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Smith to EPA - release secret data behind regs

Congressman Lamar Smith - Special to the Courier

Rep. Lamar Smith has long charged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with using "junk science" to justify imposing draconian regulations on businesses that contribute to this nation's sluggish economy. Now that he's chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Smith is perfectly positioned to actually do something about his charge.

In a letter dated Wednesday, June 12, he demanded that EPA Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe release data underpinning costly new air quality rules.

On March 4, 2013, Smith wrote to Gina McCarthy, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation and President Barack Obama's nominee to become the next administrator, requesting the release of underlying data that EPA has relied on to support multiple air regulations. Smith's most recent letter criticizes the fact that EPA has failed to provide the data and continues to rely on it for new regulations even after the National Research Council has cautioned against using them in its 2004 report.

In that report, the NCR concluded that updates of the two cohorts alone "would be of little use for decision making" due to the outdated nature of the information and dwindling relevance to today's population and risk profile. Since the time the data was collected, smoking has decreased and education levels have increased. Additionally, improved treatments for hypertension and cholesterol have contributed to reductions in cardiovascular mortality rates in the United States.

"Throughout this process, EPA has responded to our questions in a cavalier manner, hoping perhaps we were not reading the NRC reports carefully or were simply unaware of the law or guidance governing data access," Smith wrote. "Current law and OMB guidance are clear in requiring EPA to obtain and release the data. The EPA's continued refusal to comply with this committee's oversight request undermines the credibility of its regulations."

Smith's letter continued, "EPA has projected that its upcoming ozone standard will be the most costly environmental regulation in US history. Working families will bear these costs. They have a right to know what scientific data supports EPA's claims."

To avoid formal committee action, Smith urged EPA to respond by Monday, July 8.