Following an investigation by the Republican staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works into the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) science panels on ozone and particulate matter, Senator Inhofe called for the Obama EPA to put a halt to its plan to reconsider the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. EPA is expected to announce within days its decision to tighten the ozone NAAQS, which is largely based on the recommendations of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC). Yet findings from a new Senate investigation put the impartiality of CASAC in question.
"Today I am calling on the Obama-EPA to halt its plan to move forward with the reconsideration of the ozone standard," Senator Inhofe said. "EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly said that she is basing her decision on the recommendations of CASAC. Yet an investigation by my staff has uncovered an apparent lack of impartiality and financial conflicts of interest among the members of EPA's science advisory panels. EPA is clearly politicizing the science, all in the name of an environmental activism that will destroy jobs. This further undermines the scientific integrity of the Obama Administration, and in particular, the EPA.
"These findings cannot be taken lightly: EPA estimates that the cost of compliance for the ozone standard could be $90 billion a year, making it the most expensive environmental regulation in history. Additional studies have projected that the rule could cost upwards of a trillion dollars and destroy 7.4 million jobs. With such an enormous price tag and so many jobs at stake, it is absolutely unacceptable for this rule to be based on dubious science.
"President Obama does not have to go through with this: his EPA is bound neither by science nor law to revise this standard. In 2008, the Bush EPA tightened the standard significantly from 0.084 ppm to 0.075 ppm, and state and local communities are already making great strides in air quality as they work to meet that standard. Instead of acknowledging this progress, EPA is showing its decision to be purely political by further tightening the standard in order to appease the environmental left.
"Given that the Obama EPA is not obligated to act and is apparently basing its rulemaking on the advice of those who lack scientific objectivity, the Agency is showing itself to be bent on creating needless economic pain, killing jobs and stifling economic growth at a time when our nation can least afford it. EPA should halt this agenda at once and make it a priority to restore the balance between environmental progress and economic growth."
Senator Inhofe sent a letter to the Inspector General of the EPA Arthur A. Elkins asking him to investigate further whether EPA's management of two Clean Air Act Advisory Committees has resulted in panels that lack impartiality and serve as a "rubber stamp" of EPA's policy objectives, circumventing both the law and Administration policy. Importantly, these committees played a key role in the advisory process for the pending tightening of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter (PM). Senator Inhofe has requested that the EPA IG report back to Congress with its findings by September 19, 2011.
The investigation by EPW Republicans of EPA's management of its advisory committees found:
- Lack of Impartiality: EPA has violated its own Peer Review Handbook by selecting members who have publicly taken sides on the issues in question and thus lack the required impartiality. In direct conflict with the recommendations of the National Academies, EPA has also repeatedly asked authors of key studies to opine on their own work by including them on panels that are reviewing reports based on their research.
- Failure to Balance Perspectives: EPA has also violated the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by failing to assure the resulting panels are balanced in terms of the viewpoints presented. In the two cases examined, no experts with publications supporting a contrary view were selected to balance the 30 to 40 percent of the members included on the panels who have taken public positions.
- Failure to Rotate Members: EPA has disregarded Administration policy to rotate membership on standing panels to avoid creating "regulars". On key panels, members are now serving 12 year terms.
- Financial Conflict of Interest: EPA has repeatedly selected panel members who are benefiting from millions of dollars in EPA research grants, creating both the appearance and likelihood of a conflict of interest.
Senator Inhofe welcomed a growing agreement expressed at Tuesday's EPW hearing among members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regarding the recommendations of the near-term task force.
"I commend the growing support among NRC Commissioners for implementing the task-force's recommendations in a way that realizes the need to move quickly while also taking the time to ensure that we get this right," Senator Inhofe said. "As today's hearing clearly showed, there is a strong agreement that we need to learn the right lessons from the Fukushima accident so that regulatory changes achieve the maximum safety benefits. The Commissioners' votes strike the right balance.
"In order to move forward as quickly as possible, I call on Chairman Jaczko to vote on the report immediately so that the NRC can turns its attention to a more reasonable and effective approach."
Wall Street Journal Editorial
The Cost of Lisa Jackson
Why the EPA doesn't consider job losses when it creates new rules
August 3, 2011
The White House lookback on "excessive" regulation has concluded and-breaking news-there's more work left to do. So let's commend those in Congress trying to force the Administration to conduct a credible cost-benefit test.
Last month the House Energy Committee passed a bill that reforms the Environmental Protection Agency's process for creating new rules and mandates, which it has been doing with a special fervor under administrator Lisa Jackson. Known by the acronym the Train Act, the bill would help expose some of the true costs that the agency is trying to hide.
One major improvement is that the Train Act broadens the definition of costs. Under the status quo, the EPA can define almost anything as a benefit, and does. But the EPA rarely considers more tangible economic consequences, like its effects on employment, the price and reliability of energy, or the competitiveness of U.S. companies.
The Train Act would also require the EPA at least to gesture at the costs of its larger agenda. The agency is now tightening nearly every eco-regulation in existence, abusing in particular traditional air pollutant laws to shut down coal-fired power plants. This cluster of overlapping rules will cause far more cumulative damage than merely one or another rule would by itself.
A utility, for instance, might be able to comply with a single new rule, but under the EPA firehose it might be forced to retire some of its operations. Beyond the direct costs to the utility, plant closures would lead to job losses and higher prices for consumers and business, with their own knock-on effects.
