Smith Subpoenas EPA’s Secret Science

Aug 1, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today issued a subpoena to the EPA, forcing the agency to release the secret science it uses as the basis for costly air regulations.

Over the past two years, the Committee has repeatedly requested the data the agency uses to justify virtually every Clean Air Act regulation proposed and finalized by the Obama administration. This was the first congressional subpoena the Science Committee has issued in 21 years.

Chairman Smith: “In September 2011, the EPA’s then-Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy committed to make the data sets available to the Committee. Even though Ms. McCarthy now leads the agency, she has yet to provide the promised data to the Committee.

“This subpoena could have been avoided.  Unfortunately, we’ve been put in this position by an agency that willfully disregards congressional requests and makes its rules using undisclosed data. After two years of failing to respond, it’s clear that the EPA is not going to give the American people what they deserve—the truth about regulations.

“The EPA should not base its regulations on secret data. By denying the Committee’s request, the agency prevents Congress from fulfilling its oversight responsibilities and denies the American people the ability to verify EPA’s claims. The EPA’s lack of cooperation contributes to the suspicion that the data sets do not support the agency’s actions. The American people deserve all of the facts and have a right to know whether the EPA is using good science.”

The two data sets in question are used to justify major costly new air regulations. As one example, by its own estimates the EPA’s proposed limits on ozone will cost taxpayers $90 billion per year, making it the most costly regulation the federal government has ever issued. Some of the data in question is up to 30-years-old. 

Over the last two years, the Science Committee has sent six letters to the EPA and other top administration officials. But the administration has refused to substantively respond to the requests. Under the EPA’s current process, only a select few who support the EPA’s agenda are authorized to access and analyze the data. But this ignores the need for congressional oversight of taxpayer-funded research.

During the meeting, Chairman Smith made clear that any personal health information that is in the data will be protected and removed before the data is made public. He asserted that ensuring public access to taxpayer funded data that is used in regulations is good science and good government.

This afternoon, the Committee voted to approve a resolution authorizing the Chairman to issue a subpoena for the data in question. Chairman Smith subsequently signed the subpoena, which legally obliges the EPA to provide the data to the Committee.

A copy of the subpoena can be found here.