The Spectacle Blog

House Subpoenas EPA Over Pollution Studies

By on 8.5.13 | 4:17PM

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee issued its first subpoena in 21 years to the EPA, requesting data from the agency’s pollution studies used in forming regulations that crack down on smog, soot, and power plant emissions. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) teamed up to demand the information.

The congressmen claim that the process used by the agency might be driven more by politics than by data and that its “secret science” is suspect. The agency’s studies tied pollution to health problems, but without the data, it’s hard to tell how much is based in fact.

“Given that the data sets in question are used to justify new costly regulations, it is imperative that this information be open and transparent,” Stewart said.

Smith notes that it has been nearly two years since the agency promised to turn over the science used to justify the regulations.

“The EPA should not base its regulations on secret data. The EPA’s lack of cooperation contributes to the suspicion that the data sets do not support the agency’s actions,” Smith said. “The American people deserve all of the facts and have a right to know whether the EPA is using good science.”

The Science Committee Republicans have faced criticism from the EPA and Democrats on the committee, who claim that the EPA is trying to be as open as it can be about the studies which depend on the private health information of over 1 million Americans. The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), claims that Science Committee Republicans don’t have anyone qualified enough to review the information.

“You have requested the personal medical histories of literally hundreds of thousands of American citizens. And for what purpose?" she wrote in a letter to Smith last week. "There is no conceivable way that you or your staff could meaningfully use this data to refute the seminal health studies you seem preoccupied with attacking.”

The EPA has asked researchers to hand over the requested information. Officials state they have provided all of the information at their disposal.

The subpoena gave the agency until Aug. 21 to hand over the information, which was compiled by Harvard University and the American Cancer Society. Despite Johnson’s statement, I’d think with the right attack plan, the committee will be able to determine how much scientific basis is truly behind the regulations. If the committee gets the right individuals to review the data, we’ll see whether this is another case of environmental scare tactics.

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