Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has issued a warning to Republicans who continue to question the integrity of the agency’s scientific data: we’re coming for you.
McCarthy told an audience at the National Academy of Sciences on Monday morning the agency will go after a “small but vocal group of critics” who are arguing the EPA is using “secret science” to push costly clean air regulations.
“Those critics conjure up claims of EPA secret science — but it’s not really about EPA science or secrets. It’s about challenging the credibility of world renowned scientists and institutions like Harvard University and the American Cancer Society,” McCarthy said, according to Politico.
“It’s about claiming that research is secret if researchers protect confidential personal health data from those who are not qualified to analyze it — and won’t agree to protect it,” she added. “If EPA is being accused of secret science because we rely on real scientists to conduct research, and independent scientists to peer review it, and scientists who’ve spent a lifetime studying the science to reproduce it — then so be it.”
Republicans Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas have led the charge on pressing the EPA to make publicly available the scientific data behind its clean air regulations. McCarthy promised she would make such data publicly available during her confirmation process last year. Now her refusal to cough up the data has angered Republicans.
“EPA’s leadership is willfully ignoring the big picture and defending EPA’s practices of using science that is, in fact, secret due to the refusal of the agency to share the underlying data with Congress and the American public,” said Vitter.
“We’re not asking, and we’ve never asked, for personal health information, and it is inexcusable for EPA to justify billions of dollars of economically significant regulations on science that is kept hidden from independent reanalysis and congressional oversight,” Vitter added.
The EPA has used non-public data to justify 85 percent of $2 trillion worth of Clean Air Act regulation benefits from 1990 to 2020. The agency also uses such datasets to assert that Clean Air Act regulation benefits exceed the costs by a 30:1 ratio originates from the secret data sets.
House Republicans have backed a bill that would block the EPA from crafting regulations based on “secret” data. Republicans argue that such data was used to craft onerous regulations, like one promulgated in late 2012 to reduce soot levels.
That soot rule is supposed to yield $4 billion to $9 billion in benefits per year, while costing from $50 million to $350 million, but the data backing that claim up is not publicly available.
“For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions,” said Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert, who introduced the bill.
“Virtually every regulation proposed by the Obama administration has been justified by nontransparent data and unverifiable claims,” said Smith, who cosponsored the bill. “The American people foot the bill for EPA’s costly regulations, and they have a right to see the underlying science. Costly environmental regulations should be based on publicly available data so that independent scientists can verify the EPA’s claims.”