Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today submitted the following statement for the record during debate on the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act (H.R. 2).
Chairman Smith: “Today we consider H.R. 2, “the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act.” I thank the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Terry, for his initiative on this bill.
Title III of this bill includes H.R. 2850, “the Hydraulic Fracturing Study Improvement Act” that was reported out of the Science Committee last year.
The EPA has been conducting a “Study of the Potential Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources” since 2010.
Unfortunately, the EPA’s track record of sloppy and secret science and rushed conclusions suggest this study will be yet another attempt to justify new regulations to derail our shale gas revolution and the manufacturing renaissance.
The Science Committee language in Title III of this bill addresses a fundamental flaw in EPA’s hydraulic fracturing study design. Specifically, the current study is focused on a search for possible problems with hydraulic fracturing instead of identifying what is likely or probable.
EPA’s own Science Advisory Board has repeatedly recommended that the Agency focus on probabilities and uncertainties in its work.
The Science Committee provision addresses those concerns, and requires EPA to follow basic, objective scientific processes in carrying out its study. It also requires peer-review of any final or interim report before its release.
Problems with this study underscore EPA’s lack of transparency and serious flaws in its peer review process. EPA’s conclusions are used to justify billions of dollars in regulations. Science that supports public regulations should be public, not secret.
The Science Advisory Board was created to provide independent scientific advice to Congress and the EPA. However, EPA has hijacked this process.
EPA cherry-picked the reviewers. Among the 22 member Advisory Board panel that the EPA created to look at EPA’s hydraulic fracturing research, no member had experience in hydraulic fracturing or had an understanding of current industry practices.
The scientific panel that reviews EPA studies should be balanced and unbiased. And the data behind EPA regulations should be available for independent scientific review. These principles cannot be compromised.
I hope to bring H.R. 4012, “the Secret Science Reform Act,” and H.R. 1422, “the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013,” to the floor this fall to address these systemic problems.
The provisions in H.R. 2 are an important first step in ensuring the EPA adheres to these principles in their report on hydraulic fracturing.
More comprehensive EPA scientific reform is the next step we must take in the public’s interest. We cannot afford to wait.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I yield back the balance of my time.
Washington, D.C. - The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today held a hearing to examine the latest scientific research on dyslexia, the most common reading disability affecting one out of every five people. The hearing reviewed promising future research directions and treatments for people with dyslexia to overcome challenges they face, and explored educational opportunities for students with dyslexia in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “People with dyslexia think in a way that others do not. But typically in our school systems today there is not recognition, early detection, or enough teachers who are trained to spot symptoms of dyslexia early enough to get the students the intervention they need. That is why we have recently seen grass roots groups, like Decoding Dyslexia, form nationwide, and more specialized schools started to fill the gap. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these types of schools and the learning strategies they instill in their students to help them become successful. For most people, dyslexia is a disability. But if we change the way we approach it, we can turn disability into possibility and give millions of individuals a brighter and more productive future.”
Dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder characterized by difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal or above-average intelligence. The exact causes of dyslexia are not completely understood, but brain imaging studies show differences in the structure and function of the brains of people with dyslexia.
Witnesses today provided impassioned testimony about personal experiences with dyslexia and how they have helped others overcome this challenge through innovative and creative problem-solving. While dyslexia is considered a learning disability, many talented people—especially in science, engineering, and the creative arts—have been diagnosed with dyslexia, including Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems.
The National Science Foundation, an agency under the Science Committee’s jurisdiction, funds studies on dyslexia, and particularly, how dyslexic individuals view the universe differently due to visual-spatial skills. The lead astronomer and director of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute has dyslexia. The National Institute of Health also studies the neuroscience of dyslexia, as well as funding studies on how dyslexic students can best learn.
Witnesses today emphasized that despite common misunderstandings, dyslexia is not due to either a lack of intelligence or desire to learn, and with appropriate teaching methods, people with dyslexia can learn successfully. They also praised progress that has been made in the science behind dyslexia, saying that we don’t have a knowledge gap but gap in action. In other words, our current understanding of dyslexia is not fully utilized in either policy or practice.
Over 80 members of Congress have joined the bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Bill Cassidy and Julia Brownley. The caucus helps educate the public about dyslexia and advocates for policies that support those individuals who have dyslexia.
The following witnesses testified today: Panel I:Hon. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Member, U.S. House of RepresentativesHon. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Member, U.S. House of Representatives Panel II:Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and CreativityMs. Stacy Antie, parent and advocate of a child with dyslexia from Louisiana Key AcademyMr. Max Brooks, author and screenwriter who has dyslexiaDr. Peter Eden, Ph.D., President of Landmark CollegeDr. Guinevere Eden, Director of the Center for the Study of Learning
For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.Read More
Washington, D.C. – The Oversight Subcommittee today voted in favor of a resolution authorizing Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to issue a subpoena to former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, a top Assistant to President Obama during the launch of Healthcare.gov last November.
