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our intent that a low leaded and eventually a nonleaded gasoline will be made available so as to encourage industry to rapidly initiate the changes which must be made. The tax on the lead additive is a means to accomplish this, since it allows the low and nonleaded fuels to compete economically with those containing lead.
We have in this instance a good example of one of the major causes of our environmental problems--the failure of our economic system to fully take into account all of the social costs that result from productive or consumptive activities. A portion of the costs of using, in this case, leaded gasolines are costs in environmental degradation and are not now taken adequately into account by consumers because the prices they pay for alternative fuels do not reflect these costs.
It is our feeling that while regulation will be necessary, corrections must be made in our system of economic incentives and restraints by having prices, which guide decisions, more adequately take pollution costs into account. The pervasive impacts of market forces can be utilized in dealing with environmental problems but we must more fully insure that prices include all of the relevant costs.
The proposed taxation of the lead additive is an example of bringing environmental effects into the market or price system.
At this time I would like to read one short paragraph from the first annual Environmental Quality Report which the President transmitted to the Congress a couple of weeks ago.
The quotation is from page 12:
Our price system fails to take into account the environmental damage that the polluter inflicts on others. Economists calls these damages-which are very realexternal social costs. They reilect the ability of one entity, for example, a company, to use water or air as a free resource for waste disposal while others pay the cost in contaminated air or water.
If there were a way to make the price structure shoulder these external coststaxing the firm for the amount of discharge, for instance—then the price for the goods and services produced would reflect these costs.
Failing this, goods whose production spawns pollution are greatly underpriced because the purchaser does not pay for pollution abatement that would prevent environmental damage.
Not only does this failure encourage pollution but it warps the price structure. A price structure that took environmental degradation into account would cause a shift in prices, hence a shift in consumer preferences and, to some extent, would discourage buying pollution-producing products.
The tax on lead additives should assist in reducing the lead content in gasolines. This will substantially reduce the possible human health hazard from atmospheric lead particles and will help in developing devices to reduce the gaseous automotive emission pollutants. Hence, this tax will contribute in a positive manner toward improving the quality of our environment.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, environmental quality is rapidly becoming a broad desire of the American people. It is a goal to which both parties express their commitment. We should all recognize that environmental quality is not going to be achieved for nothing.
We are going to have to pay for it. The tax on lead additives in gasoline proposed by the administration represents the first clear call upon our Nation to face up to such costs.
I urge this committee and the Congress to support this important step.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Train.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN G. VENEMAN, UNDER SECRETARY,
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE; ACCOMPANIED BY DR. JOHN T. MIDDLETON, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL AIR POLLUTION CONTROL ADMINISTRATION; AND ERIC O. STORK, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER FOR MOBILE SOURCE POLLUTION CONTROL
Mr. VENEMAN. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
It is as always a pleasure to appear before you. Though my testimony today deals with a subject quite different from those I have discussed with you on previous occasions, it, too, has a direct bearing on public health and welfare.
That subject, of course, is the environmental health problem arising from the use of lead additives in gasoline. It is a complex problem, but one whose solution is well within our grasp.
Adding lead compounds is the cheapest way of producing the highoctane gasoline required by many of today's cars; however, a substantial portion of the lead is released into the air in automobile exhausts.
Total emissions of lead into the Nation's air are now about 200,000 tons per year, up from 130,000 tons 10 years ago. Nearly all of it, approximately 95 percent, results from the use of lead in gasoline.
Thus, if the use of lead at present levels continues, lead emissions will continue to increase in almost direct proportion to increases in the Nation's use of motor vehicles.
The impact of lead emissions on air quality can be and has been measured. Lead levels in the air are highest in urban areas and along heavily traveled highways.
There can be no doubt that lead in the air can and does enter the human body; indeed lead emitted from motor vehicles consists primarily of particles whose small size permits them to penetrate deeply down into the lungs and to be absorbed into the blood. Food and beverages also contain lead, partly because lead is a naturally occurring element in soil and water but also because of the impact of lead emitted from motor vehicles and analysis of precipitation samples has indicated that their lead content was correlated with gasoline consumption in the area where the samples were taken.
