Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Lamar Smith

Smith Op-ed: Let Technology Lead the Way

2014/09/24


Smith Statement on H.R. 2, the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act

2014/09/18

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.

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Smith on Dyslexia: We Can Turn Disability into Possibility

2014/09/18

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.

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Full Committee Hearing - The Science of Dyslexia

2014/09/18

The Science of Dyslexia

Hearing Charter

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Subcommittee Votes to Subpoena Todd Park on White House Role in HealthCare.gov Security

2014/09/17

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.

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Subcommittee on Oversight Business Meeting - Resolution Authorizing the Chairman to Issue Subpoenas

2014/09/17

Agenda:          Resolution Authorizing the Chairman to Issue Subpoenas                         Approved by a vote of 4:3                                                 Click HERE to view the recorded votes.

                         Member Memo

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White House, EPA: Regulations Will Have Minimal Impact on Climate Change

2014/09/17

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.

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Full Committee Hearing - The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design

2014/09/17

The Administration’s Climate Plan: Failure by Design

Hearing Charter  

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Smith Congratulates NASA Commercial Space Awardees

2014/09/16

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. 

 

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Curtain, reviews come down on taxpayer-funded climate change musical

2014/09/16


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Contact Information

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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