Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Lamar Smith

Full Committee Hearing - Review of the Results of Two Audits of the National Ecological Observatory Network

2014/12/03

Review of the Results of Two Audits of the National Ecological Observatory Network

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Smith Statement on EPA Ozone Proposal

2014/11/26

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone:

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “We all want healthy communities and a clean environment. But more job-killing mandates from Washington are not the solution. The EPA’s new ozone regulations could be the most expensive ever. Yet the EPA has ignored the law that requires a thorough analysis of the regulation’s negative impacts. Most of the benefits EPA claims are based on data that is concealed from the public and independent scientists. At a time when 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be public, the EPA refuses to listen.  The House of Representatives last week sent a strong message when it passed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 that would require the EPA’s regulations to be based on public information. Hardworking American families deserve transparency and accountability. But the EPA makes back-room deals with environmental special interest groups pushing an extremist political agenda.”

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Smith Congratulates Student Launch Challenge Teams

2014/11/21

Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement congratulating students chosen from around the country to participate in the 2014-2015 NASA Student Launch Challenge:

Chairman Smith: “Congratulations to the students chosen to participate in this competition. NASA’s education and public outreach is an important element of STEM education. These are the students we must inspire to pursue STEM careers so they can help us blaze the trail to the next frontier."

NASA has selected eight teams from middle and high schools across the country to participate in the 2014-2015 competition organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, which will take place April 7-12, 2015.

Teams that participating in the competition must design, build and launch a reusable rocket, with a scientific or engineering payload, capable of reaching an altitude of one mile.

The 2014-2015 middle and high school teams who will compete are:

  • Durham Area Rocketry, Durham, North Carolina
  • Krueger Middle School, San Antonio, Texas
  • Madison West High School (Land Imaging), Madison, Wisconsin
  • Madison West High School (Muons), Madison, Wisconsin
  • Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida
  • Spring Grove High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania
  • St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, Akron, Ohio
  • Victory Christian Center School, Charlotte, North Carolina

NASA Student Launch is open to middle and high school students, and university and college students. The program is intended to advance education in science, technology, engineering and math and expose students to careers in aeronautics and aerospace.

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House Passes Bill to Usher in New Era of EPA Transparency

2014/11/19

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012). The legislation requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to base its regulations on data that is public.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Costly environmental regulations should only be based upon data that is available to independent scientists and the public. However, the EPA does not adhere to this practice.  Nearly every major air quality regulation from this administration has been justified by data that has been kept secret. This bill requires the EPA to base its decisions on information to which all scientists have access.  This will promote sound science and confidence in the EPA decision making process. This bill ensures the transparency and accountability that the American people want and deserve."

The Secret Science Reform Act was introduced by Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and has received letters of support from over 80 scientists and experts, including the former head of the EPA Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and the former head of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.  It also enjoys the support of 30 national and state trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufactures.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.): “The Secret Science Reform Act rules 'secret science' a condition of the past. Public policy should come from public data. Unfortunately, for far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country without public evidence to justify all their actions. This common-sense legislation forces the EPA to be transparent and accountable with their findings."

The Secret Science Reform Act requires that the EPA base its regulations on publically available and verifiable information without compromising protections for personal information.

A 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be public. Provisions in the bill are consistent with White House policy, the data access provisions of major scientific journals, and the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Obama administration’s top science advisors. The Chair of EPA’s own Science Advisory Board testified that EPA’s advisors recommend “that literature and data used by EPA be peer-reviewed and made available to the public."

The Secret Science Reform Act affirms laws prohibiting the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information.  The Act is not retroactive; it applies only to new, future regulations issued by the agency.  The bill forges a new path forward embracing scientific integrity and open government.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): “Transparency and accountability should be a priority for every government agency—and the EPA is no exception. After the House passed our bill today, we are one step closer to finally changing the way things are done at the EPA. Since the American people are paying the price for these expensive regulations they deserve to see the science used to justify them."

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Park Admits President Knew in Advance about HealthCare.gov Problems

2014/11/19

Washington, D.C. – The Oversight Subcommittee today heard from Mr. Todd Park, a former top aide to President Obama who was the White House point-man for the development and rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. Mr. Park testified that he did in fact brief the president on concerns about the website before it was launched.

