Committee Leaders Call on Administration to Release Secret Data Behind Looming Air Rule

Dec 13, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Republican leaders on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, Acting White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Boris Bershteyn, and the President’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren questioning the rulemaking process and quality of science supporting a costly new fine particulate matter rule to be released in the coming days.  The letter was sent by Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), incoming Chairman for the 113th Congress, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD).

As the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and EPA aim to respond to a court-imposed December 14th deadline for release of the final National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the lawmakers reiterated concerns that the rulemaking has been rushed, and relies heavily on secret science and nontransparent data. 

“As you know, Members of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee have repeatedly requested release of the scientific data that EPA uses to justify alleged benefits of this rule (as well as the majority of EPA’s Clean Air Act benefit claims for non- PM2.5 rules),” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.  “Multiple senior Obama Administration officials have promised to ensure release of this data, but have yet to fulfill such commitments, raising further questions regarding the seriousness of the President’s repeated statements that he is operating ‘the most open and transparent Administration in history.’” 

The data sets in question serve as the sole basis for $1.7 trillion, or 85 percent, of the $2.0 trillion in total benefits that EPA claims will result from the Clean Air Act between 1990 to 2020.  These secret data are also the origin of EPA’s frequent claim that the benefits of its Clean Air Act regulations exceed the costs by a 30-to-1 ratio.  

Prior to finalizing the new rule, the Committee leaders said “it is essential that EPA and the White House make the underlying data linking PM2.5 and mortality publicly available in a manner sufficient for analysis by independent scientists and researchers.  This is especially important as EPA is subjecting taxpayers that funded this research to its costly regulatory consequences, without ever allowing public review or scrutiny of the information… [a]ccordingly, we call on EPA and the White House to immediately work to make these data sets publicly-available, and ensure that future Federal regulatory decisions are based on transparent and publicly-available scientific data.”