Inhofe Questions EPA Process for Selecting Air Advisors
WASHINGTON – U.S. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), questioning EPA’s process for selecting members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). In the letter, Inhofe raises several concerns regarding the lack of transparency during the member selection process and the composition of the panel, which fails to rotate and recruit experts with fresh perspectives and includes members with potential financial conflicts of interest.
In the letter, Inhofe says, “I have observed EPA, under the Obama Administration, cherry-picking the same allies to serve on this advisory committee and its subcommittees at the expense of having an open and robust process for selecting external advisors.”
“The majority of CASAC members have also received considerable financial support from EPA, which calls into question their independence and therefore the integrity of the overall panel,” Inhofe continues.
“For the newly appointed panel this conflict is on full display—six of the seven members have received a total of $119,217,008 in EPA research grants,” Inhofe says.
Inhofe concludes, “As evidenced by EPA’s newly appointed CASAC members, this misguided and opaque process calls for renewed Congressional oversight.”
CASAC was established under the Clean Air Act to provide independent expert advice to the EPA Administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). As such, members of CASAC play a critical role in shaping the NAAQS program.
On February 19, 2014, Sens. Inhofe and Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter to Arthur Elkins, EPA’s Inspector General (IG), regarding weaknesses in the 2013 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on CASAC. Specifically, Inhofe and Vitter raised concerns about the scope of the review, findings, and recommendations outlined in the report.
On August 4, 2011, Inhofe sent a letter to Arthur Elkins, EPA IG, requesting the OIG investigate concerns with CASAC regarding a lack of impartiality of committee members, failure to balance perspectives, failure to rotate members, and to avoid financial conflicts of interest.
To read the full text of the letter, click here.