Washington, D.C.– Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wis., the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, today urged Select Committee Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass., to investigate the lack of transparency at the Environmental Protection Agency after several recent incidents raised questions about EPA’s commitment to openness.
“A pattern is emerging, and it’s one of suppression, obstruction and hindrance,” Sensenbrenner said. “President Obama promised an administration that would protect free and open inquiry, but already, we’re seeing cases where inconvenient information is conveniently brushed under the rug. I urge Chairman Markey and other Democratic leaders to help uncover the truth and make all important information public.”
In a letter sent Thursday to Markey, Sensenbrenner cited the EPA’s recent refusal to include the report of a 38-year agency veteran analyst into its record on a climate change proceeding, saying it was the latest in a series of incidents where the administration operated in secrecy to further its policy goals.
Sensenbrenner asked Markey to hold an investigative hearing on the quashed EPA report and other incidents that raise questions about the administration’s openness. In the letter, Sensenbrenner cited both Obama’s promise to respect scientific inquiry and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s promise of “overwhelming transparency.”
Sensenbrenner joined several Republicans last week in calling for the EPA to enter a report from Dr. Alan Carlin, an analyst with nearly four decades of experience at EPA, into the agency’s record on the so-called “endangerment finding,” which would give the EPA the ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Carlin’s report questioned some of the scientific assumptions in the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. Specifically, Carlin argued that more recent data accumulated since the UN released its report justified an independent scientific assessment from EPA.
As a series of internal EPA e-mails revealed, Carlin asked his manager, the director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics, to enter these materials into the record, but was told that his report did not “help the legal or policy case for this decision.” Carlin was then told to move on to other assignments.
“What’s most disturbing about this is that the decision to keep this document out of the proceeding appears to be all about politics,” Sensenbrenner said. “We need the EPA to be all about the facts, and political staff in the agency shouldn’t be judging the merits of filings based on how it plays to the political crowd.”
Sensenbrenner also cited other recent incidents where it appears Administration staff tried to quash critical reports and information. In one case, the head of the California Air Resources Board revealed that the White House held a series of secret meetings on crafting new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and that Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, quietly orchestrated the discussions and instructed participants to “put nothing in writing.” Sensenbrenner has already requested that Markey convene a Select Committee hearing on this topic.
Sensenbrenner also raised questions about an Office of Management and Budget memo that warned that the EPA’s endangerment findings would have “serious economic consequences.” According to Administration sources, those warnings were dismissed, in part, because they originated from a “Bush holdover,” despite the fact that this career civil servant was hired by the Clinton administration.