From the standpoint of public health, the use of lead additives in gasoline is a matter of substantial concern. Early next year an air quality criteria document summarizing available knowledge of the effects of lead on human health will be published under provisions of the Clean Air Act.
That document currently is being prepared by the National Air Pollution Control Administration with the assistance of the National Academy of Sciences and various expert advisory groups.
Even without that document in hand, however, it is clear that human exposure to lead is hazardous to health.
There is no evidence that lead is necessary to sustain human life; on the contrary, man has known for centuries that lead is poisonous. The effects of acute lead poisoning are well known, they range from physical disabilities and mental retardation to death. While exposure to present levels of lead in the air has not been shown to be the direct cause of lead poisoning or other identifiable illnesses, many scientists are concerned about effects of a more subtle nature.
There is evidence, for example, that lead may affect the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying material in the blood; such effects may occur even while lead levels in the body are below those associated with acute lead poisoning.
There is also concern as to whether present lead levels in man are sufficiently below the levels associated with acute lead poisoning to provide an adequate safety margin. Persons living in urban areas and having no unusual exposure to lead now may have levels as high as 30 micrograms of lead per 100 grams of blood.
In comparison, symptoms of acute lead poisoning have been observed repeatedly in children whose blood levels were as low as 60 micrograms of lead per 100 grams of blood.
From the standpoint of prudent concern for human health, such figures suggest that this safety margin is not adequate, particularly if lead emissions are destined to continue increasing
It should be emphasized that many persons, such as traffic policemen, automobile mechanics, and parking garage attendants, have unusual exposure to lead emitted from motor vehicles and have higher lead levels in their blood than is the case among persons not so exposed.
Finally, it is also known that blood levels in urban children are double those in rural children. These higher lead levels may be due to inhalation of atmospheric lead, or to the inhalation and swallowing of street dirt, which has shown great increases in lead contents since the introduction of leaded gasolines.
Since the body burden of lead is made up of lead absorbed from a variety of sources in addition to lead from the air, higher levels of lead in the air may pose a special problem by increasing susceptibility to lead poisoning among children ingesting lead-based paint and putty.
In summary, while our scientific knowledge of the health effects of lead certainly is not as complete as we would like it to be, it is sufficient to suggest that failure to act now may result in serious health problems in years to come.
Taking such a risk would be unjustifiable under any circumstances; it is particularly unjustifiable in this case, since there is no compelling reason for continuing to use lead additives in gasoline.
On the other hand, there are reasons beyond those I have already cited, for taking lead out of gasoline. Exhaust emissions from motor vehicles contain substantial amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides, all of which contributes significantly to the Nation's air pollution problems.
In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has established national standards for the control of emissions of these pollutants from new motor vehicles and we expect to tighten these standards over the next few years.
From information now available, it appears that some automobile manufacturers are likely to employ catalytic devices to meet the motor vehicle emission standards scheduled to take effect in the 1975 model year.
Such devices contain a chemical catalyst designed to transform pollutants into harmless substances. The trouble is that lead either damages or destroys the many catalysts on which experiments have been conducted; indeed some catalysts can be ruined by a single tankful of leaded gasoline.
It is possible, of course, that catalytic or other devices that would not be damaged by lead can be perfected but if they are, they will perform just as well, if not better, and last longer, in an absence of lead.
Certainly there is no known emission control technique whose effectiveness is enhanced by the presence of lead in gasoline. And in nearly all instances, it appears that such devices can be made of cheaper materials when they are to be used with unleaded gasoline.
It is the view of qualified independent scientists and engineers, such as the expert panel recently assembled by the Commerce Department, that the development of a desirable variety of devices to meet increasingly stringent future emission standards requires that leadfree gasoline be available.
