Monday, June 23, 2014

WSJ Op-Ed: What Is the EPA Hiding From the Public? Open the research to outside analysis

What Is the EPA Hiding From the Public?

The agency shouldn't get to decide who sees the science behind its rules. Open the research to outside analysis.

June 23, 2014 6:45 p.m. ET    THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The climate is changing and, yes, humans play a role. But that does not mean, as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy would have us believe, that the debate—over how much the climate is changing, how big a role humans play, and what can reasonably done about it—is over. Still less does it mean that anyone who questions her agency's actions, particularly the confidential research it uses to justify multimillion and billion-dollar air rules, is a denier at war with science.

The EPA's regulatory process today is a closed loop. The agency funds the scientific research it uses to support its regulations, and it picks the supposedly independent (but usually agency-funded) scientists to review it. When the regulations are challenged, the courts defer to the agency on scientific issues. But the agency refuses to make public the scientific research it uses.

The House Science Committee will vote Tuesday on legislation to open up this closed loop. The Secret Science Reform Act, which I co-sponsored, has a simple goal: EPA regulations should be based on legitimate science and data that are open to the public.

Scientific journals in a variety of disciplines have moved toward data transparency. Ms. McCarthy sees this effort as a threat. Speaking before the National Academy of Sciences in late April, she defended her agency's need to protect data "from those who are not qualified to analyze it."

The EPA essentially decides who is or is not allowed access to the scientific research they use—research that is paid for with public funds, appropriated by Congress, on behalf of American taxpayers. This is wholly improper.

I recently received a letter of support for the Secret Science Reform Act that was signed by more than 80 scientists, including physicians, and professors of environmental science, physics, statistics, economics and engineering. The signatories included George Wolff, former chair of the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee in the Clinton administration and Forrest J. Remick, former commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the George H.W. Bush administration. They wrote that the bill would "make the agency's regulations more accountable, credible, and enforceable" and that its transparency requirements "can be accomplished without imposing unnecessary burdens, discouraging research, or raising confidentiality concerns."

Costly environmental regulations must be based on publicly available data that independent scientists can verify. For example, take the administration's recently proposed plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants—regulations that could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and spike electricity rates.

In the announcement of her agency's 645-page Clean Power Plan, Ms. McCarthy claimed "The science is clear. The risks are clear. And the high costs of climate inaction keep piling up." Yet any reporter willing to read beyond the EPA press release would find that the reality doesn't match the rhetoric.

Monday's Supreme Court decision (Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA) underscores the need for scrutiny of agency claims. The court called EPA's rewriting of the Clean Air Act "outrageous," and said that "When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate 'a significant portion of the American economy,' we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism." Such skepticism is well deserved.

Virtually all of the EPA's health claims for its latest power-plant rules, including that they would save thousands of lives a year, are based on data that haven't been made public. In any event, for most of the EPA's 2030 projections, a majority of the health benefits claimed have nothing to do with carbon dioxide. They come from reductions in air pollutants already regulated by the EPA such as particulate matter and ozone.

The EPA also claims that its Clean Power Plan will yield climate benefits, such as lower sea levels, which the agency calculates using its "social cost of carbon." But a recent analysis by Ted Gayer, vice president and director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution, found that most of these alleged benefits take place outside the U.S. Even using the EPA's own numbers, the costs of this regulation may exceed the direct, domestic benefits.

The EPA, like every other government institution, should be accountable to the American people. We need to protect our environment, but this should be done on the basis of open and honest information. That is the goal of the Secret Science Reform Act.

Mr. Smith, a Republican from Texas, is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.


