EPA chief slams 'secret science' claims

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday assailed critics who charge that the agency relies on "secret science" to support its regulations.

McCarthy said science is the EPA's "North Star" and has helped to steer the country away from health risks and toward healthier communities.

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"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," McCarthy said at the National Academy of Sciences' 151st annual meeting. 

Republicans have used the "secret science" phrase to find fault with the agency's latest climate regulations, which propose carbon emissions limits on coal-fired power plants.

McCarthy's speech represented the first time she had spoken out with such force against the "secret science" allegations.

"Those critics are playing a dangerous game by discrediting the sound science our families and our businesses depend on every day," McCarthy said. "You can’t just claim the science isn’t real when it doesn’t align well with your political or financial interests."

McCarthy rejected arguments from Republicans that the Obama administration's climate agenda, which she is tasked with carrying out, is killing the economy.

It's a "worn-out argument," McCarthy said, that science-based policies lead to "unbearable economic costs."

Instead, those science-driven regulations have helped "our pocketbooks," she said, crediting the Energy Start program for saving families and businesses billions on utility bills, and cutting billions of tons of greenhouse gases.

"And without our analysis to guarantee savings, Energy Start is a just a fancy blue sticker," McCarthy scoffed. "But infuse it with the power of science — and that little label helps save the planet."

In the past week, McCarthy has been out in full force promoting the president's climate plan on a tour for Earth Week.

She sat down with Comedy Central's John Stewart to talk about the agency's climate regulations, threw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game to highlight steps individuals can take to mitigate their carbon footprint, and met with state leaders to discuss the coming carbon emissions limits for electric utility sources.