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Carper asks EPA watchdog to probe SAFE Vehicles, 'secret science' rules

Carper asks EPA watchdog to probe SAFE Vehicles, 'secret science' rules
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Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports MORE (D-Del.) has asked an internal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) watchdog to investigate alleged “irregularities” relating to two agency rules, his office said Monday. 

He wrote a letter to the agency’s inspector general asking him to look into procedures surrounding the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule and the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, also known as the “secret science” rule. 

“I have been informed by multiple sources that EPA political officials appear to be trying to conceal EPA comments that are critical of the draft final [SAFE Vehicles rule],” Carper wrote last week

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“I have learned of similar irregularities in the intra- and inter-agency processes associated with the preparation of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking of the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science Rule,” he added. 

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill in an email that the agency follows the law when it develops and proposes rules and regulations. 

“We will work with the IG should they decide to investigate,” the spokesperson added. 

The SAFE Vehicles rule, a draft of which was sent to the White House in January, would freeze the average fuel economy requirement at 37 miles per gallon (mpg). Changes made by the Obama administration would have hiked it to 54.5 mpg by 2026.

The Transparency in Regulatory Science rule would prevent the agency from considering studies that don’t make their underlying data public. 

Carper’s letter claims that EPA experts did not see about two-thirds of the analysis included in the draft SAFE Vehicles rule until the start of interagency review. 

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“The apparent absence of EPA authorship of its own Clean Air Act vehicle greenhouse gas emissions rule may be unlawful,” he wrote.  

The New York Times reported this month that the draft of this proposal contained 111 sections labeled “text forthcoming” and said that consumers would lose more money than they would save from the changes. 

Regarding the Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, Carper accused the EPA of not publishing “all data, information and analysis used to develop the rule to the docket at the time the rule was proposed.”