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Columbus, Ohio launches Environmental Science Advisory Committee.

In an effort to deal responsibly with the increasing costs of federal environmental mandates, Columbus, Ohio Mayor Gregory Lashutka has initiated the formation of his city's Environmental Science Advisory Committee.

The committee was created in response to a report recently-completed by representatives of Columbus and eight other cities which identifies future environmental expenditures that will be required of some of Ohio's major metropolitan areas.

The committee compiled and submitted data which identified $2,855,409,587 in federal and state environmental compliance costs that will be incurred from 1992 to 2001. If these costs are inflated at an annual rate of four percent, the cumulative total would increase to $3,284,927,345, and at seven percent annual inflation, would be appromimately $3,667,283,888.

The cumulative cost per household for the ten-year period was estimated as high as $3,375 for Columbus citizens for full compliance with all 14 mandates covered by the report. The average cost for the nine Ohio cities was $2,136 per household for the ten-year period.

These costs represent expenditures in 1992 dollars and have not been adjusted for inflation. They reflect compliance with some or all of the 14 specific environmental regulations so, in actuality, the total cost for environmental compliance is significantly understated.

The committee recommended specific actions be taken regarding implementation of new environmental mandates on communities. They are: * environmental legislation and resulting regulation be formulated on a well-founded, peer-review science base; * local governments be able to prioritize their resources to achieve the best utilization of local tax dollar expenditures for achieving the greatest environmental risk reduction; * allow flexibility in environmental legislation for consideration of local environmental conditions and this flexibility should be incorporated as a matter of procedure into the federal and state environmental regulatory process; and * local governments be afforded the opportunity for fuller participation in the federal and state environmental legislative and regulatory process.

ESAC will be responsible for providing independent scientific and engineering advice to the mayor, city council, Environmental Mandate Review Committee and Board of Health. It will function as a peer review panel assessing scientific rationales underlying current and proposed federal and/or state environmental regulations as requested and will function under the auspices of the Columbus Board of Health.

"The City of Columbus is committed to investigating and discovering opportunities to achieve a clean, safe environment that utilizes good science in the creation of realistic environmental standards for Columbus citizens," Lashutka stated.

The committee will consist of a distinguished body of engineers, scientists, educators and other professionals who are recognized in the field. Consultants and other outside technical experts will be available on an "as needed basis."

Edward Hayes, a chemist and vice president of the Ohio State University Office of Research, will serve as chair. According to Hayes, "The citizens of Columbus should be proud that our mayor is taking the lead both locally and at the national level to see that our investments in an environmentally safe habitat are based on the best available research results. In the Columbus community we are fortunate to have the broad spectrum of expertise essential to make such a peer review process work."

The increasing costs of regulatory compliance to Columbus will be substantial by the year 2001--the percentage of the city's budget allocated for environmental compliance will go from 10.6 percent in 1991 to an average of 23.1 percent by the year 2000.

ESAC's subcommittee on Cost/Economics will evaluate the accuracy and scientific basis of cost and financing projections of any proposal submitted to ESAC for review. The Environmental Effects and Health Effects subcommittees will evaluate the accuracy and scientific basis of environmental projections and health information.

As ESAC develops, it will try to establish an ongoing relationship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board of maximize available national and Columbus are scientific resources.

For more information, contact Stephanie Hightower-Leftwich at (614) 645-7671 or Assistant Health Commissioner Michael Pompili at (614) 645-8191.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 19, 1992
Words:664
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