House Republicans are blasting the Obama administration for allegedly suppressing a U.S. EPA analyst's study of the agency's proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
GOP lawmakers are accusing the administration of ignoring an internal report written by an EPA career staffer because the report would have contradicted the administration's decision to move forward with its proposal that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare.
The four e-mails in question are dated between March 12 and March 17, prior to the agency's April release of the proposal. In the e-mail string, an EPA career economist asked the director of EPA's National Center of Environmental Economics to have his comments forwarded to the agency office responsible for managing the development of the "endangerment" finding.
The director of the economics office declined to forward the comments to EPA's air office in a subsequent e-mail. "The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round," the director said. "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision."
Republican lawmakers blasted the administration today, saying the agency had deliberately concealed a relevant analysis for political purposes.
"I'm sure it was very inconvenient for the EPA to consider a study that contradicted the findings it wanted to reach," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), ranking member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. "But EPA is supposed to reach its findings based on evidence, not on political goals."
Sensenbrenner, along with House Oversight Committee ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson yesterday, saying the e-mail exchange portrays "an agency culture set in a predetermined course."
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a separate letter to Jackson yesterday.
The e-mails, Barton wrote, suggest that "substantive analysis that was critical of the proposed endangerment finding, and that had been prepared by the agency's own staff, was barred from agency consideration by supervising EPA officials, based on concerns of negative consequences for the office from which the analysis had been generated."
EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy dismissed the allegations that the agency had suppressed the views of one of its scientists. Her comments came in response to the public release of the e-mails and not in response to the lawmakers' letters, to which she said the agency would respond appropriately.
The development of the endangerment finding reflected the administration's commitment to openness, transparency and science-based decision-making, she said.
"In this instance, certain opinions were expressed by an individual who is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue," Andy added. "Nevertheless, several of the opinions and ideas proposed by this individual were submitted to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding."
EPA wrapped up the public comment period on the endangerment finding Tuesday, despite requests from Republican lawmakers and industry groups to allow more time for the public to weigh in (E&ENews PM, June 22).
Click here to read the string of EPA e-mails.
Click here to read the letter from Sensenbrenner and Issa.
Click here to read Barton's letter.
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