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October 31, 2017

NEWS: Inhofe Joins EPA Administrator Pruitt to Announce EPA Science Committee Directive

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, joined EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as he announced the new leadership of the EPA’s Science Advisory Boards and a new directive to ensure that any advisors who serve on one of the science committees are free from any real, apparent or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member.

“Administrator Pruitt’s directive to increase transparency and impartiality at the EPA is welcome news. I frequently questioned the Obama EPA about the process for selecting members of its science advisory committees, many of whom received significant grants from the EPA. Nearly every member of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee has received more than $119 million from the EPA, yet their role in establishing and reviewing policies can affect millions of families and businesses.

“When science advisors are receiving millions of dollars from the very agency they are influencing, serious concerns are raised about the independence of those scientists and call into question the integrity of the process as a whole, something the EPA’s own Peer-Review Handbook recognizes.

“The reforms implemented today will restore integrity to the science advisory boards and demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that diverse voices are heard from the scientific community and increasing participation from state, local and tribal governments.”

Background:

Senator Inhofe has been a longtime advocate for restoring integrity to the EPA’s advisory committees. As Chairman and Ranking Member of EPW, he led many efforts to restore transparency and public input to the panels:

On June 23, 2016, Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe and Deputy Assistant Administrator Thomas Burke requesting the Agency fully inform CASAC of its statutory responsibilities as it begins review of the NAAQS for particulate matter. 

On April 29, 2016, Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for greater transparency and public input on EPA appointments to scientific advisory panels, including CASAC.

On Feb. 2, 2016, Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning EPA’s process for selecting members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). 

On June 4, 2015, Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), issued a statement on a requested Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which included several recommendations for EPA to improve procedures at the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and identified concerns with CASAC’s failure to provide advice on adverse social, economic or energy effects related to the NAAQS. 

On May 20, 2015, the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, chaired by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) held a hearing to conduct oversight of EPA’s scientific advisory panels, including CASAC, and to review S. 543, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015

On Feb. 19, 2014, Inhofe and U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter to Arthur Elkins, EPA’s Inspector General (IG), regarding weaknesses in the 2013 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on CASAC.  Specifically, Inhofe and Vitter raised concerns about the scope of the review, findings, and recommendations outlined in the report.

On Dec. 19, 2011, Inhofe sent a letter to Arthur Elkins, EPA IG, requesting the OIG investigate CASAC’s peer review of unpublished EPA studies and reanalysis of other published studies that EPA cited in documents underpinning the NAAQS.

On Aug. 4, 2011, Inhofe sent a letter to Arthur Elkins, EPA IG, requesting the OIG investigate concerns with CASAC regarding a lack of impartiality of committee members, failure to balance perspectives, failure to rotate members, and to avoid financial conflicts of interest.

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