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 SmithEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Democratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress 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 JohnsonPelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention What has EPA been hiding about formaldehyde? Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks 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.