After refusing to testify, Mr. Park scheduled a briefing for Members of the Oversight Subcommittee on Wednesday September 10, 2014, regarding his management and oversight of the HealthCare.gov website, including security protocols. However, less than 24 hours in advance, the White House cancelled the briefing because they did not want any official transcript of the discussion.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Broun: “The Committee has invited Mr. Park to testify before us on five different occasions on his knowledge of privacy and security matters relating to the Affordable Care Act website, HealthCare.gov. We have written directly to Mr. Park, as well as the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), but to no avail. The Committee’s concerns about HealthCare.gov are well known, as we have held two hearings since the website’s botched launch last October. Additionally, recent reports about a successful hack of the website have further raised the stakes on the need to ensure Americans who log on to HealthCare.gov later this year are safe from cyber criminals.
“The Committee did not receive these documents from OSTP, despite requesting them in a letter last December. That is one part of the reason for today’s meeting. It is inexcusable for an agency, of which this Committee has complete jurisdiction, to not provide records from a request made nine months ago. The other reason for today’s meeting is that it would certainly appear, upon reading the contents of some of the e-mails, that Mr. Park has more knowledge about the website than either he or OSTP has represented to Congress.”
In his opening remarks, Chairman Broun laid out a brief timeline of emails that were obtained by the Committee raising questions about Mr. Park’s role and knowledge of security issues prior to October 1, 2013, as the website was being built.
The subpoena would require the White House to provide documents and emails pertaining to Todd Park’s role in development of the website. It will also oblige Mr. Park to appear before the Oversight Subcommittee to provide testimony under oath. Mr. Park, who recently stepped down as Chief Technology Officer, was the co-chair of the White House’s Affordable Care Act Information Technology Exchanges Steering Committee, a body responsible for overseeing security protocols during development of the Healthcare.gov website.Read More
Agenda: Resolution Authorizing the Chairman to Issue Subpoenas Approved by a vote of 4:3 Click HERE to view the recorded votes.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Members of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today questioned the president’s science advisor, Dr. John Holdren, and the top EPA air official, Janet McCabe, on the costs and impacts of the administration’s Climate Action Plan and proposed EPA power plant regulations.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Today we look at one of the most aggressive new government programs in our country’s history. The cornerstone of the White House sweeping Climate Action Plan is EPA’s power plant regulation. Extending well beyond the power plants themselves, this rule will increase the cost of electricity and the cost of doing business. In fact, EPA’s own data show us that its power plant regulation would eliminate less than one percent of global carbon emissions. Analysis shows this would reduce sea level rise by the thickness of a mere three sheets of paper. EPA’s mandates will be difficult for states to meet even under ideal circumstances. If energy prices or energy demand escalate, the costs of meeting those mandates will soar and American families will be forced to pay the bill.”
In response to questions about the impact of EPA’s proposed power plant regulations, both Dr. Holdren and Ms. McCabe conceded that they will have a very small impact on global climate change. Dr. Holdren indicated that the only way to make a real impact is if other nations, including China, voluntarily choose to reduce their own emissions. Chairman Smith pointed out that by the year 2030 the EPA’s proposed power plant rules will only offset thirteen and a half days of equivalent Chinese emissions, but will significantly impact the U.S. economy.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified in July before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the proposed rules are “not about pollution control,” and repeatedly emphasized that EPA views its rule as an investment opportunity in renewables and clean energy. Members today questioned the economics and costs of these actions. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently published a report finding EPA’s proposal will cost the U.S. economy $50 billion per year through 2020.
At a hearing in July, the Committee heard numerous concerns about the administration’s approach, including from The Honorable Charles McConnell, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Energy (DOE) appointed by President Obama. Mr. McConnell declared his frustration in a recent op-ed, asking, “Has this administration convinced itself that it can fly over the public utility commissions and mandate something that is fundamentally useless? Does the EPA think the American public and global community are not capable of seeing the illusion for what it is?”
For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.Read More
Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today after NASA announced awardees for the final phase of its Commercial Crew program.
Chairman Smith: “I congratulate Boeing and SpaceX on their achievements in the Commercial Crew Program. Both companies and the thousands of people they employ have a crucial task before them as they work to further U.S. space exploration. They also have a responsibility to the U.S. taxpayers who are making considerable contributions to the development of these commercial space capabilities.
“As Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I look forward to the time when we once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. The days of paying Russians $70 million per astronaut for access to the International Space Station must come to an end as soon as possible. I look forward to working with these companies and NASA, to end our reliance on foreign carriers by ensuring safe, reliable, timely, and cost effective transportation to the International Space Station. This is a good day for our nation's space program and for all Americans.”
