January 31, 2012
Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
Congressional Republicans Continue Oversight of EPA's Flawed Scientific Process
Washington, D.C. - As part of an ongoing bicameral oversight investigation, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, joined Senator David Vitter (R-LA.), as well as Representative Paul Broun (R-GA), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, and Representative Andy Harris (R-MD), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, to send a letter today to Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Toxicology Program, and Dr. Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development expressing concern that EPA continues to fail the transparency test and persists in using faulty data apparently to come to preconceived conclusions.
Specifically, this letter asks Doctors Birnbaum and Anastas to release the joint EPA and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Pathology Working Group's (PWG) report on research conducted at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy - an institute whose work is in dire need of review. EPA has used the Ramazzini Institute's research in at least four assessments, including one on methanol, under its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program, which EPA claims is the "scientific foundation for decisions." EPA has since suspended these four IRIS assessments due to conflicting data from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and ongoing questions about the Ramazzini Institute's work.
Senator Inhofe: "Today's bicameral letter is part of our ongoing effort to stop EPA's continued war against sound science and transparency. EPA still has not released the PWG's report which could raise serious concerns about the quality of science used by this Administration. While we appreciate that EPA has suspended the four IRIS assessments, it is uncertain how many other assessments have used questionable data - and the agency continues to pursue assessments even when serious concerns have been raised. EPA's IRIS process is clearly broken, and if the program is to have any credibility going forward, EPA has a long way to go to fix it."
Senator Vitter: "The EPA has an entrenched culture of secrecy that raises serious questions about the validity of the science it uses in setting policies that have far-reaching consequences for our economy. The agency's latest delay in releasing the PWG's report on the Ramazzini Institute's research only raises more questions. Why are the EPA and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) so reluctant to let the public see it? We're asking for accountability so Americans can see what concerns are being raised with the quality of scientific research, and standards for the weight of the scientific evidence being employed by both the EPA and NTP."
This latest letter comes on the heels of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled "Challenges Remain with EPA's Integrated Risk Information System Program" which described EPA's IRIS database as "at serious risk of becoming obsolete," and said that EPA has "both long-standing and new challenges" implementing the program.
The GAO report follows a 2011 National Academy of Science (NAS) report which also seriously called EPA's IRIS process into question. Senators Inhofe and Vitter are still waiting for responses from Administrator Jackson since last June to multiple questions related to EPA's scientific methods and integrity.