Responding to House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed spotlighting EPA’s “secret science,” Rep. Bernice Johnson (D., Tex.) offer a lame defense.
The letter is below. [JunkScience’s comments are in bold brackets].
Regarding Rep. Lamar Smith’s “The EPA’s Game of Secret Science” (op-ed, July 30): Chairman Smith says, “The data in question have not been subjected to scrutiny and analysis by independent scientists.” That is simply not true. [False.] Both studies have been the subject of numerous peer-reviewed follow-up studies, including a three-year re-analysis and validation by the Health Effects Institute. [Rubber-stamping is a more accurate description than peer review. Moreover, the HEI is 50% funded by EPA. The data remain secreted away from researchers not associated with the EPA-university grantee industrial complex.] Second, Chairman Smith says that, “The National Academy of Sciences declared in 2004 that the data the EPA is using is of ‘little use for decision-making.'” This mischaracterizes what the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report says. The full quote is, “Although these cohorts have provided critical evidence for long-term effects, evidence from further follow-up of these two U.S. cohorts alone will have little use for decision making.”The complete text thus makes clear that the NAS’s concerns had nothing to do with the data itself, but with the need for new cohorts to support future research. [If the data were any good, follow-up studies would be invaluable. The NAS is essentially saying, the data helped get the EPA regulations in place — let’s forget about them now so that EPA tyranny can continue unchecked.]
I am also concerned with what Chairman Smith plans to do with this information. The data he is demanding include the confidential medical records of over one million Americans. [Nonsense. These are not confidential medical records. The American Cancer Society data, for example, was collected by 70,000 volunteers asking neighbors, friends and relatives about how much they smoked and drank. There is no expectation of privacy here, not that anyone is asking for identification info anyway.] I can assure you that the committee does not have a qualified team of epidemiologists to comb through this information. He hasn’t yet given any explanation as to how he would use this data beyond saying that he plans to pass it on to unnamed “independent scientists.” [The data ought to be made publicly available — like the 1998 Shelby amendment on data access requires.] I am left to conclude that this is simply another attempt to try to discredit the EPA. [The EPA is discrediting itself by hiding data for almost 20 years.]
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Ranking Member, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology