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TAX RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1970
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to notice, in the committee room, Longworth Building, Hon. Wilbur Mills (chairman of the committee) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please be in order. Our first witness this morning is our colleague from Florida, the Honorable Paul G. Rogers. We appreciate your coming to the committee. We are glad to have you and you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF HON. PAUL G. ROGERS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. ROGERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I thank you for allowing me to appear as a witness today.
As a member of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, I am, of course familiar with and deeply interested in this legislation.
I have studied it with both interest and concern, and appreciate the opportunity to pursue this matter with you here this morning.
I personally arrived at the conclusion that the lead particulates emitted in automobile exhaust and suspended in the air are a result of leaded gasoline and represent a hazard. Although the particulates are miniscule in size, it is estimated more than 200,000 tons of lead enters the air annually via the automobile exhaust.
Once inhaled, these tiny lead particles are imbedded in our lungs. Secondly our committee heard repeated testimony that air pollution could be drastically reduced by catalytic devices, but that these devices were operative only on nonleaded gasoline.
Therefore we reached the conclusion in the committee that lead in gasoline should be removed as quickly as possible to eliminate first, health hazards of particulates, and secondly, to allow new and innovative devices to reduce other pollutants.
Because I feel lead should be eliminated from gasoline, I appear here to voice my concern over the administration proposal to tax gasoline. I feel if this proposal is adopted the Federal Government will embark itself in a multibillion-dollar conflict of interest.
John Veneman, the Under Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, testified before your committee on September 9 and outlined the severe danger that lead represents to the health of our citizens and in summary says:
While our scientific knowledge of the health effects of lead is certainly not as complete as we would like it to be, it is sufficient to suggest that failure to act now may result in serious 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.
This was the intent of the legislation that we passed in committee and that the House has passed in the Clean Air Act—to eliminate the hazardous susbtances and all substances which would inhibit the performance of antipollution devices.
In the bill we instruct the Secretary for Health, Education, and Welfare to take the necessary action to get rid of lead in gasoline if it inhibits an antipollution device or if it affects the health of the people. And the Under Secretary has now testified that the Department now feels it definitely does affect the health of the public.
I thought it was a strange thing on the same day Mr. Veneman testified for HEW outlining the dangers to the lealth of American people that lead poses and the intent to eliminate it from gasoline, that Secretary of the Treasury Kennedy testified and said the administration desperately needed the $1.1 billion in revenue that such tax would provide.
An obvious conflict is thus set up in the Government between HEW who is instructed by one law to get rid of lead in gasoline if it affects health and they say it does, and the Department of the Treasury, saying as its watchdog on the money situation saying that they desperately need the revenue produced from the pollutant. I wonder then, are we going to see the desperate need for revenue as set forth by Treasury forestall HEW's action to eliminate lead, thus frustrating part of the effort to clean up the air.
I think this would represent a frustration of the clean air amendments and an abrogation of the duty of HEW even though it might bring a net profit of perhaps more than $5 billion by the time they get all of the lead out.
Secretary Kennedy mentioned although the revenue was needed a tax on leaded additives was really an antipollution measure, but I can hardly go along with this logic.
What this recommendation represents, as has been stated to this committee, is a license to pollute. The administration is saying that you may pollute with lead so long as you pay the Government a certain amount. This is a very unfortunate situation and indeed if the administration is intent on earning revenue from pollution it ought to propose taxes on carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbon, mercury, sulfur oxide, phosphates in detergents, and every other form of particulate matter. But it has not done that.
In addition, I think we have faulty logic when we think the petroleum companies are going to pay the tax alone. It will simply be passed on and it will be the drivers who will be paying the taxes.
I also think Secretary Kennedy overlooked a reasonable alternative if they were promoting clean air. Perhaps they ought to come in with a proposal to reduce the tax on unleaded gasoline as an incentive for people to buy it.
I also question the fact that although Mr. Kennedy calls this a proposed tax, an antipollution measure, early estimates of the revenue to be derived far exceed the administration's request for funds to clean our air.
In other words, they want to make a profit on this, not to clean up the air by taxing the gasoline and devoting those funds to clean up the air because the requests nowhere meet that amount of income that would come in.
I think it is encouraging that we have already seen companies representing more than 70 percent of the marketing capacity of this Nation already declare they were developing unleaded fuels and the top companies in size have stated there their intention to manufacture lead-free gasoline.
I know the Treasury sees this as a loss of income but I think the American people look at it as a step at cleaning up the air. I have been told that the economic incentive has already developed not because of any action the Government has taken, but via the free enterprise or competitive system.
I have also been told that Standard of Indiana will produce leadfree gas and will have it in 11,000 stations by the end of this year and in complete general distribution by the end of next year.
I may be overly optimistic but I think the increase in cost for leaded fuel will, after the initial spurt, not be considerably higher than that existing price for regular gasoline.
In summary I am concerned and disappointed that the Government is trying to make profits from pollution. It places in definite conflict between the Departments of IIEW and Treasury, HEW trying to clean up the air in carrying out the mandate of the Clean Air Act, by eliminating lead, and Treasury, trying to add $1.1 billion in the general revenue, to make profit on the pollution problem.
