Hearings - Statement
 
Statement of John Barrasso
Hearing: Full Committee and Subcommittee on Oversight joint hearing entitled, “Scientific Integrity and Transparency Reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Madame Chairman,
I am pleased to have this hearing on scientific integrity and transparency. 
Politics should never trump science.  Every decision should be made above board, in the light of day. That is why I am so concerned about recent actions with this Administration. I am concerned about the shadow cabinet position of Energy and Climate Czar. This vague position “coordinates” energy and climate change policy in the cabinet. This person is not confirmed by the Senate. How the EPA Administrator and the Czar work together remains highly ambiguous. The person appointed to this post is Carol Bronwer. Browner, coincidently, was the EPA Director under President Clinton. By appointing Browner, the Administration now has two EPA Directors, one confirmed by Congress, the other not. One accountable to Congress, the other not. Concerns were expressed about the impact Browner would have in this new post. 
An opinion piece was written in December of last year in the D.C. Examiner entitled “EPA needs new chief who respects science, not Carol Browner.” I would ask that the piece be added to the record. The piece quoted Browner as saying “it is very important for the next Administration to restore the role and independence of science in decision making.” But the columnist goes on to state “Browner was notorious for ignoring scientific analysis unless it supported her agenda.” She backed up this statement by citing a few examples.
She stated that “Browner ordered Virginia to reduce the amount of ambient nitrogen oxide, not because levels were anywhere near dangerous, but because that was the only pollutant that had not declined in the past 25 years.” She stated that that Browner proposed banning chlorine, used as a disinfectant in 98 percent of municipal water treatment, “in the absence of any evidence that chlorine leads to cancer or birth defects.”  Indeed, the author points out that Peru was suing the United States for classifying chlorine as a possible carcinogen “because then Peru removed chorine from its water supply, and the resulting cholera epidemic killed thousands.” She also cited Browner’s attempt to get the Food and Drug Administration to ban anti-asthma inhalers because the EPA “considered it more important to get rid of devices that release trace amounts of chlorofluorcarbons than to allow 30 million Americans to breathe easily.” She stated “public outcry, not science, caused the EPA to back off.” These are just a few examples in a larger column that cites many more.
This is just one source, but it certainly raises serious concerns that might have been discussed had the Senate had the opportunity to confirm Mrs. Browner. The Czar positions that the Obama Administration has created seem to be designed to not be transparent.  We won’t ever know whether or not politics is trumping science because we can’t get the Czar to come here and testify. Everything will be done in secret, behind closed doors, out of the view of the American people.We need not look much farther than Energy and Climate Czar Browner’s actions over the last few months. 
The New York Times ran an article in May entitled “Vow of silence key to White House-California Fuel Economy Talks.” The article stated that there was a simple rule for negotiations between the White House and California on vehicle fuel economy – “Put nothing in writing.” Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, stated that Browner “quietly orchestrated private discussions from the White House with auto industry officials.” The paper said Nichols and Browner “decided to keep their discussions as quiet as possible, holding no group meetings and taking care to not leak updates to the press.” Nichols was quoted as saying “We put nothing in writing, ever.” This is unacceptable Madame Chairman. 
How are we, the oversight committee, able to do our job with Administration officials putting nothing in writing, holding secret meetings in the dark of night without other officials present. All of this occurring outside the prying eyes of the people. This is not transparency. This is not good government. This threatens scientific integrity.
This committee should hold hearings to investigate the role of the Energy and Climate Czar.  This has been a long standing verbal request of mine that has not yet been granted by the Majority. We need officials in government that are accountable.  We should shed light on the practice of hidden meetings, and secret agendas. It is the job of this committee to see that happens.
I yield my time.  Thank you Madame Chairman.
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