"EPA's leadership is willfully ignoring the big picture and defending EPA's practices of using science that is, in fact, secret due to the refusal of the Agency to share the underlying data with Congress and the American public," said Vitter. "We're not asking, and we've never asked, for personal health information, and it is inexcusable for EPA to justify billions of dollars of economically significant regulations on science that is kept hidden from independent reanalysis and congressional oversight."
During Gina McCarthy's confirmation process, she made a commitment to fulfill five transparency requests from the EPW Republicans, which included making available requested underlying research data, while de-identifying and eliminating any personally identifying information that may be contained in the data prior to release. EPA has yet to fully comply with this request. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued guidelines on how to de-identify medical records in order to implement elements of the new healthcare law. Additionally, EPA has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove personal identifiers from data, providing evidence that data containing personal information can be de-identified and released. Click here to read more.
Vitter has long been concerned with EPA's lack of transparency regarding scientific integrity, specifically concerning the data underlying the development of significant, costly regulations by the Agency.
• On March 17, 2014, Vitter sent a letter to Dr. Francesca Grifo, EPA's Science Integrity Official, detailing his concerns with EPA continued violation of the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development's (OECD) guidelines for "Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct." As of today, Dr. Grifo has not yet provided a response.
• On March 11, 2014, Vitter sent a letter to EPA Assistant Administrator Bob Perciasepe reminding him of the Agency's agreement that the EPA would initiate a process for de-identification of personal health information (PHI) within the studies.
• In November 2013, Vitter sent a letter to Jim Jones, EPA's Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, regarding the Agency's Final Toxicological Review of Methanol (Non-Cancer) that was released on September 30th. Vitter attested that the EPA failed to use the best available science in their final review, and that the Agency went so far as to intentionally ignore their own peer reviewers.\
• In April 2013, EPW Republicans released an "Eye on the EPA: Transparency through Data Access," which detailed the Senators' third transparency request of McCarthy during her nomination process, which was for EPA to share the underlying data used to promulgate Clean Air Act rules be made public so the public can independently examine cost/benefit and other issues.
• In March 2013, Vitter and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Air and Radiation, Assistant Administrator, Gina McCarthy, seeking the science underpinning new air quality rules and criticizing the agency's lack of transparency and use of secret data.
• In January 2012, Vitter, along with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.), wrote to the Director of the National Toxicology Program and the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development of the EPA, expressing concern that EPA continued to fail the transparency test and persisted in using faulty data from the Ramazzini Institute in Italy to come to predetermined conclusions. The Members' bicameral oversight and inquiry lead to the EPA withdrawing use of work from the Ramazzini Institute for multiple assessments, and led the Agency to claim they would move forward using "the soundest possible science" in future EPA Assessments.
• In October 2011, Sens. Vitter, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the White House, questioning the Obama Administration's methods of achieving sound science in determining major federal actions. In November 2011, Dr. Holdren provided a vague response outlining the White House's overall commitment to scientific integrity.