Democrats’ Political Science Hypocrisy
May 6, 2008
Democrats’ Political Science Hypocrisy
Senate Democrats claimed today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “foot-dragging” when it comes to deciding whether or not to regulate perchlorate. The latest political posturing occurred during todays EPW Committee hearing entitled “Perchlorate and TCE in Water.” Legislation discussed at today hearing is designed to circumvent the EPA’s regulatory process. Democrats seem to believe that the political process, not the scientific process, should decide what gets regulated and when.
FACT: In circumventing the EPA regulatory process, Democrats would limit public comment and review as well as force EPA to accept scientific findings without the opportunity to weigh important science and data collected over the past several years by the EPA, FDA, CDC, and NAS.
There is a better way to govern – as Congress concluded in 1996. Under leadership of Chairman Chaffee and Ranking Member Baucus, Congress was successful in amending the Safe Drinking Water Act in such a way as to force the EPA to set standards if the contaminants “have known health effects,” are “known to occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern,” and will provide EPA "the meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by a public water system.”
At today’s hearing, Mike Baker from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency testified on behalf of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators about the current process and the concern of legislating contaminants rather than following the process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators are responsible for carrying out the Safe Drinking Water Act and the subsequent regulations and programs enacted to help safeguard the quality of America’s drinking water.
Baker stated in his opening statement today that:
“An underlying tenant of the Act, we believe, is that environmental and public health standard-setting and review should be driven by sound science…”
“…as a general matter, we believe the science-based decision-making processes of the Act should be allowed to function as envisioned. We are concerned about the precedent of using legislative action that supersedes the provisions of the statute for particular contaminants and contaminant categories…”
“Unless a balanced, rational, and transparent approach is used, we’re concerned that EPA will jump from one contaminant to another -- based on media and political attention -- rather than on the potential for meaningful public health gains.”
The discussion of the politicization of the science couldn’t be timed any better, considering Democrats will hold another hearing this week taking aim at the Bush Administration for politicizing science. As Senator Bond states in his opening statement from today’s hearing, that before Democrats throw stones tomorrow, they should examine the glass house they are living in today. Bond states:
“Madame Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. This hearing allows us to examine the politicization of environmental protection, attempts to roll back environmental law and the disregard of scientific study. Some may think that I am one day early. That is the goal of tomorrow’s hearing as I understand it. However, I would say that before stones are thrown tomorrow, we should examine the glass house some are living in today. Part of the purpose of this hearing is to establish the need for a bill currently before the Senate, S. 150. That legislation would require EPA to issue regulations on perchlorate levels in drinking water. Sponsors of this legislation are well meaning. They have the best interests of their constituents at heart, but they fail to acknowledge that their effort is the very definition of political regulation. It is politicians here in the Senate dictating the outcome of EPA’s environmental decisionmaking.”
Sen. Bond then shows illustrates how Democrats pick and choose their science.
“The Safe Drinking Water Act now includes a specific process designed to protect public health. The law specifically requires risk assessment and the use of science in decisionmaking. Under the law, the Administrator must present information to the public and conduct a health risk reduction and cost analysis. But advocates would sweep that environmental law aside and go straight to the conclusion they favor. Apparently, rolling back environmental laws are ok with them if and when they choose. This effort also includes a minimization of the work of the National Academy of Sciences. Witnesses will tell us today why we should not follow the natural conclusions of an NAS study on perchlorate. But how many times have we heard charges of heeding the advice of political figures instead of peer reviewed science? Indeed, two weeks ago, an NAS study by the National Research Council was heralded when it determined that short-term exposure to ozone is likely to cause premature death in some cases. Two weeks later when the NAS is not so helpful, it becomes an inconvenient truth to be minimized or discounted.”
The inconvenient fact for Senate Democrats is that today's hearing highlighted their record of meddling in the scientific process.