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ICYMI: U.S. Chamber Lauds Vitter's "Big Win for Greater Transparency and Accountability"
July 10, 2013

Yesterday, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced major agreements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding 5 transparency requests EPW Republicans have been demanding throughout the Gina McCarthy nomination process. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls this a "big win." Click here to read more about the EPA's agreements to be more transparent.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Free Enterprise

Vitter Scores Big Win for Greater Transparency and Accountability
By Bill Kovacs | July 9, 2013

Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who serves as ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), today said that the EPA has made significant progress on five transparency requests that Republican members of the EPW have demanded, which are tied to the nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead to the EPA.

The U.S. Chamber congratulates Senator Vitter for his strong leadership in obtaining commitments from the EPA that will make it a more transparent and accountable agency.

According to Vitter's office, the EPA has committed to the following:

FOIA - the EPA agreed to mandate the re-training of the 17,000+ EPA workforce as well committing to issuing new guidance on records maintenance and use of personal email accounts pursuant to and upon completion of the audit by the Inspector General.

FOIA re-training should prove helpful in allowing the EPA to respond in a timely and sufficient manner to requests from the American people, and organizations like the Chamber. After submitting a FOIA request in September of last year on data that EPA was mandated under law to produce, the Chamber was told repeatedly that more time was needed, the FOIA request was lost, and ultimately - ten months later - that the data couldn't be found. We hope that re-training will help the agency to be more transparent and responsive in managing information requests with all interested parties.

Scientific Data (relied on by EPA in revising major air regulations) - EPA has initiated the process of obtaining the requested scientific information, as well as reaching out to relevant institutions for information on how to de-identify and code personally identifying information that may be in any of the data. For the first time we should be able to determine if there is any way of independently re-analyzing the science and benefits claims for a suite of major air regulations.

This data is the foundation for most of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards' (NAAQS) health effects, and this commitment from EPA will make a critical difference to scientists who must evaluate the health benefits of new NAAQS standards.

Economic Analysis - EPA is launching a process to convene an independent panel of economic experts with experience in whole economy modeling at the macro and micro level to review EPA's modeling and the agency's ability to measure full regulatory impacts, and to make recommendations to the agency.

The Chamber released a report in February, conducted by NERA Consulting, revealing significant flaws in EPA's current regulatory impact analyses because in many cases the agency either ignored impacts on employment or used a model that considered only part of the potential overall impacts of compliance on multiple industries. The report concluded that the better approach for assessment of the overall economic and employment impacts of rules with large economy-wide costs is to model the impact of regulation compliance cost through a "whole-economy" model. This approach takes into account the cascading effects of a regulatory change across interconnected industries and markets nationwide.

Sue and Settle - To help resolve some of the challenges with lack of public input in closed-door settlement agreements, otherwise referred to as "sue and settle", EPA will publish on two websites the Notices of Intent to Sue (NOI) and Petitions for Rulemaking (PFR) upon receipt. Those websites can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/petitions-rulemaking and http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.

The Chamber recently found at least 60 different occasions between 2009 and 2012 where EPA entered into sue and settle agreements with interest groups. These settlements directly resulted in EPA agreeing to propose more than 100 new regulations, many of which would impose tens of millions of dollars, or even billions, in compliance costs. A troubling lack of transparency means that the sue and settle process is increasingly being used as a technique to shape agencies' regulatory agendas, without input from the public or the regulated community. Publishing these NOIs and PFRs online will help ensure that the federal rulemaking process is governed by principles of open government.

We commend Sen. Vitter for working with the EPA to enact changes that will benefit the American people and lead to greater public participation and accountability.

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