Kristina Baum (Senate - EPW) – 202.224.6176
Donelle Harder (Senate - EPW) – 202.224.1282
Zachary Kurz (House - Science) – 202.225.6371

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Committee, today released a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled, “EPA’s Science Advisory Board: Improved Procedures Needed to Process Congressional Requests for Scientific Advice.” Chairman Smith requested the report in 2014, and Chairman Inhofe joined the request earlier this year.

“Under the Obama Administration, a pattern has emerged where EPA compromises the independence of its science advisors, in part, by limiting the ability for advisors to review critical science and regulatory actions. Today’s GAO report confirms that with respect to the SAB and CASAC, these panels have failed to fully provide the level of scientific advice prescribed by law due to EPA interference. GAO’s findings and recommendations demonstrate yet another reason for SAB reform. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move S. 543, the Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, through committee this Congress,” Inhofe said.

“EPA’s Science Advisory Board was created to provide a meaningful, balanced, and independent assessment of the science that supports regulations. Unfortunately, this vision is not being realized. EPA undermines the Board’s independence and prevents it from providing advice to Congress. At a time when the agency is pursuing the most aggressive regulatory agenda in its 44 year history, it is critical that the Board function as intended. Given the importance of ensuring that Congress and EPA have high quality scientific information, the findings of the GAO are troubling. The GAO found that EPA limited both the SAB and CASAC from conducting full reviews and providing complete scientific advice, as required by law. As a result, the valuable advice of these experts has been wasted. I thank Chairman Inhofe for his efforts to reform the SAB process,” Smith said.

On May 20, 2015, GAO testified before the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, with preliminary findings from the report. Today, Chairmen Inhofe and Smith welcome the GAO’s final report which includes several recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure compliance with the law and improve procedures for processing congressional committee requests to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for advice.

The Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (ERDDAA) established the Science Advisory Board (SAB), to provide the EPA administrator scientific advice. In 1980, ERDDAA was amended to require the SAB also provide scientific advice to designated Congressional Committees when requested. Designated committees include the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Despite the statutory requirement for the SAB to be responsive to Congress, the GAO report confirms that the SAB has not fulfilled this obligation. These findings are critical to Congressional reform of the SAB. In March, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1029, the Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, introduced by Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) with bipartisan support. A companion bill, S. 543, was introduced by Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in February.

The GAO report also identifies concerns with another EPA advisory panel, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), which was established in 1977 Amendments to the Clean Air Act to provide the EPA administrator advice on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Specifically, GAO found that despite a requirement in the Clean Air Act, CASAC has never provided advice on adverse social, economic, or energy effects related to the NAAQS.