Thank you, Mr. Johnson, for your 24 years of dedicated service to an important agency. I find it encouraging that in a time where so many challenging and controversial environmental issues confront us, the President has nominated a respected scientist and career employee to be the next Administrator.
Mr. Johnson, I commend you for stating in your testimony the importance of basing Agency decisions on the best available scientific information, and on developing rules through an “open and transparent decision-making process.” I trust that as a scientist, you appreciate the importance of those words. The American public needs to know that the decisions the Agency makes are based, above all, on good science.
Unfortunately, several members of this Committee share my concern that in recent years, science has taken a back seat in the decision-making process at EPA. We are not the only ones who hold this view. As you know, in February of last year a group of over 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates sent an open letter to President Bush criticizing the recent politicization of science-based decision-making.
While there are many considerations that affect decisions, in recent years, science has not only been neglected or ignored, but even worse, has been selectively applied to support pre-determined conclusions. I fully expect you to uphold the ideals that you state in your testimony; in my interactions with you thus far, you have given me hope that you will do so.
Your emphasis on science further gives me confidence that you will apply this principle retroactively to recent Agency decisions where the scientific basis has been questioned. Specifically, I would like you to re-examine the Clean Air Mercury Rule. I am not convinced that the principles of good science were consistently applied in the development of this rule, concerns that were repeated by the GAO and EPA Inspector General in their recent reports.
I trust that once you begin your duties as Administrator, you will make it your highest priority to re-examine the science informing this decision, and specifically examine the Harvard study that the EPA funded yet ignored in development of its rule. And if you find, as I expect you will, that the science supports a much lower caps on mercury emissions in this country, I expect you to revise your ruling. I and many of my colleagues are convinced that lower emissions limits are needed to adequately protect human health and the environment, and that the technology exists to achieve them much sooner than 2018.
In confirming your nomination, we will be telling this nation that we have given your our trust - trust that you will set aside partisan political considerations and make the best decisions, based on the best science, for the health of our environment, and for the health of our citizens. This is a tremendous responsibility. I have confidence that as a scientist, you will approach this position with the integrity and dedication you have demonstrated throughout your career at EPA, and I wish you well in meeting this challenge.