Over the course of the past year, the Science Committee has repeatedly asked for Mr. Park to testify before the Committee about the security of HealthCare.gov.  On September 17, 2014, the Subcommittee on Oversight approved the issuance of a subpoena, compelling Mr. Park’s appearance today.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Americans have seen first-hand the misrepresentations that surround Obamacare.  First, there was the President’s broken promise that ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ Then, in a video that surfaced last week, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, a principal architect of Obamacare, admitted how the Administration sold this to the American people. Finally, as of today, the White House still has failed to provide this Committee with all the documents that are subject to the subpoena.  The ones we do have paint a far different picture than that of the Office of Science and Technology Policy."

Despite Mr. Park denying that he had detailed knowledge of security and testing prior to the rollout of the website on October 1, 2013, the Committee has obtained many emails where Mr. Park demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of these issues. A recently released interim Majority Staff Report lays out a timeline of events and emails raising further questions about what the White House knew. But as of today, the White House has failed to provide all of the emails and documents covered under the subpoena.

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.): “Mr. Park, I find your and the White House’s lack of transparency intolerable and an obstruction to this Committee’s efforts to conduct oversight.  It took a subpoena to get you here.  It took another subpoena to compel your documents from the White House, but even with that, we have yet to receive all of your documents in compliance with our subpoena. That begs the question – what are you hiding, Mr. Park?"

Members today questioned Mr. Park about what he knew and what he reported to other senior White House officials about security concerns.  They also highlighted the fact that the Obamacare website was recently hacked this summer, and according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, still has weaknesses “both in the processes used for managing information security and privacy as well as the technical implementation of IT security controls."

For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the hearing webcast, visit the Committee website.

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Subcommittee on Oversight Hearing - The Role of the White House Chief Technology Officer in the HealthCare.gov Website Debacle

2014/11/19

The Role of the White House Chief Technology Officer in the HealthCare.gov Website Debacle

Hearing Charter

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Smith Letter to OSTP Demanding Compliance with Subpoena

2014/11/18

This letter can be found HERE.

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House Passes Bill to Boost Scientific Integrity

2014/11/18

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013 (H.R.1422), introduced by former Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah).  The bill makes changes to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to enhance public participation, improve the process for selecting expert advisors, expand transparency requirements and limit non-scientific policy advice.  The bill passed by a vote of 229-191.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The EPA has an extensive track record of twisting the science to justify their actions. Behind the scenes, however, there is a review process that can provide a critical check on the agency’s conclusions. The EPA’s Science Advisory Board was intended to provide a meaningful, balanced, and independent assessment of the science that supports regulations. Unfortunately, this vision is not being realized. The EPA undermines the Board’s independence and prevents it from providing advice to Congress.  As a result, the valuable advice these experts can provide is wasted. At a time when the agency is pursuing the most aggressive regulatory agenda in its 44 year history, it is critical that the Board function as intended."

Established by Congress in 1978, the SAB plays an important role in reviewing the scientific foundation of EPA regulatory decisions and advising the agency broadly on science and technology-related matters.

Rep. Stewart: “Through the EPA, the Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing costly regulations that impact nearly every sector of the American economy. These rules should be based on sound scientific assertions and conclusions. It’s critical that we have a balanced panel of experts operating in an open and transparent way. This bill improves that process in key areas."

To address current deficiencies in EPA’s scientific advisory process, H.R. 1422:

  • Strengthens public participation and public comment opportunities.
  • Improves the make-up of SAB and its sub-panels by reinforcing peer review requirements regarding balance and independence.  The bill also reduces potential conflicts of interest by requiring enhanced disclosure of members’ financial relationships relevant to board activities.
  • Requires opportunities for dissenting panelists to make their views known.
  • Requires communication of uncertainties in scientific findings and conclusions.
  • Limits non-scientific policy advice and recommendations, while requiring explicit disclosure of such advice when SAB feels compelled to provide it.
  • Reiterates that the EPA’s SAB is to be fully and independently responsive to the Congress

The provisions in this bill draw upon recent recommendations from the Keystone Center’s Research Integrity Roundtable, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and other stakeholders, as well as relevant testimony received by the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology during the 112th and 113th Congresses.

H.R. 1422 has received support from 32 organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Farm Bureau.

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House Approves Bipartisan Low-Dose Radiation Research Bill

2014/11/17

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed the Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2014 (H.R. 5544), a bipartisan bill introduced by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) to increase our understanding of low-dose radiation.  This type of research has been touted as critical for physicians and decision-makers to more accurately assess potential health risks in this area. H.R. 5544 passed by voice vote.

