Several experts on the EPA testified before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on November 30. They presented their findings about the need for the EPA to reform the way it conducts its research and how it reaches its conclusions about environmental dangers.
According to Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD): “The right reforms to EPA R&D programs will not only improve trust in the science that informs regulatory decisions, it will also provide a framework to prioritize the most important functions and reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending elsewhere.”
A press release posted by the Subcommittee summarized several of the comments:
Professor Susan Dudley, Director of the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, discussed how science is too often misrepresented at the EPA. “Current procedures for developing regulations addressing health and environmental risk blur the lines between science and policy, hindering not only public policy decisions, but development of scientific knowledge itself,” Ms. Dudley said.
Echoing such tendencies, Dr. Kenneth Green, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said “EPA’s use of science tends to systematically over-estimate the risks humans face from environmental exposures to pollutants such as particulate matter.” This approach, Green continued, “leads to inefficient use of scarce public resources, and imposes regulatory burdens that may well do more harm than good.”
Dr. Alan Moghissi, President of the Institute for Regulatory Science, took it a step further, calling for EPA to increase transparency in the processes EPA uses in formulating regulations. “The EPA and other regulatory agencies have the legal and ethical obligation to inform the public to the best of their ability the status of the science used in their regulatory decisions,” Dr. Moghissi said. “The information must include assumptions, judgments, the inclusion of default data, and any other information that impacted the scientific aspects of their decision.”
Witnesses also made recommendations on how such issues could be minimized. Proposing an independent body to conduct scientific assessments, Dr. Gary Marchant, Professor of Law at Arizona State University, stated that this recommendation “could enhance the utility and credibility of the scientific inputs into EPA’s regulatory decisions.”