Government Bytes

Blog 

More “Toxic”Research at EPA?

by Pete Sepp / /

As these pages have long depicted, excessive governmentpaperwork and overbearing regulations can cost taxpayers and consumers dearly, sometimesdoing as much damage as high taxes, pork-barrel spending, or recklessborrowing.

A report from NTU last month focusedon the significant economic costs that the Environmental Protection Agency’sregulations, including a revised ozone standard, would impose on the Americaneconomy. The author of our assessment, Dr. David Montgomery, called out EPA officialsfor statements implying that the Clean Air Act alone will deliver $2 trillionof benefits in the year 2020 – whenGross Domestic Product is expected to reach $20 trillion (!).

So it was with little surprise (but lots of concern) that welearned of a new controversy surrounding EPA’s research. Last week SenatorsDavid Vitter (R-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) sent an exhaustive 11-page letterto the EPA’s Lisa Jackson questioning scientific methods used by her agency inissuing risk assessments, following deficiencies identified by the NationalAcademy of Science (NAS) in their review of EPA’s draft risk assessment forformaldehyde. 

The Senators raise the valid point that the fundamentalproblems raised by NAS warrant reconsideration of all EPA risk assessments thatuse the same methods, including the agency’s ongoing revision to its NationalAmbient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) for ozone, which is due to be releasedlater this month. 

Here is an excerpt from that letter (HT: Sens. Vitter andInhofe for sharing):

Dear Administrator Jackson:

On June 15, 2011, you testified before the SenateEnvironment and Public Works Committee. At that hearing, we emphasized theserious nature of the scientific concerns raised by the National Academy ofSciences (NAS) in its recent critique of EPA’s draft risk assessment forformaldehyde, Review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s DraftIRIS Assessment of Formaldehyde (“NAS Formaldehyde Report”). The NASreport highlights that for over a decade EPA has continued to err in its riskassessments from issues such as a lack of information regarding study selectioncriteria, inconsistent methods for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses ofstudies, and the lack of a clear framework for evaluating the weight ofevidence for establishing what causes adverse health effects. These problemshave persisted despite numerous attempts by the NAS, National Research Council(NRC), and members of Congress to compel change. [Click HERE toread the rest of the letter]

Back in2008, when a different (but likewise draconian) expansion of NAAQS was underdeliberation, NTU warned in an official comment filing that that “not all ofgovernment’s burdens come from taxes, fees, expenditures, and debts. Regulatorymandates … can be every bit as destructive as more overt fiscal policies.”Apparently toxic history can repeat itself.