The Commercial Crew program represents one of the first NASA partnerships using taxpayer dollars to fund commercial space development. By the time the next phase begins, taxpayers will have provided approximately $1.5 billion to develop these capabilities, and more may be required for future service contracts.
Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today officially noticed a meeting of the Oversight Subcommittee for Wednesday, September 17, 2014, to enable Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) to issue a subpoena to former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, a top Assistant to President Obama during the launch of HealthCare.gov last November.
After refusing to testify before the Science Committee on multiple occasions without a subpoena, Science Advisor to the President John Holdren offered for Mr. Park to brief the Oversight Subcommittee. Mr. Park scheduled a briefing for Members of the Oversight Subcommittee on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, regarding his management and oversight of the HealthCare.gov website, including security protocols. However, less than 24 hours in advance, the White House cancelled the briefing because they did not want any official transcript of the discussion.
Chairman Smith: “The White House has failed to provide this Committee with information about the security of the Obamacare website. This week, the administration cancelled a briefing less than 24 hours in advance because they did not want it to be on-the-record. What is the White House trying to hide? The Obama administration has a responsibility to ensure that the personal and financial data collected by the government is secure. Last week, news reports revealed that a hacker successfully breached the Obamacare website in July. And we don’t know how many other security breaches have gone unreported. The American people deserve transparency and accountability for the security of their personal information on HealthCare.gov. That is why the Oversight Subcommittee next week will vote to subpoena this information, compelling Mr. Park to testify under oath.”
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Broun: “Since October 31st of last year, the Committee has invited Todd Park on five occasions to testify at a hearing about his knowledge of the website HealthCare.gov. The Committee also made a comprehensive request of OSTP for relevant records. To date, OSTP has failed to comply with the Committee’s requests as Members have yet to question Mr. Park about HealthCare.gov, nor have we received all responsive documents from OSTP as evidenced by those in the Committee’s possession from sources other than OSTP. OSTP’s response to the Committee is intolerable, and makes me question what other documents might be withheld not just from this Committee, but from other congressional committees. I appreciate Chairman Smith’s willingness to enable the Oversight Subcommittee to move forward with a subpoena, and I look forward to finally getting some answers from Mr. Park about HealthCare.gov.”
Emails obtained by the Science Committee between Mr. Park and his colleagues appear to contradict his previous congressional testimony. The subpoena would require the White House to provide all documents and emails pertaining to Todd Park’s involvement in development of the website. It will also oblige Mr. Park to appear before the Oversight Subcommittee to provide testimony under oath. Mr. Park, who recently stepped down as Chief Technology Officer, was the co-chair of the White House’s Affordable Care Act Information Technology Exchanges Steering Committee, a body responsible for overseeing security protocols during development of the HealthCare.gov website.Read More
Washington, D.C. – The Space Subcommittee today held a hearing to review issues facing planetary exploration of our solar system, including NASA’s proposed budget for planetary science, and potential commercial interests. Witnesses also testified on the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities In Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act, H.R. 5063.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Congress has made it clear, on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, that we value the planetary science community and the important work they do. Planetary science missions help lay the ground work for manned missions. If the administration does not support planetary science, how can they claim to have serious interest in human space exploration? The president’s budget requests have made it clear that this administration does not consider planetary science a priority. Over the past two years, the Obama administration has significantly cut funding for NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”
In May, the House passed the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (H.R. 4660) by a bipartisan vote of 321 to 87. The bill provides $170 million more to the Planetary Science Division than the president’s budget request for FY15.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations also approved a bill that would provide $23 million above the president’s request.
Witnesses also testified on the merits of the ASTEROIDS Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.). The bill addresses property rights issues for commercial and private entities interested in utilizing resources found in asteroids.
Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): “It is no secret that this committee has expressed significant skepticism with regards to the President’s current proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission or ARM. NASA’s own experts have been critical of the plan. While I am indeed interested in the opportunities offered by near-Earth objects, I continue to be concerned that the administration is not heeding the warnings of these experts for the mission that it has designed. The “American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space Act,” or Asteroids Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Posey and Congressman Kilmer. It is my sincere hope that the administration will stop spending time on poorly designed and executed missions such as ARM and look to the private sector and scientists for input on the best way to maximize our limited resources.”
The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:
Dr. Jim Green, Director, NASA Planetary Science DivisionDr. Jim Bell, Professor of Earth and Space Science Exploration, Arizona State University, and President, Board of Directors, The Planetary SocietyDr. Mark Sykes, CEO and Director, Planetary Science InstituteJoanne Gabrynowicz, Professor Emerita, Director Emerita, Journal of Space Law Editor-in-Chief Emerita, University of MississippiDr. Philip Christensen, Co-Chair, NRC Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS), Chair, Mars Panel, NRC Planetary Decadal Survey, Regents Professor, Arizona State University
For additional information on today’s hearing, including witness testimony, you can visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.Read More
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