The Senate subcommittee overseeing environmental policy failed in holding accountable key activities of the Obama administration in 2009.
The conclusion is from a Minority Staff Report released by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
‘When the Majority created the Subcommittee on Oversight, it was stated that they planned and I quote ‘to use the subcommittee to explore ways to restore scientific integrity at the EPA and other federal agencies focused on the environment, and to strengthen environmental protections by once again making the regulatory process more transparent,’ Barrasso said, referencing the report on the U.S. Senate floor (March 4).
Barrasso endorsed Mr. Arthur Elkins’s nomination as Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general to investigate concerns the report raised.
According to an e-mail to HUMAN EVENTS from Sen. Barrasso’s office, the full Senate has not yet confirmed Mr. Elkins’s nomination.
Barrasso said the subcommittee’s Democratic majority allowed urgent affairs to fly under the radar, allowing the credibility of President Obama’s promises of transparency and sound science to be scrutinized.
‘Over the last year Mr. President, my colleagues and I have requested a series of investigations and hearings into key matters related to whistleblowers being silenced, data being manipulated, and shadow czars holding meetings where nothing was put into writing to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests,’ Barrasso charged.
The report itself cited specific instances, claiming the administration’s partisan politics is preceding real solutions and undermining public trust.
The report noted the administration’s wrongly labeling a Small Business Administration (SBA) attorney as a ‘Bush holdover,’ implying her to be a Republican loyalist.
The attorney, Mrs. Shawn McGibbons, said in a memo that the EPA did not account for negative consequences of the Clean Air Act’s greenhouse gas rules on small businesses.
In October 2009, the administration brought in Mrs. Susan Walthall, replacing McGibbons.
Upon similar assessment, Walthall also concluded that the EPA’s dubious regulations would “severely impact small businesses,” according to the report.
The report called for a hearing into the administration’s ‘unacceptable’ treatment of McGibbons, since they apparently targeted McGibbons for “political purposes.”
Second, the report questioned the administration’s hasty recognition of scientific data supporting climate change. Simultaneously, the administration rejected data unsupportive of climate change, it said.
A thirty-nine year EPA veteran, Dr. Alan Carlin, prepared a climatology analysis, suggesting the agency reevaluate carbon dioxide threats to public health and welfare.
Carlin noted ‘inconsistencies’ in climate data from agencies like the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).
The incompatible data, he said, were too “important” and “abstruse” to let slide.
Further questioning the Obama administration’s one-sided data acceptance, the report cited news articles from the Wall Street Journal and CBS News that documented possible suppression of Carlin’s analysis.
“The Subcommittee on Oversight or the full Senate and Public Works Committee should hold hearings and conduct a complete investigation into the issue,” the minority report said of Carlin’s analysis.
Third, the report challenged the very basis in formulating the supposed Endangerment Finding, citing the recent Climategate scandal that intensified a brewing firestorm of doubt among skeptics.
The Endangerment finding is in section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act and states that ‘current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases–carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)–in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.’
The EPA’s ‘numerous appeals’ to flawed IPCC reports compromise hazardous gas claims, according to the report.
The report noted disputed research as the foundation in establishing the IPCC itself. In the wake of Climategate, the United Nations (UN) launched an independent investigation into the IPCC.
The minority’s report accounted for at least two letters sent to administration officials seeking to bring light to the issue.
Three congressmen, in a December 2009 letter addressed to Lisa Jackson of the EPA, urged repealing specific climate change rules until “further investigation” legitimizes an authentic threat.
In addition to Senator Barrasso, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.) are letter co-signers.
Among the repeals the EPA should implement, the letter said, are the ‘Proposed Endangerment Finding,’ ‘Light Duty Vehicle Rule,’ and ‘Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule.’
Barrasso sent an additional letter to the Senate Subcommittee chairman, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), calling for the subcommittee to begin an ‘immediate investigation into this matter, including taking the necessary steps to prevent any further loss of related documents, emails, and other records that would shed some light into this matter’
According to the report, Whitehouse responded the he did not believe the subcommittee had “jurisdiction over this matter” and that government agencies under the Oversight Committee were ‘not involved in any of the exchanges contained in the stolen e-mails.’
In a letter to Barrasso (March 9), Whitehouse said that he shared Barrasso’s concerns and also called for the Elkins’s conformation as the EPA inspector general.
Pending Elkins’s confirmation, Whitehouse invited Barrasso to request that Elkins ‘conduct an investigation of scientific integrity, transparency, and whistleblower protection at EPA beginning in February 2006 when the previous Senate-confirmed Inspector General resigned, the letter said.
Concern with the EPA’s current policies is that they will ‘raise energy prices and cost millions of Americans jobs,’ the report said.
Lastly, the report called into question the extensive authority given to policy czars like Carol Browner, who serves as Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.
The report labeled her as being a part of the president’s “shadow cabinet,” meaning that appointees like her are not subject to congressional oversight.
Citing the New York Times (May 20, 2009), the report said that Browner never put anything in writing regarding a proposal for fuel economy standards.
In light of Browner’s ‘unprecedented authority’ and of other administration czars, the report said the administration’s doublespeak regarding transparency and openness will have dire consequences.
“As more power is transferred to policy czars from officials confirmed by the Senate or elected by the people, transparency will continue to disappear and public faith in the federal government will continue to erode,” the report concluded.
The Subcommittee on Oversight held two meetings in 2009, according to the report.
Of those two meetings, only one (June 9th) addressed ‘Scientific Integrity and Transparency Reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency.’