The law requires that the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) be independent and unbiased. But the lawless EPA just stacked the panel again.
Last week, EPA quietly replaced outgoing CASAC member and state representative George Allen with one Donna Kenski:
Here are the facts. You decided whether the EPA selection process and Kenski comply with the letter and spirit of federal laws requiring that CASAC be independent and unbiased.
First, of the 83 recommendations, Kenski was only nominated by one commenter — and that recommendation was lukewarm as it also recommended three others for the one CASAC spot open. She was also strongly opposed by one commenter, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Sen. Inhofe pointed out that:
- EPA has failed to ensure geographic diversity among state representatives on CASAC. For example, Region 5 (the Great Lakes region from which Kenski comes) has already had five representatives on CASAC during the Obama EPA. In contrast, Region 6 (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico) has had NO representatives on CASAC during the Obama EPA.
- EPA has failed to ensure diversity of opinion. In addition to the applicable law, the EPA handbook for selecting federal advisory committee members also requires that EPA ensure diversity of opinion. Kenski already served on CASAC (2008-2010).
- Kenski is not impartial. In 2008, Kenski participated in a letter ridiculing then-EPA administrator Stephen Johnson for not following CASAC’s recommendation for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. This action was partisan and overstepped the statutory authority of CASAC.
On the matter of geographical diversity, there were three comments that did not recommend a specific person for the open CASAC slot but they did call for picking someone that would bring much needed geographic diversity and balance to the panel.
It;’s also worth noting that Kenski has also received a $102,000 grant from EPA and her employer (Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium) received $1,048,080 from EPA this year.
In contrast, Dr. Michael E. Honeycutt (Director of the Toxicology Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) received 60 recommendations (72% of those received from the public). But EPA did not select him. (See spreadsheet of recommendations received by EPA). Dr. Honeycutt would have helped reduce CASAC’s geographic diversity problem, but his penchant for a science-and reality-based regulatory process apparently was not appreciated by EPA.
Now that EPA has re-stacked CASAC, here is a summary of its bias toward EPA — six of its seven members have financial ties to EPA:
- Ana Diez-Roux (Chair) is listed as principal investigator on $33,571,181 worth of grants from EPA.
- Judith Chow is listed as principal investigator on $449,456 worth of grants from EPA.
- Ivan Fernandez is listed as principal investigator on $1,517,756 worth of grants from EPA.
- Jack Harkema is listed as principal investigator on $26,918,114 worth of grants from EPA.
- Donna Kenski is listed as principal investigator on $102,000 worth of grants from EPA and her employer received $1,048,080 from EPA this year.
- Lianne Sheppard is listed as principal investigator on $62,546,656 worth of grants from EPA.
That’s a total of $126,153,243 in EPA payola for its “independent” science advisory board.
Only Ron Wyzga of the Electric Power Research Institute — the token, mild-mannered industry representative — has no financial tie to EPA. But as CASAC works on a consensus basis, any meaningful dissent from Wyzga will likely be futile.
We sued EPA earlier this year about similar bias in the CASAC Particulate Matter Panel. Our effort came up short for procedural reasons. But those procedural reasons might not be a barrier if the state of Texas decides to sue EPA. Texas, the ball is in your court.