Inhofe Calls for Transparency and Public Input on EPA Advisory Panels

“Circumstances surrounding the recent nomination request and correspondence between EPA and the Senate EPW Committee raise new concerns the agency is not committed to a transparent or meaningful public input process for selecting CASAC and SAB members.”

The media release is below.

Friday April 29, 2016

Inhofe Calls for Transparency and Public Input on EPA Advisory Panels

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting greater transparency and public input in EPA’s process for selecting independent science advisors. In the letter, Inhofe requests a 30 day extension for the public to submit nominations to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the Science Advisory Board (SAB), and five SAB committees, which are currently due by May 6.

In the letter, Inhofe said: “As you are aware, the Senate EPW Committee has long conducted oversight of EPA advisory panels. These panels, including the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the Science Advisory Board, play a critical role in influencing the agency’s regulatory actions and have significant implications for the next administration. However, circumstances surrounding the recent nomination request and correspondence between EPA and the Senate EPW Committee raise new concerns the agency is not committed to a transparent or meaningful public input process for selecting CASAC and SAB members.

Background:

CASAC was established under the Clean Air Act to provide independent expert advice to the EPA Administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). SAB was established under the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act to review scientific and technical information being used by EPA as the basis for regulatory actions.

On Feb. 2, 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 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 and review of S. 543, The Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015.

On Feb. 24, 2015,The Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, S. 543, was introduced by Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), with cosponsors Inhofe and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.), which would improve transparency and fairness within EPA’s SAB.

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.

To view the full text of the letter, click here.

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