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Broun: “I am pleased by the bipartisan efforts of my colleagues to advance this common-sense bill and help resolve what we do not yet know in the field of low-dose radiation. Every day, more humans are exposed to a wide range of low-dose background radiation – but there exists only limited research on the health-risks associated with low-dose radiation. This bill seeks to address the current gaps in knowledge by leveraging the nation’s current expertise in the area, and then proposing a long-term strategy to tackle the issue. At the same time, this legislation does not authorize any additional funds and requires the Department of Energy to carry out this work using only their existing appropriated funds. This bill is a common-sense win, and I hope that Senator Reid and President Obama will act swiftly in passing this vital legislation and signing it into law."

Many Americans are exposed to a broad range of low doses of ionizing radiation, ranging from cosmic background radiation to medically based procedures, which include X-rays and CT scans.  The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Low Dose Radiation Research Program within the Office of Science focuses on the health effects of ionizing radiation and resolving the uncertainties in this area that currently exist.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Our current approach to radiation safety relies on an outdated assumption that because high doses of radiation are harmful that much lower radiation doses are also harmful.  This assumption is not based on a reliable scientific foundation and prevents patients from making informed decisions about diagnostic exams and can lead to overly restrictive regulations. Unfortunately, the Low-Dose Radiation Research program has not been a priority at DOE in recent years and has seen systematic budget cuts. This bill ensures the continuance of important research conducted through this program."

H.R. 5544 directs the National Academies to formulate a long-term strategy to resolve uncertainties of whether and to what extent low-dose radiation may pose health risks to humans.  The bill also stipulates that the Academies must consider the most up-to-date studies in this field of research. Finally, it requires DOE to develop a five-year research plan that responds to the Academies’ recommendations.

H.R. 5544 now awaits consideration by the U.S. Senate.

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Smith: EPA Water Rule is Reckless

2014/11/14

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today is submitting hundreds of pages of comments to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging the agency to withdraw its controversial “Waters of the U.S.” proposal.

Chairman Smith: “The ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal makes clear that the EPA wants to control a huge amount of private property across the United States.  This could be the largest expansion ever of EPA’s authority to regulate private property. But the Obama administration continues to sidestep scientific integrity in order to fast track an abusive regulatory agenda.  From the start, the EPA failed to incorporate adequate peer-reviewed science in accordance with the agency’s own statutory obligations.  This proposal is premature, arbitrary and inadequately supported by the record. A founding promise of our nation is that the government cannot take what the people have not freely given. The EPA should listen to the American people and withdraw the proposed rule.”

The proposed rule redefines “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  Experts have testified that the definition is so broad that it effectively gives the EPA control over all man-made and natural bodies of water in the U.S., including those on private property or those that aren’t even wet.

In August, Committee oversight revealed that the EPA secretly assembled detailed maps of waters and wetlands for all 50 states.  At the time, the agency claimed that the maps had not yet been used for regulatory purposes.  However, the EPA failed to explain why it paid a private contractor to create these maps, and the details of the arrangement remain murky. Chairman Smith sent a letter to EPA demanding additional information about the agency’s motivation for having the detailed maps assembled.  EPA has not responded.

The copy of Chairman Smith’s cover letter to the formal comments can be found here.

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Contact Information

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Fax 202-226-0113
science.house.gov


Membership

Jim Bridenstine

OKLAHOMA's 1st DISTRICT

Mo Brooks

ALABAMA's 5th DISTRICT

Paul Broun

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Larry Bucshon

INDIANA's 8th DISTRICT

Chris Collins

NEW YORK's 27th DISTRICT

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

Ralph Hall

TEXAS' 4th DISTRICT

Randy Hultgren

ILLINOIS' 14th DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Cynthia Lummis

WYOMING

Thomas Massie

KENTUCKY's 4th DISTRICT

Michael McCaul

TEXAS' 10th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Steven Palazzo

MISSISSIPPI's 4th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

David Schweikert

ARIZONA's 6th DISTRICT

Jim Sensenbrenner

WISCONSIN's 5th DISTRICT

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Steve Stockman

TEXAS' 36th DISTRICT

Randy Weber

TEXAS' 14th DISTRICT