EPA Reorganization Renews Concerns about Suppression of Opposing Views

September 15, 2009

EPA Reorganization Renews Concerns about Suppression of Opposing Views

Sensenbrenner, Issa Ask EPA’s Jackson for Critical Information

Washington, D.C.– If the Environmental Protection Agency enacts a reported restructuring plan, the agency will weaken its ability to weigh the economic impact of its regulatory proposals and raise more concerns that it is trying to suppress  internal opposition to proposed climate rules, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Recent news reports show EPA is working to remove all scientists from the agency’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), which provides EPA with economic analysis of proposed rules and regulations. Sensenbrenner and Issa said the news reports confirmed the concerns about reorganizing NCEE they raised with Jackson in a July 17 letter that requested documents and interviews with key EPA staff.
“Separating science from economic analysis will be bad news for taxpayers and for the economy,” said Sensenbrenner, Ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Regulation is a balancing act.  What is the potential harm and what are the potential costs of action?  By removing scientists from its economic office, EPA destroys this balance.  Without scientific expertise, the economists cannot credibly analyze costs.  The result will be more regulation and more costs to taxpayers without any idea whether these costs are justified.”
Sensenbrenner and Issa have said they are alarmed that a report from NCEE economist Dr. Alan Carlin, which raised questions about some of the science EPA was using to bolster its proposed climate regulations, was kept out of EPA’s record because it failed to support Administration policy. They said the proposed restructure could be part of an effort to retaliate against Dr. Carlin and others who raise scientific challenges to Administrative policy goals.
“EPA is moving swiftly to consolidate its power over U.S. energy production through regulation of CO2 and other GHGs under the Clean Air Act.  The NCEE was an internal stumbling block that raised concerns about an ideologically driven agenda.  Now EPA is taking actions to dismantle the office,” said Issa, the Ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  “This proposal reeks of Chicago style politics – eliminating voices that dared to question.”
“This action sends a message to Dr. Carlin and scientists at EPA, ‘Get behind the Administration’s political goals or suffer the consequences,’” Sensenbrenner said.
Internal EPA e-mails show Dr. Carlin’s report was excluded from EPA’s record after the NCEE director said that the agency had decided to move forward on its climate regulations and that his report did not help “the legal or policy case for the decision.” In the July 17 letter to EPA, Sensenbrenner and Issa said interviews with EPA staff showed that submitting the report may have negatively impacted NCEE and undermined its role in the agency.
EPA has supplied some documents to committee staff, but withheld others. “EPA has proposed the largest regulatory effort in history. Our committees have uncovered irregularities with the process and it is imperative that these issues are fully investigated and resolved before the deliberative process is complete,” Sensenbrenner and Issa wrote.
“This isn’t about one director excluding the work of one employee,” Sensenbrenner said. “This is about a culture within EPA where economic analysis is unwelcome. Several studies show that regulating greenhouse gas emissions will raise energy prices and negatively impact our economy, so it’s critical that policy makers have useful scientific and economic analysis. Economic considerations not only help policy makers determine when to act, but also, how best to act when it becomes clear that regulation is necessary.  If EPA weakens NCEE, taxpayers will pay a very heavy price.”

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