There are some arguments for keeping lead in gasoline, but they are not very persuasive. One such argument is that unleaded gasoline will be more expensive, that is true; but studies already made suggest that if the use of lead additives is phased out in an orderly way, the increased cost to the average motorist can be held to about 1 cent per gallon.
Another argument is that today's automobile engines required lead in gasoline as a valve lubricant. This is also true, to some extent, but the fact is that as little as one-half gram of lead per gallon, about 80 perrent below present levels, would serve this purpose in present automobiles.
Furthermore, new automobiles can readily be designed to operate satisfactorily without any lead in gasoline, in fact, automobile manufacturers have indicated that almost all 1971 model domestic cars will be so designed.
Still another argument that has been made is that substitution of aromatic hydrocarbons for lead in order to maintain current octane ratings would increase the smog forming potential of motor vehicles exhaust emissions.
In this connection, it should be noted that the exact relationship between aromatic content and smog producing potential has not been well established, particularly with respect to the changes in gasoline consumption and composition that would be associated with production of lead-free gasoline.
In any event, exhaust gas treatment, particularly with catalytic devices, is especially effective in reducing smog forming exhaust compoints. Even if there are slight increases in emissions from smog forming hydrocarbons, they will be insignificant in the context of our projected requirements for severe limitations on total hydrocarbon emissions.
Finally, the assumption that current octane ratings must be maintained is not valid. Domestic automobile manufacturers have indicated that the 1971 and later model cars will be designed to use fuel having lower octane ratings than today's regular gasolines; this will include models that previously required premium gasoline.
A great deal more could be said about the economic and technological ramifications of producing unleaded gasoline. This subject is being studied by a panel of experts assembled by the Department of Commerce; their study is supported in part by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Their initial report, issued just 2 months ago, strongly recommends that steps be taken promptly to discontinue the use of lead additives in gasoline, and more specifically to require that lead free gasoline be generally available by 1974.
If legislation proposed by President Nixon in February of this year is enacted by the Congress, the machinery for planning and executing and orderly reduction and eventual elimination of the use of lead additives will be available. I am referring to the President's proposal that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare be authorized to regulate the use of fuel additives.
If such legislation is enacted and we fully expect that it will be, we will give first attention to the lead problem.
But that regulatory effort, in itself, will not be sufficient. Based on present information, it appears that, until such time as lead free gasoline is the only fuel needed for our cars, an economic disincentive to the use of leaded gasoline will be necessary to discourage the use of such gasoline in motor vehicles that do not require its use.
It is for that reason that the President has made the tax proposal that you now have under consideration. I certainly urge favorable action on this proposal at the earliest possible time.
In conclusion, I want to try to put into perspective the question of whether our present scientific knowledge justifies the removal of lead from gasoline.
All scientific work is incomplete, and all scientific evidence is subject to modification through advances in research. But these truths cannot be used as an excuse to ignore the knowledge we already have or to postpone the action that such knowledge appears to demand at a given time.
Reversing the tide of environmental pollution will require many changes, in the way we do things. But there is nothing new about that.
For example, lead is no longer used in paint on baby's cribs. A material that once was used to waterproof basement walls, but that was explosive, has been banned. So has the use of carbon tetrachloride as a household cleaner.
In the retrospect, the need for such steps seems obvious, and we may well wonder why they were then not taken sooner. I expect that within a few years, that is what we will be saying about lead in gasoline, particularly when the use of lead-free gasoline adds only a slight increment to the cost of operating motor vehicles.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
STATEMENT OF DR. HUBERT HEFFNER, ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE
OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; ACCOMPANIED BY DR. S. WILLIAM GOUSE, JR., TECHNICAL ASSISTANT
Dr. HEFFNER. It is a pleasure to be here to support the administration's proposal to tax lead additives in gasoline. Such a tax will create an immediate and effective incentive for the rapid marketing of a gasoline with a low and eventually zero lead content. This tax coupled with the fuel additive regulatory authority requested by the Secretary of HEW will provide the petroleum and the automotive industries with clear guidelines on which to base their investment, marketing research, and development decisions.