Government Bytes


More “Toxic”Research at EPA?

by Pete Sepp / /

As these pages have long depicted, excessive government paperwork and overbearing regulations can cost taxpayers and consumers dearly, sometimes doing as much damage as high taxes, pork-barrel spending, or reckless borrowing.

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

So it was with little surprise (but lots of concern) that we learned of a new controversy surrounding EPA’s research. Last week Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) sent an exhaustive 11-page letter to the EPA’s Lisa Jackson questioning scientific methods used by her agency in issuing risk assessments, following deficiencies identified by the National Academy of Science (NAS) in their review of EPA’s draft risk assessment for formaldehyde. 

The Senators raise the valid point that the fundamental problems raised by NAS warrant reconsideration of all EPA risk assessments that use the same methods, including the agency’s ongoing revision to its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) for ozone, which is due to be released later this month. 

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

Dear Administrator Jackson:

On June 15, 2011, you testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. At that hearing, we emphasized the serious nature of the scientific concerns raised by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in its recent critique of EPA’s draft risk assessment for formaldehyde, Review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft IRIS Assessment of Formaldehyde (“NAS Formaldehyde Report”). The NAS report highlights that for over a decade EPA has continued to err in its risk assessments from issues such as a lack of information regarding study selection criteria, inconsistent methods for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of studies, and the lack of a clear framework for evaluating the weight of evidence for establishing what causes adverse health effects. These problems have persisted despite numerous attempts by the NAS, National Research Council (NRC), and members of Congress to compel change. [Click HERE to read the rest of the letter]

Back in 2008, when a different (but likewise draconian) expansion of NAAQS was under deliberation, NTU warned in an official comment filing that that “not all of government’s burdens come from taxes, fees, expenditures, and debts. Regulatory mandates … can be every bit as destructive as more overt fiscal policies.” Apparently toxic history can repeat itself.