Congress calls out the EPA

One group in Congress which doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the media is the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and, in particular, the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. Their chairman, Andy Harris (R-MD) sent a letter to the EPA this week which was probably long overdue. In it, he calls on EPA chair Lisa Jackson to explain what he identifies as a very disturbing pattern of behavior when it comes to natural gas drilling and the agency’s somewhat “casual” approach to science.

Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting information and documents related to the Agency’s activities with respect to hydraulic fracturing.

The letter outlines concerns over “EPA’s confusing and questionable approach to hydraulic fracturing,” summarizing three highly publicized instances in which the EPA leapt to scientific conclusions before having all the facts, only to later retract or revise its claims.

“These examples, while individually very troubling, collectively suggest EPA is not objectively pursuing an improved understanding of the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water,” Chairman Harris says in the letter. Instead, Harris asserts that EPA “is determined to find fault with the technology in order to justify sweeping new regulations.”

While the Chairman outlines some very specific instances where the EPA has been caught blatantly politicizing their mission, making up facts to suit their agenda and then having to recant on their “findings,” this letter takes a much needed additional step. Simply getting Lisa Jackson and company to retract individual mistakes doesn’t really address the larger problem. What Harris seems to be bringing to light is a repeating pattern and fundamental problems with the agency’s core processes.

One would think that if you are charged with a mission involving a scientific approach to environmental management, you would start with a question such as, “what are the impacts of the proposed process?” You would then gather facts and evidence and allow those findings to lead you to the best course of action, assuming any action is required at all. Under Jackson, it certainly appears that the EPA is starting with a question of, “How can we justify creating new regulations to restrict private activity?” and then finding the “facts” which best fit their needs.

That’s not science. It’s a political agenda in action. You can read the full text of the Chairman’s letter here.

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