, there is real need to devise additional incentives for this purpose.

In the area of training activities, our efforts have been expanded three-fold, in terms of expenditures, since the adoption of the Clean Air Act. A major share of the increase has been directed toward helping to enlarge the supply of technical personnel qualified to work in the air pollution control field. We are currently supporting graduate training programs at 19 universities and providing aid to individual graduate students under a fellowship program. In addition, shortterm training courses are conducted at the Taft Sanitary Engineering Center and in other locations, primarily to improve the technical competence of individuals already working in the air pollution field.

The major purpose of our training activities is, of course, to help meet the increasing manpower needs of local and State air pollution programs. As I have already noted, the shortage of trained personnel is becoming a serious obstacle to the needed expansion of State and local control activities. For a variety of reasons, many State and local agencies are unable to recruit and retain personnel who have been trained under the auspices of the Federal Government. The result is that most of our trainees ultimately have been finding employment with industry or universities. We are currently seeking ways of channeling more of these people to State and local programs. We have a number of approaches under consideration, including efforts to encourage State and local agencies to resolve the organizational and salary problems that are important factors in their manpower shortages, setting up an informal clearing-house for employment opportunities in the air pollution field, and providing greater incentives for qualified individuals to seek employment with State and local agencies. Nem approaches are clearly needed; which ones will be most productive remains to be determined. The manpower problem is one which we certainly have an obligation to help resolves.

Technical assistance in the development of new air pollution programs and the improvement of existing programs is another area in which the needs of State and local agencies are increasing. To keep pace with requests for such assistance, we have more than doubled our spending for technical services in the past three years. Two areas of activity account for most of our effort in technical services. The first involves assistance to State and local governments in assessing their air pollution problems and planning control programs. Among the places where we are currently providing assistance for major projects are northwestern Indiana, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia, and the City of Chicago; in addition, we provided extensive assistance for the major air pollution study just co pleted in the St. Louis metropolitan area-a comprehensive study that provides a sound basis for control action both in the city of St. Louis and in the surrounding areas of Missouri and Illinois.

The second major purpose of our technical services activity is to gather and publish reliable technical information on air pollution control problems associated with specific industries. This effort is intended primarily to assist State and local control officials in dealing with such problems, but it is, of course, also of direct benefit to the industries concerned. Work is now in progress on siirveys of the pulp and paper industry, manufacturing of phosphoric acid and related phosphate fertilizers, and various segments of the chemical industry. A report on sulfuric acid manufacturing, one of the largest segments of the chemical industry, was issued several months ago. We expect to begin work next year on surveys of other industries.

With the adoption of the Clean Air Act, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare was assigned the responsibility for developing and publishing air quality criteria to assist air pollution control agencies in establishing legally enforceable air quality standards. A staff of three scientists, under the direction of an Assistant Chief of the Dirsion of Air Pollution, has been carrying on the work needed to develop such criteria.

The required work includes exhaustive surveys of the scientific literature, evaluation of findings reported in the literature, and consultation with expert in the physical and biomedical sciences. Criteria for two major classes of pollutants-oxidants associated with photochemical smog and sulfur oxides--are now nearing completion.

It is important to recognize that such criteria will not be a panacea for in. adequate air pollution control programs. A major purpose of the criteria is to assist control officials in determining the extent to which community air pollution levels should be controlled in order to prevent adverse health and other effects. But no extensive surveys of the scientific literature are needed to show that the levels of air pollution which are now commonplace in many urban areas are well above any hypothetical safe level. Control action should not be delayed until complete criteria of air quality are available. To do so would be to overlook a very substantial body of widely available scientific evidence of the serious health hazards of the air pollution problem as it exists now in countless American communities.

The final item in my progress report on the Federal air pollution program concerns the control of air pollution at Federal installations. In the Clean Air Aet, the Congress expressed its intent that Federal agencies should not contribute to community air pollution problems. To this end, the Clean Air Act called on all Federal agencies to cooperate with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in dealing with air pollution problems arising from their activities and it authorized the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to establish a procedure for the issuance of permits for the operation of Federal facilities which might create air pollution. In connection with these responsibilities, we have greatly increased our liaison with other Federal agencies and, in many cases, provided technical assistance in dealing with specific air pollution sources. A feasible system for issuing permits to Federal agencies and enforcing the conditions of such permits has not been worked out. In our experience, however, most agencies have been cooperative in dealing with their air pollution problems to the full extent permitted by the funds available to them for such purposes.

On several occasions, President Johnson has called on all Federal agencies to observe exemplary practices in the control of air pollution problems which their activities may create. An Executive Order embodying this directive has been issued. To implement it, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare has issued detailed instructions for the control of air pollution from Federal facilities. These instructions apply to new as well as existing facilities; their application should result in significant progress toward reducing the contribution which Federal activities make to the total problem of air pollution in American communities.

In summary, Mr. Chairman, our experience during the past two and one-half Fears have proved that the Clean Air Act can indeed produce a marked increase in the Nation's ability to deal with the mounting problem of air pollution. Its influence is most apparent, as we have seen, in the expanding activities of the Federal air pollution program and in the response of State and local governments. But there is also evidence of important changes in the attitudes of many segments of business and industry, the scientific community, and the public at large. The impact of the Clean Air Act is reflected in the rising interest and involvement of numerous public and private groups-ranging from women's clubs to voluntary health agencies and conservation organizations—many of which have little in common except a strong concern about air pollution. This new trend will inevitably strengthen the national commitment to effective control of air pollution in the months and years ahead.

But we must not forget that we have only begun the job of fulfilling that commitment. In most communities, the air is no cleaner now than it was two and one-half years ago; in many, the burden of pollution has increased. And it threatens to increase still further in the years to come.

As the chart on your right indicates, all the trends that contribute to the potential of air pollution are rising. Urban population, use of motor vehicles, fuel consumption, economic activity, and production of waste-all are increasing.

The adoption of the Clean Air Act set the Nation on the road toward truly effective control of air pollution. The bill you have under consideration, Mr. Chairman, will enable us to keep moving along that road. Its provisions would help to provide needed flexibility with respect to future budgeting for Federal air pollution activities and Federal financial assistance to State and local control programs.

In brief. Mr. Chairman, the bill would, first, consolidate the separate appropriation authorizations now contained in the Clean Air Act and the 1965 amendments. Second, it would authorize an increase of about $9 million in appropriations for the Federal air pollution program for Fiscal Year 1967 and would authorize appropriation of such sums as may be necessary for the succeeding five years.

« PreviousContinue »