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Members Question EPA Administrator on Lack of Transparency, Independence

Jul 9, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to receive testimony from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on the agency’s overreaching regulatory agenda.

Chairman Smith: “Over the last year, the Environmental Protection Agency has released some of the most expensive and expansive regulations in its history. A glaring example is the president’s Power Plan. This plan is nothing more than a ‘Power Grab’ to give the government more control over Americans’ daily lives. Even EPA data shows that this regulation would reduce sea level rise by only 1/100th of an inch, the thickness of three sheets of paper.  This rule represents massive costs without significant benefits. In other words, it’s all pain and no gain.”

Chairman Smith questioned Administrator McCarthy on how the agency can justify its Clean Power Plan proposal, which is estimated to offset only 0.01 degrees Celsius. Administrator McCarthy did not dispute that estimate, and indicated the regulation is intended to urge other nations to act on their own emissions. When asked if she considers 0.01 degrees to be a significant contribution to halting climate change, Administrator McCarthy said, “No, the value of this rule is not measured in that way. It is measured in showing strong domestic action which can actually trigger global action to address what is necessary action.”

Members also asked Administrator McCarthy about the agency’s proposed ozone standards that are estimated to cost taxpayers millions of dollars and could be unachievable in certain areas, due to naturally occurring ozone levels. A report released today by the Center for Regulatory Solutions shows that the ozone standards would put many jobs at risk, particularly in the greater Chicago area. Members questioned the need for such a rule when EPA’s own figures show that since 1980, ozone levels have decreased by 33 percent and continue to improve.

Several Members also asked about the EPA’s lack of independence. The Science Committee recently requested information and documents related to the EPA’s development of the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and the agency’s inappropriate lobbying of outside organizations to generate grassroots support. Members today questioned inappropriate relationships between the EPA and outside environmental groups.

The Committee obtained a number of emails between environmental groups such as the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters and Michael Goo, former Associate Administrator of the EPA Office of Policy. The emails include evidence that Mr. Goo shared draft documents with outside groups and urged them to write reports in support of EPA actions. Members today asked Administrator McCarthy if this is a typical way the agency conducts business.

Another important issue highlighted at the hearing is the EPA’s continuing refusal to provide the data they use to justify its Clean Air Act regulations. Administrator McCarthy cited privacy concerns as the main reason why the data cannot be made public. While acknowledging the importance of privacy, Chairman Smith countered that experts have said that scientific data can be adequately de-identified to protect privacy. The National Academy of Sciences has described “relatively simple data masking techniques,” and issued a report that states: “Nothing in the past suggests that increasing access to research data without damage to privacy and confidentiality rights is beyond scientific reach.”

In light of recent comments by the Administrator about her “obligations to the planet,” Members in closing questioned whether Administrator McCarthy conducts objective analysis based on risks and cost-benefit, or whether her “religious fervor” for environmental issues impacts agency decisions that will ultimately result in hundreds of thousands of American job losses.

For additional information on today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

114th Congress