Senator James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Full Committee and Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health joint hearing entitled, “Oversight Hearing on the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act.”
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 2:30 p.m.
Thank you, Chairman Boxer and Chairman Lautenberg, for holding this oversight hearing on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
For over 30 years, TSCA has provided a scientifically sound, risk-based framework for reporting, testing, tracking, and restricting chemical substances and mixtures. This is the first of several hearings to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the law, and I welcome this debate.
We will hear testimony today from federal witnesses covering how TSCA could be improved, the areas where EPA could do better, and how the science and scope of chemical review has evolved over the years. However, in addition, I encourage you to discuss ways in which TSCA currently succeeds in protecting human health and the environment.
Senator Lautenberg has, in previous years, introduced several versions of the “Kids Safe Chemicals Act.” The legislation would eliminate the current risk-based review system under TSCA and force EPA to use the precautionary principle – a regulatory principle that I adamantly oppose. Senator Lautenberg has indicated that he will again introduce legislation to amend TSCA. In the interest of moving balanced, effective TSCA reform legislation, I urge you, Senator, to introduce a bill driven by risk-based analysis rather than the precautionary principle.
EPA, NGOs, and industry have recently issued statements supporting changes to TSCA, along with their principles on how the law should be amended. Some of these principles seem reasonable to me, while others do not. Some of the ideas do not require new legislative authority and could be accomplished under TSCA by regulatory changes. For the record, I believe that any changes to TSCA - statutory or regulatory - must adhere to the following fundamental principles:
- Reviews must use data and methods based on the best available science and risk-based assessment.
- Reviews must include cost-benefit considerations for the private-sector and consumers.
- Processes must protect proprietary business information, as well as information that should be protected for security reasons.
- Procedures should prioritize reviews for existing chemicals.
- Processes must not include any provision that encourages litigation or citizen suits.
- Reviews must not include any provisions that compel product substitution by commercial interests or consumers.
Following these principles, I believe we can protect public health and the environment while safeguarding jobs and the economy. With that, I look forward to hearing from the federal representatives here today on this important topic.
Before I close, I want to follow up on a letter I sent you yesterday, Madame Chairman, requesting hearings on what is now colloquially referred to as ‘ClimateGate’. Whatever one’s position on the science of global warming—and, Madame Chairman, I think you know mine—one cannot deny that the emails raise fundamental questions concerning, among other things, transparency and openness in science, especially taxpayer-funded science.
What do I mean? Well, in addition to apparent attempts to manipulate data and vilify scientists with opposing viewpoints, there is evidence that some of the world’s preeminent scientists, who receive or have received taxpayer-funded grants, evaded laws requiring information disclosure, including the Freedom of Information Act.
Not only is this a potential violation of law, but it violates a fundamental principle of the scientific method: that is, put everything on the table and allow anyone so inclined to attack it. If research sustains the attack, then the researcher, the scientific community, and the taxpayer can rightly have confidence that the conclusions are sound. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Madame Chairman, as I stated in my letter, for the taxpayer’s sake, let’s look at this controversy, from top to bottom. It has already forced Phil Jones, the head of the UK’s Climatic Research Unit to step aside temporarily. So please join me in calling on the Obama Administration and the IPCC not only to investigate this matter, but to release all of the data in question, to ensure that taxpayer-funded research is conducted according to the highest legal, ethical, and professional standards.