Republicans Raise Concerns with NOAA Climate Service, EPA Science Activities

Mar 10, 2011
Republicans Raise Concerns with NOAA Climate Service, EPA Science Activities

Washington D.C. – Today, in a hearing to review the fiscal year 2012 (FY12) budget requests at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Republicans questioned Administration spending priorities and commitment to objective and transparent science-based decision-making.

Addressing NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX)strongly opposed the Agency moving forward with creation of a new Climate Service, without congressional review or approval.  “The Administration has proposed the largest reorganization in NOAA history in order to create a new Climate Service,” Hall noted.  “Until and unless Congress reviews and approves this proposal, I expect NOAA to continue to operate as it did prior to the February 2010 announcement. There should be no changes in the existing management matrix, no changes in decision-making or reporting lines within the line offices, and no authorities changed under the guise of transition.”

As part of the FY12 budget proposal, the Administration requests $346.2 million to create this new line office. Much of these funds would be transferred from other important offices within NOAA, such the National Weather Service and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.  Republicans today acknowledged the important and useful information that comes from NOAA, and questioned the wisdom of transferring funds away from vital offices to create this new office.

Testifying on a separate panel was Dr. Paul Anastas, the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development at the EPA.  Addressing Dr. Anastas, Chairman Hall discussed the significant economic impacts that regulatory actions at the EPA can have.  However, Hall said that “Often overlooked in this debate is agency process and how it affects the quality of the underlying science that these regulations are based on.”

In light of new information, Hall specifically mentioned the politicization of the process EPA used to create its “Endangerment Finding,” which claims that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health or welfare. “The numerous admitted mistakes, questionable data sets and lack of transparency in the process has only intensified the questions and doubts that this decision was made as a result of politics instead of science,” Hall said.

Further questioning EPA’s justification for regulating carbon dioxide, the Committee’s Vice Chairman, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), questioned both witnesses about several publicized mistakes and inaccurate assertions that have been made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Sensenbrenner also referred to the emails leaked by the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, commonly referred to as “Climategate,” and questioned Dr. Lubchenco’s seemingly apparent disregard of the importance these emails have had on the public’s trust of climate science.

Republicans also questioned Dr. Anastas about the draft hydraulic fracturing study, released in February of this year.  Chairman Hall expressed his disappointment that the study would not be helpful to key decision makers.  Hall said that “The study is focused on the impact possibilities of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, without ever looking at the probabilities of such an impact occurring.  It seems about as useful as studying the possible impacts of getting hit by a bus without ever considering the probability of such an event occurring within existing laws and when simple precautionary steps are taken.”  When pressed about the study, Dr. Anastas assured the Chairman that key stakeholders, including State regulators, would have the opportunity to provide input on study activities throughout the duration of the study.