Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
Inhofe Welcomes EPA Inspector General's Office Investigation Into EPA's Scientific Process
Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, welcomed the news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has agreed to his request to investigate EPA's handling of two advisory committees that have shown a troubling lack of impartiality: the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis (ACCACA).
Last year, the Republican Environment and Public Works Committee staff uncovered specific areas of concern with EPA's Clean Air Act Advisory Committees. As a result, Senator Inhofe sent a letter to the Inspector General of the EPA Arthur A. Elkins in August asking that the OIG investigate these concerns. Importantly, these committees played a key role in the advisory process for the tightening of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter (PM). Of course, the NAAQS for ozone were withdrawn by President Obama, in part, due to concerns over scientific integrity.
"I am pleased that the EPA IG has agreed to my request to investigate the serious problems that have been uncovered regarding EPA's handling of scientific information and its decision-making process," Senator Inhofe said. "Specifically, the EPA IG will examine EPA's management of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee and the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, which have shown a blatant lack of impartiality, essentially serving as a rubber stamp for EPA's job-killing agenda. Fortunately, the EPA IG will look into the five areas that I have identified as the most crucial: 1) balance of committee view points and perspectives, 2) potential conflicts of interest, 3) appearance of impartiality, 4) rotation of members, and 5) peer review.
"The Obama EPA has shown time and time again that the scientific foundation of its regulatory agenda is not sound. I first requested this investigation due to scientific integrity concerns regarding EPA's plan to tighten ozone standards. Of course, President Obama withdrew those standards, and one of the reasons was that the economic and scientific analyses underpinning the decision were deficient. Then there was the OIG report from last September, which found that EPA cut corners and short-circuited the required peer review process for its December 2009 endangerment finding, which is the basis for EPA's plan to regulate greenhouse gases; in January, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirmed that EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program - which EPA acknowledges is the 'scientific foundation for decisions' - is flawed. And the list goes on, showing that EPA has a dangerous tendency only to consider science that bolsters its political goals.
"Americans can't afford for EPA to play politics with science as our economy struggles to recover. EPA's greenhouse gas regulations alone will cost the American people around $300-$400 billion a year - and this is second only to the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Utility MACT) rule, which will cost $90 billion a year to comply. These are just the most expensive of the Obama EPA's onslaught of regulations that will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and raise electricity and gas prices even higher.
"I hope this IG report will help to hold EPA accountable - the best outcome would be if it finally instills a sense of urgency for EPA to reform its ways."
This IG investigation will build on the specific areas of concern uncovered by the Republican Environment and Public Works Committee staff. These include:
- Lack of Impartiality: EPA has violated its own Peer Review Handbook by selecting members who have publicly taken sides on the issues in question and thus lack the required impartiality. In direct conflict with the recommendations of the National Academies, EPA has also repeatedly asked authors of key studies to opine on their own work by including them on panels that are reviewing reports based on their research.
- Failure to Balance Perspectives: EPA has also violated the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by failing to assure the resulting panels are balanced in terms of the viewpoints presented. In the two cases examined, no experts with publications supporting a contrary view were selected to balance the 30 to 40 percent of the members included on the panels who have taken public positions.
- Failure to Rotate Members: EPA has disregarded Administration policy to rotate membership on standing panels to avoid creating "regulars". On key panels, members are now serving 12 year terms.
- Financial Conflict of Interest: EPA has repeatedly selected panel members who are benefiting from millions of dollars in EPA research grants, creating both the appearance and likelihood of a conflict of interest.