EPA Reorganization Renews Concerns about Suppression of Opposing Views

September 15, 2009

WASHINGTON. D.C. – In a letter to Administrator Lisa Jackson, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) warned that if the Environmental Protection Agency moved forward with rumored plans to dismantle the National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), the agency would dramatically weaken its ability to understand and evaluate the economic impact of its regulatory proposals.  Moreover, the move has the appearance of retaliation against the one office that raised serious concerns over the Agency’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.

Recent news reports show the EPA is working to remove all scientists from the agency’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), which provides the 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. While EPA has turned over some documents, others were improperly withheld.

“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 Rep. Issa, the Ranking Republican Member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  “This proposal reeks of Chicago style politics – eliminating voices that dared to question.”

“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.”

Issa and Sensenbrenner 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 the 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.

The letter from Sensenbrenner and Issa said the EPA appears to be on a “predetermined course” to propose and enact climate regulations and that the agency’s recent actions signal an attempt to “erect substantial and inappropriate hurdles to limit opposing viewpoints.” The letter urges the EPA to turn over all requested e-mails and other documents that will show how Dr. Carlin and others were treated by the agency.

Click here to read the September 14 letter from Reps. Issa and Sensenbrenner.