  1. The Galaxy-sunspots-climate connection finally revealed!
    The huge electric galactic center-magnetar sends electricity to all the Milky-way [1. Eatough R. P. et al]. In our solar system, mostly Jupiter and secondly the other planets periodically divert a part of this electricity (that stimulates them) from its course to the Sun, causing him a solar minimum and to the Earth more atmospheric and magma stimulation: more thunderbolts [2. Gurevich A.] (even from CLEAR sky, without clouds), storms, quakes [3. Simpson J., Jain R.] and volcanic eruptions-clouding-glacials [4. Ebisuzaki et al], all AVERTABLE with proper MESHES [] over active craters and the equator, where from most electricity hits our planet.
    The reason why the sunspot cycle is averagely 11 years is because the charge-discharge of Jupiter lasts as long as it takes him to evolve around the Sun and it depends on the other planets’ positions [5. Wilson I. R. G.].
    1.A strong magnetic field around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy R. P. Eatough et al
    A magnetar at the heart of our Milky Way
    - J. A. Kennea et al. Swift Discovery of a new soft gamma repeater, SGR J1745-29, near Sagittarius A*, Astrophysical Journal Letters 770, L24, 2013
- K. Mori et al. NuSTAR discovery of a 3.76-second transient magnetar near Sagittarius A* 
Astrophysical Journal Letters 770, L23, 2013
- R. M. Shannon, S. Johnston Radio properties of the magnetar near Sagittarius A* from observations with the Australia Telescope Compact Array Monthly Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. (MNRAS) Letters, August 14, 2013
    - Intergalactic Medium Emission Observations with the Cosmic Web Imager: I. The Circum-QSO Medium of QSO 1549+19, and Evidence for a Filamentary Gas Inflow
    Martin, D. Cet al (2014) Intergalactic Medium Emission Observations with the Cosmic Web Imager: I. The Circum-QSO Medium of QSO 1549+19, and Evidence for a Filamentary Gas Inflow.Astrophysical Journal, 768 (2). Art. No. 106. ISSN
    - Intergalactic Medium Emission Observations with the Cosmic Web Imager. II. Discovery of Extended, Kinematically-Linked Emission around SSA22 Lyα Blob 2
    Martin, D. Et al 2014,Intergalactic Medium Emission Observations with the Cosmic Web Imager. II. Discovery of Extended, Kinematically-Linked Emission around SSA22 Lyα Blob 2. Astrophysical Journal, 786 (2). Art. No. 107. ISSN 0004-637X
    On the Galactic Center Being the Main Source of Galactic Cosmic Rays as Evidenced by Recent Cosmic Ray and Gamma Ray Observations – Guo Y. et al
    2. The observed electric fields in thunderclouds are generally too weak to initiate the atmosphere’s electrical breakdown. But COSMIC RAYS can play a surprising role in the drama of LIGHTNING: A. V. Gurevich and K. P. Zybin, Runaway Breakdown and the Mysteries of Lightning
    - Solar activity as a triggering mechanism for earthquakes – Simpson J.…3..417S
    - Solar flares trigger earthquakes – Jain, R., Physical Research Laboratory.
    EACH of the 682 >4.0 EARTHQUAKES under study was preceded by a SOLAR FLARE of B to X class by 10-100 hrs
    -2011 March 9th ended with a powerful SOLAR FLARE. In addition, on March 10, 2011 around 0630 UT, a CORONAL MASS EJECTION did strike a glaceing blow to Earth’s magnetic field
    4. Explosive volcanic eruptions triggered by cosmic rays: Volcano as a bubble chamber
    Ebisuzaki T et al
    5. The Venus–Earth–Jupiter spin–orbit coupling model, I. R. G. Wilson.

  2. The idea that CO2 effects climate is conjecture. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. There is none in the paleoclimate record In the Earth's atmosphere, the primary greenhouse gas is H2O and it provides ample negative feedbacks to changes in other greenhouse gases so as to mitigate any effect they might have on climate The IPCC generated a plethora of climate models hoping to use them as evidence that AGW is real. The models have failed to predict today's global temperatures. They have predicted global warming that has not happened. The models are wrong. In the IPCC's latest report, they quotes a range of values for the possible climate sensitivity of CO2. What they quoted was the same values that they quoted more than two decades ago. So after studying the problem for more than two decades the IPCC has learned nothing.

    It is doubtful that what the EPA wants to do would have any significant effect on global CO2 levels. And even if they did, it is even more doubtful that what the EPA wants to do would have any effect on global climate. There are many good reasons to be reducing our use of fossil fuels but climate change is not one of them