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2015-04-02

Smith subpoenas EPA, announces roundtable

Special to the Courier

Congressman Lamar Smith last week announced he is subpoenaing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Smith has led recent efforts to increase transparency and accountability at the EPA; fight costly new EPA ozone regulations; and put a check on the agency's plans for sweeping new water rules.
Smith also announced a public event with special guest Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, "Reining in the EPA: A Regulation Roundtable." The event will be held from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, Wednesday, April 8, at the Cailloux Theater, 910 Main Street, in Kerrville.
Smith issued the subpoena last week after the agency refused to hand over information related to almost 6,000 deleted text messages linked to the agency's top official, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
This is not the first time the agency has come under fire for lack of openness. In 2012, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was caught using a fake email address alias, and previously, Smith has subpoenaed the agency for failure to turn over information related to costly ozone regulations.
On March 2, 2015, a federal court issued an opinion raising concerns about the agency's process for responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and calling the EPA's handling of a 2012 FOIA request "suspicious." And the Center for Effective Government gave the EPA a grade of "D" in its most recent report for poor performance in giving access to information.
"As chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that agencies like the EPA are operating in the most efficient, effective, and accountable manner possible," Smith said. "We all want clean air and clean water. Yet the EPA has avoided transparency at every turn, while attempting to impose costly regulations on Americans."
He continued, "The EPA's pattern of withholding, concealing and possibly destroying records must come to an end. The American people deserve an open and honest government. That is why I am subpoenaing the EPA, and that is why I am hosting the Regulation Roundtable in Kerrville on April 8."
Smith invited Texans to join him and Miller at this event to share their stories and hear how Smith and fellow legislators are working at the local, state and federal level to rein in the EPA's overreach.
"We need policies that serve the taxpayer, not an extreme political agenda," Smith concluded.
For his part, Miller applauded Smith for calling this regulation roundtable. "As Texans, we must stand together to stop EPA from enacting rules to unnecessarily regulate certain waters on our farms and ranches," Miller said.
"This overreach will result in a total erosion of state and individual property rights. It will cripple our economy and damage the free enterprise system. Plus, it will burden our farmers, ranchers and private landowners with undue hardship.
"Texans understand that clean water is important. Farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists and best stewards of the land. That's how they earn their livelihood, and they know how to protect the land far better than some bureaucrats in Washington. I look forward to hearing from Texans in the Hill Country on how we can build a coalition to protect our freedoms."
Earlier this month, the House approved Smith's Secret Science Reform Act to increase transparency and accountability at the EPA. Smith's legislation would require the EPA to base all regulations on scientific data that is open to the public - something the agency has refused to do up to this point.
A 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be public. Last year, Smith exposed extensive maps of U.S. waters and wetlands that the EPA commissioned - and tried to keep hidden - while working to update its controversial "Waters of the United States" Rule.