Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Inhofe Champions Battle against EPA Clean Air Rules

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Inhofe Champions Battle against EPA Clean Air Rules

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- "I'm trying to use my most moderate language," Sen. James Mountain Inhofe warned the witness - an Environmental Protection Agency official who testified last week at a congressional hearing.

"But the EPA is being blatantly dishonest with the American people" about its proposed new air quality standards, declared Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee that oversees the federal Clean Air Act.

A conservative before conservative was cool -- opining way back in the Vietnam War era that George McGovern should be hanged with Jane Fonda -- the 62-year-old Oklahoma Republican has long been known for speaking his mind. Inhofe has a special disdain for the EPA, which he has deemed a "Gestapo bureaucracy." Now Inhofe, through his position and philosophy, has emerged as a leader in the fight to thwart implementation of new air standards. The rules are aimed at sharply reducing ozone, a component of smog, and controlling tiny airborne flecks of dust and soot called particulate matter. In his crusade, Inhofe is championing the cause of many jurisdictions -- such as metropolitan Atlanta -- that have still not met current EPA air quality standards, despite considerable effort and expenditure. Some officials in these areas fear the cost to taxpayers and businesses of trying to reach even higher levels of air purity. "Communities that have struggled for years to attain the existing standard will now have the goal posts moved in the middle of the game," complained Inhofe. "This is unfair particularly to the inner cities seeking to attract jobs and a higher standard of living for their people." "There is little justification for the EPA's ill-conceived mandates," the senator added. "These rules do not reflect good science or good policy." Inhofe has promised to introduce legislation to postpone a decision on the new standards for at least five years. He said the nation needs further study to establish a consensus about what is necessary and appropriate. A similar bill is pending in the House. Without such blocking legislation -- which President Clinton would likely veto -- the new EPA standards will be implemented under existing law. Inhofe's plain-spoken politics and personality are rooted in Tulsa, the dusty, boom-or-bust oil town where he grew up and spent most of his life. Like the Presbyterian, business-oriented Inhofe, Tulsa is hard- core conservative, both culturally and politically. Tourists come from all over the Southwest to see Tulsa's bronze, 60-foot-tall "Praying Hands" statue. After studying economics at the University of Tulsa, Inhofe developed real estate in his rapidly growing home town before entering politics. He served as mayor of Tulsa from 1978 to 1984 and later represented the congressional district encompassing Tulsa County. …

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