Sensenbrenner, Issa Decry EPA Exclusion of Significant Climate Data

June 24, 2009

Sensenbrenner, Issa Decry EPA Exclusion of Significant Climate Data

EPA Official Rejected Filing Because Did Not ‘Help the Legal or Policy Case’

Washington, D.C.– Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, today urged the Environmental Protection Agency to include several relevant studies in its decision-making record for a major finding on climate policy after it was made public that a senior EPA official suppressed the scientific evidence for apparently political reasons.

“I’m sure it was very inconvenient for the EPA to consider a study that contradicted the findings it wanted to reach,” said Rep. Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “But the EPA is supposed to reach its findings based on evidence, not on political goals. The repression of this important study casts doubts on EPA’s finding, and frankly, on other analysis EPA has conducted on climate issues.”
 
Despite a request from House Republicans, on June 23, the EPA closed the public comment period on its proceeding that would allow this agency to apply the Clean Air Act to greenhouse gas emissions, which would give the EPA an unprecedented authority to regulate major sectors of the U.S. economy.
 
Sensenbrenner and Issa recently learned that important comments from an EPA analyst with 35 years experience were kept out of the proceeding by an Agency official, not because of scientific merit, but according to the official, because “the administration [had] decided to move forward on endangerment,” and the “comments [did] not help the legal or policy case for this decision.”
 
“Decisions of this magnitude should be based on sound science with a collection of all the relevant information,” said Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Investigations Committee. “This is an Administration that promised an ‘unprecedented’ level of transparency and accountability, yet, it is actively seeking to withhold new data in order to justify a political conclusion.  The American people deserve to know all the facts, not have their information filtered or censored based on what is politically convenient for the Administration.”
 
Sensenbrenner and Issa sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the public comment period to be reopened and that all relevant scientific and economic studies are included in the record.
 
In a series of e-mails sent March 12-17, 2009, the Office Director of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics refused to include the comments of one EPA analyst, and forbid the analyst from continuing his work. “With the endangerment finding nearly final, you need to move on to other issues and subjects.  I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.  No papers, no research etc.,” the office director wrote the analyst.
 
The analyst previously requested his work be included in the proceeding. The analyst wrote: “They are significant because they present information critical to the justification (or lack thereof) for the proposed endangerment finding.  They are valid because they explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the [International Panel on Climate Change] models.”
 
“This email exchange portrays an agency culture set in a predetermined course,” Sensenbrenner and Issa wrote. “It documents at least one instance in which the public was denied access to significant scientific literature and raises substantial questions about what additional evidence may have been suppressed.  Were other documents barred from the record?  What arguments were never raised because of a culture intolerant of divergent points of view?”
 
On June 8, 2009, Sensenbrenner and Issa joined several other members of Congress in asking the EPA to extend the comment period for its so-called “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. By determining that greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger, the EPA granted itself the authority to regulate these emissions through the Clean Air Act.
 
“EPA’s Endangerment Finding is one of the most significant regulatory finding in the country’s history.  It would give EPA unprecedented authority to regulate every aspect of American life.  It is truly alarming that EPA apparently prejudged this outcome and then moved forward on an incomplete record,” Sensenbrenner and Issa wrote.
 
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Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - Republicans
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