GOP: EPA ‘muzzled’ scientists on regs

House Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of ignoring science to advance new environmental regulations.

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Twenty-one GOP members of the House Science Committee wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Gina McCarthy on Thursday claiming that the agency had “muzzled” dissenting voices on an outside board meant to check its science. 

“The EPA cannot continue to rush ahead with costly regulations without allowing time for a real-world look at the science,” wrote committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and 20 other GOP lawmakers.

In September, the EPA proposed a contentious new rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions at new power plants, one of the centerpieces of President Obama’s efforts to combat climate change in his second term.

The draft regulation calls for all new coal plants to use a carbon capture and storage technology that industry groups and Republican critics say isn’t yet available on a large enough scale.

Republican lawmakers said the EPA is trying to dismiss concerns from an outside review board by asserting that it isn't setting storage requirements, negating the need for the board to provide analysis.

“The claim that the rule doesn’t need to address storage concerns highlights your Agency’s continued lack of transparency and consistent attempts to avoid accountability,” the lawmakers wrote to McCarthy.

The Obama administration has noted that a dozen power plants around the world are already using the carbon capture technology. Requiring it on new plants would lead to technical innovations, the EPA has said.

In their letter, Republicans said that reporting requirements in the draft rule would also “impose new regulatory burdens” on oil developers who use power plants’ stored carbon.

“The EPA cannot afford to ignore the complex consequences of its rules in real-world applications,” they wrote.