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2013-08-08

Smith subpoenas EPA's 'secret science' data

Special to the Courier

Pictured: Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith signed a subpoena, which legally obliges the EPA to provide the requested data to the Committee. This was the first subpoena issued by the SST Committee in over 20 years.





As promised, Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith issued a subpoena to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, August 1, forcing the agency to release the secret science it uses as the basis for costly air regulations.
Over the past two years, the SST Committee has repeatedly requested the data the agency uses to justify virtually every Clean Air Act regulation proposed and finalized by the administration of President Barack Obama. This was the first congressional subpoena the SST Committee has issued in 21 years.
As Smith noted, "In September 2011, the EPA's then-Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy committed to make the data sets available to the committee. Even though Ms. McCarthy now leads the agency, she has yet to provide the promised data to the Committee."
According to Smith, the subpoena could have been avoided with EPA cooperation. "Unfortunately, we've been put in this position by an agency that willfully disregards congressional requests and makes its rules using undisclosed data," he said. "After two years of failing to respond, it's clear that the EPA is not going to give the American people what they deserve - the truth about regulations."
In a prepared statement, Smith chided the EPA for what he regarded as "basing its regulations on secret data."
Smith continued, "By denying the committee's request, the agency prevents Congress from fulfilling its oversight responsibilities and denies the American people the ability to verify EPA's claims. The EPA's lack of cooperation contributes to the suspicion that the data sets do not support the agency's actions. The American people deserve all of the facts and have a right to know whether the EPA is using good science."
The two data sets in question are used to justify major costly new air regulations. As one example, by its own estimates the EPA's proposed limits on ozone will cost taxpayers $90 billion per year, making it the most costly regulation the federal government has ever issued. Some of the data in question is up to 30-years-old.
Over the last two years, the Science Committee has sent six letters to the EPA and other top administration officials. But the administration has refused to substantively respond to the requests. Under the EPA's current process, only a select few who support the EPA's agenda are authorized to access and analyze the data. But this ignores the need for congressional oversight of taxpayer-funded research.
In addition, Smith made clear that any personal health information in the data would be protected and removed before the data is made public. He asserted that ensuring public access to taxpayer-funded data that is used in regulations is good science and good government.