GOP chairman: Trump can ‘right the ship’ at EPA

GOP chairman: Trump can ‘right the ship’ at EPA
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the House Science Committee is calling on the Trump administration to make big changes to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) use of science.

Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday railed on the Obama administration’s use of science to justify regulations and vowed to move forward again on his legislation to restrict the scientific data the EPA can use.

“Legitimate science should underlie all actions at the agency, from research to regulations, and be an integral part of justifying their actions,” Smith said in opening a hearing that he dubbed “Making EPA Great Again,” borrowing from President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

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“Unfortunately, over the last eight years, the EPA has pursued a political agenda, not a scientific one.”

Smith said that under Trump, “there is now an opportunity to right the ship at the EPA and steer the agency in the right direction.”

The EPA, he said “can once again become an agency that is credible and respected,” recommending it add more “balanced” perspectives within the agency and eliminate conflicts of interest.

Smith said he would continue to push legislation to eliminate the use of “secret science” at the EPA, a term Republicans use for scientific data that they do not believe to be sufficiently transparent.

Democrats have criticized the legislation, saying that the GOP wants information like personal medical data to be made public, and that the measure unnecessarily restricts the data the EPA can use.

“I’m disappointed, but not really surprised, that the very first hearing of this Congress will be focused on attacking the Environmental Protection Agency, as was so often the theme of our hearings the last Congress,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonReturning to the moon to gain soft political power Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Prosecutors used FISA warrant to get info on Huawei | Study finds discrimination in Facebook ads | Bezos retains voting control over ex-wife's Amazon stocks MORE (Texas), the Science Committee’s top Democrat.

“The efforts by some to undermine how the EPA and other federal agencies use science threatens our economy, threatens public health, threatens the environment, threatens public confidence in our government.”

She accused the GOP of “preemptively limiting scientific input” at the EPA and unjustifiably questioning the scientific process.

“Simply put, limiting the science EPA uses only serves to limit the actions EPA may take to protect public health and the environment,” Johnson said.