This cost-benefit bias may explain why Ms. Jackson could claim at a "green jobs" conference in February that under the Clean Air Act, "For every $1 we have spent, we have gotten $40 of benefits in return. So you can say what you want about EPA's business sense. We know how to get a return on our investment."
Ponder that insight into the bureaucratic mind. What Ms. Jackson means by "spent" are merely the direct costs that she or her predecessors have imposed on the private economy. Ms. Jackson went on to call the EPA "one of the most economically successful programs in American history." No wonder her EPA won't do genuine cost-benefit analysis. She thinks all regulatory costs are benefits. This certainly helps explain the weak recovery.
The Train Act is not a cure-all, and one weakness is that it applies only to the EPA, rather than applying the same cost-benefit approach across the government. But it does provide more information about regulation. Republican sponsor John Sullivan of Oklahoma has worked to build support among moderate Democrats; the bill passed committee 33 to 13, with five Democratic votes.
In a recent Joan of Arc interview with the New York Times, Ms. Jackson said that "The only thing worse than no EPA is an EPA that exists and doesn't do its job." Try that one on the people who don't have a job because of Ms. Jackson's grandiose view of hers.
Detroit News Editorial
New ozone regulations should wait for science
EPA is pushing to put tighter mandates in place before completing its own scientific research
August 4, 2011
In a rare, if temporary, victory of pragmatism over ideology, the Environmental Protection Agency decided not to press ahead with the release of new smog standards. At least for now.
The agency had indicated the new regulations would be issued recently, despite pleas from local communities and businesses to wait until the EPA completes its own scientific review of ozone emissions in 2013.
That seems a reasonable request. Mandates that threaten to choke the economy ought to at least be based on the most complete scientific analysis available. A deep assessment of the economic impact would be welcome as well.
But the EPA makes policies as much on assumption as it does on science, and has been oblivious to the cost and consequence of its regulations. It most recently pushed through tighter emissions standards for coal-fired power plants despite warnings that it would drive up energy costs and limit production capacity, and over the expressed objection of Congress.
The tougher air quality standards for ozone would reduce allowable emissions to a level that would put 85 percent of the counties currently monitored by the EPA in "nonattainment status." That would set in motion an array of federal and state mechanisms to limit the emissions. Most of those steps involve throttling industry.
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, now chief executive of the Business Roundtable, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that air quality has been improving without the tighter mandates, and urged President Barack Obama to delay a decision on implementation until after the scientific studies are complete.
Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris sent a letter to the White House warning the new standards would seriously impede economic growth and job creation.
A county ruled to be in non-attainment would have difficulty attracting new investment, particularly in manufacturing industries, and would have to put limits on expansion of existing businesses.
Last week, the EPA said it would allow its self-imposed July 20 deadline to pass. But perhaps not for long. A spokesman said the rules would be finalized "shortly."
Imposing regulations that have the real possibility of slowing the economic recovery without waiting for its own scientific research reveals a stunning arrogance and indifference on the part of the EPA.
The expressed goal of the president is to get the economy moving and Americans back to work. Agencies of the federal government should not be working against that mission.
There's a narrow window of opportunity to return the ozone regulatory process to a more rational timetable. Obama should insist that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wait for the science before imposing regulations that might do little to improve air quality, but could do great damage to the economy.
In the News...Rasmussen Reports: 69 Percent Say Its Likely Scientists Have Falsified Global Warming Research
69% Say It's Likely Scientists Have Falsified Global Warming Research
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
The debate over global warming has intensified in recent weeks after a new NASA study was interpreted by skeptics to reveal that global warming is not man-made. While a majority of Americans nationwide continue to acknowledge significant disagreement about global warming in the scientific community, most go even further to say some scientists falsify data to support their own beliefs.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it's at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don't think it's likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) say it's Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here .)
The number of adults who say it's likely scientists have falsified data is up 10 points from December 2009 .
Fifty-seven percent (57%) believe there is significant disagreement within the scientific community on global warming, up five points from late 2009. One in four (25%) believes scientists agree on global warming. Another 18% aren't sure.
Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party feel stronger than Democrats that some scientists have falsified data to support their global warming theories, but 51% of Democrats also agree.
Men are more likely than women to believe some scientists have put out false information on the issue.
Democrats are more likely to support immediate action on global warming compared to those from other party affiliations.
The national survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on July 29-30, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC . See methodology .
Voters have been almost evenly divided on whether human activity or long-term planetary trends are to blame for global warming since May of last year .
Regardless of the cause of global warming, adults remain divided on whether to take action or not. While 40% believe Americans should take immediate action to stop global warming, 42% suggest waiting a few years. Americans were just as divided back in February 2009 .
But 47% now believe the media makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is, down from 54% in February 2009 . Nineteen percent (19%) say it makes the situation look better than reality, while the same percentage (19%) thinks the media presents an accurate picture of global warming. Another 15% are undecided.
Out of three scenarios, 30% of Americans say a period of dangerous global warming is likely to occur, while just four percent (4%) say a dangerous ice age is more likely. Half of adults (50%) say something in between is most likely to happen. Another 16% are not sure. These findings are little changed from past surveys.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) are following news stories on global warming at least somewhat closely, while 32% are not.
While a majority of U.S. voters still feel discovering new sources of energy is more important than reducing energy consumption, the number who feel this way has fallen to a new low. Voters also continue to believe there's a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection .
An overwhelming majority of voters (72%) also believe that the United States is not doing enough to develop alternative sources of energy .
But Americans are no more enthusiastic than they were a year ago about buying a car that runs on alternative fuel.