I appreciate the committee allowing me to make these remarks. Mr. Warts. We were delighted to have your remarks. If I follow you, what you are saying is we already have passed a law that gives IIEW the authority and the right to dispose of lead in gasoline, if they see fit, or to bring it down to a reasonable level. You have characterized the administration's proposal solely as a revenue-raising measure rather than as an antipollution measure.
Mr. Rogers. That is correct. It already has that. Mr. Watts. You are saying since they already have the authority why give it to them again?
Nr. ROGERS. Not only that but it will develop a conflict in the administration itself. We gave the Senate this bill on the 21st and we say, "Get the lead out" because it has adverse effects on health. And you have the Department on record before this committee saying it does affect the health and yet Secretary Kennedy comes in and says, “We need the money."
How is it going to be resolved then? Why shouldn't they make the decision as the authority gives them, saying "no lead," rather than allowing lead in gas because we need the revenue? That defeats the purpose of cleaning up the air and I think the American people want the air cleaned up.
I think that is what this Congress is going to do.
Mr. BURLESON. Mr. Rogers, you make a most interesting point when you refer to other pollutants categories. Why not tax those! In testimony before your Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, did you have testimony from the experts as to the effects of other additives to gasoline which may be a greater pollutant and more harmful to human beings than lead?
Mr. ROGERS. Yes; of course that is true. But the catalytic devices can remove those other pollutants. But the life span of the catalytic device is extremely limited if it is leaded gasoline.
So you have to approach it from two ways: By trying to clean up all of the gasoline exhausts with the catalytic devices to take care of any additional additives if you take lead out, or let the lead stay in and pollute the air, or else the catalytic device does not work if you leave the lead in.
I think the automobile and companion oil companies have made the decision-oil is coming out. It is just a question of whether the administration is going to say “We are going to get behind the Clean Air Act and got lead out promptly," or have Treasury come in and say "Don't make that decision, HEW, and let us tax this business."
Well, they are really going to be taxing people, not the oil companies.
Mr. BURLESOX. Do you feel there has been enough scientific evidence presented to your committee to pass on this very complicate question at this time?
Mr. ROGERS. As to whether it should be taken out or not?
Mr. Rogers. Yes; I personally do. I am sure that that viewpoint may not be shared with some, but I feel there is a suflicient amount of the evidence to show we should get it out. And over and above that I think the decision has already been made by the automobile companies.
They are putting out the lower compression engines. All of your major companies have said they are now going into nonleaded gasoline, and the Department of HEW, the Under Secretary testified before this committee that it is a health hazard.
So I think the record shows that lead is coming out. Now as to the timing, passing a tax on lead simply builds a conflict in the administration and says, “Well, we will let the air be a little dirty a little longer if we will get some taxes."
Mr. WATTS. Are there any further questions?
Our next witness is our esteemed colleague, the Honorable Frank N. Ikard.
STATEMENTS OF HON. FRANK N. IKARD, PRESIDENT; AND PETER
N. GAMMELGARD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE
Mr. IKARD. For the record my name is Frank Ikard. I am President of the American Petroleum Institute and I appear here this morning on behalf of the Institute with Mr. Peter N. Gammelgard, who is a senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute and he directs our rather considerable environmental activities.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would ask that Mr. Gammelgard make the statement for the institute.
Mr. WATTS. We are delighted to have you here with him and you may proceed.
Mr. GAMMELGARD. My name is Peter N. Gammelgard. I am senior vice president for public and environmental affairs, American Petroleum Institute.
On behalf of the institute and the Western Oil & Gas Association, I would like to thank the committee for this opportunity to comment on the administration's proposed Clean Air Tax Act of 1970.
The petroleum industry is in complete accord with the administration's announced objective of accelerating progress in the control of air pollution from automobiles. We pledge our continued full cooperation with the automotive industry and the Federal Government in this effort.
I would like to call the committee's attention to the table attached to the copies of this statement. As shown in the table, six petroleum companies are now marketing or soon will market unleaded gasolines. Nine companies are marketing or plan to market low lead fuels—that is, fuels containing half a gram of lead alkyl per gallon as compared with the former national average of 212 grams per gallon.
(The document referred to follows:)
Note: This does not purport to be an all-inclusive list. There may well be other companies which have introduced low-lead or no-lead gasolines which have not come to our attention.
Mr. GAMMELGARD. The automotive companies have announced that all but a few of the 1971 model cars will have engines with reduced compression ratios, designed to operate and on a 91 octane fuelan octane level significantly lower than that of today's "regular" grade gasolines. These 1971 model cars, Detroit claims, will be able to operate on either an unleaded 91 octane gasoline or a low lead 91 octane gasoline.
It should be clear, from the steps already being taken by petroleum companies, that low lead fuels and no lead fuels will be available for these new cars—without Government regulation or special tax incentives.
Some unleaded gasoline of high octane to power present generation automobiles has been available for years in some market areas. In addition, some of the new low lead gasoline will satisfy all but the highest compression ratio engines. We see no way in the near future, however, that enough low lead or unleaded gasoline could be made