YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Ronald Reagan, declaring air pollution 'substantially controlled,' called Wednesday for rewriting the nation's clean air laws that he said have caused factory shutdowns and job layoffs.
The Republican presidential nominee led reporters through a decaying steel mill to illustrate what he calls one of President Carter's 'missing issues' _ government regulation.
Pointing to the rusty, empty buildings of the sprawling Jones and Laughlin Steel plant site, Reagan said, 'They were closed down for two reasons _ dumping and the EPA.'
Four years ago, Reagan said, the motorcade could not have traveled through the site because 'there would have been too many people working and too much activity.'
'It's enough to make someone very angry,' he said.
In one of the rare extemporaneous speeches of his campaign late Tuesday in Steubenville, Ohio, Reagan delivered a series of highly sarcastic remarks ridiculing the Environmental Protection Agency and its concerns.
He said the Mount St. Helens eruption contained more sulfur dioxide than 10 years of auto emissions and 'more things of that kind that people are so concerned about;' that 'some doctors' are investigating whether nitrogen oxides that give the Smokey Mountains their name 'might be beneficial to tubercular patients,' and that if EPA had its way 'you and I would have to live in rabbit holes or birds' nests.'
And in what aides called an anecdote 'perhaps to amuse people,' he said prevailing winds blowing over natural oil leakage into the Santa Barbara, Calif., channel were advertised at the turn of the century as having 'purified the air and prevented the spread of infectious diseases.'
In a statement handed out by aides before the Youngstown appearance Wednesday, Reagan said government regulations must not be allowed to 'flourish for their own sake.'
As an example, he said, 'air pollution has been substantially controlled' and the standards the United States is using today are based on scientific evidence established in 1970. Since then new evidence has become available, he said, and the regulations should be reviewed.
The 1970 rules, he said, have 'helped force factories to shut down and cost workers their jobs.'
Reagan proposed six steps that 'will help tremendously to reduce the burden of federal regulation.'
They included giving Congress and the president greater authority to veto executive agency regulations, writing built-in expiration dates or regulations, requiring cost-benefit analysis of all proposed rules, permitting flexible performance standards and reviewing regulations in light of new scientific or technical knowledge.
'Mr. Carter has become the biggest regulator in history,' Reagan said. 'Every dollar spent to comply with federal regulations is a dollar that is not available for investing in new job-creating machinery and for hiring new workers.'