Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Lamar Smith

Subcommittee on Research and Technology Hearing - Policies to Spur Innovative Medical Breakthroughs from Laboratories to Patients

2014/07/17


Subcommittee on Oversight and Subcommittee on Environment Joint Hearing - Status of Reforms to EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System

2014/07/16

Status of Reforms to EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System

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Subcommittee on Energy Hearing - Fusion Energy: The World’s Most Complex Energy Project

2014/07/11

Fusion Energy: The World’s Most Complex Energy Project

Hearing Charter

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Full Committee Hearing - Navigating the Clean Water Act: Is Water Wet?

2014/07/09

Navigating the Clean Water Act: Is Water Wet?

Hearing Charter

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Smith: Water Rule Part of EPA ‘Regulation Rampage’

2014/07/09

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today held a hearing to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule that expands the agency’s jurisdiction over “waters of the United States” regulated under the Clean Water Act. Members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns to EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe about the broad scope of the rule, which gives the EPA more control over Americans’ property.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The EPA’s rule is so vague that it does little more than extend an open invitation to trial lawyers and government drones. The American people are tired of an Administration that makes promises with its fingers crossed behind its back. Before the EPA invades the back yards of Americans, they should tell them what they are really doing. When Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, it was about water, not land.  But the EPA’s re-writing of the law is a terrifying expansion of federal control over the lands owned by the American people. The EPA is on a regulation rampage, and this new water rule proves it.”

Despite the stated intent to provide more clarity, the rule does not clearly define what is or is not considered “water.”  Instead, the rule gives the EPA power to evaluate what may be regulated on a case-by-case basis. According to the EPA, 59% of the “streams” the agency may claim to regulate are not always wet.  The EPA states that these places often only become wet after rain events and in some cases are so tiny or temporary that they don’t even appear on maps. 

In response to questions from members on both sides of the aisle, Deputy Administrator Perciasepe conceded that the definition of “water” under the rule is not clear and has been the source of many concerns raised by agricultural producers, manufacturing industries and landowners.  He further said that EPA should continue to work to clarify the definition of “water” under the rule.

The EPA’s website states that “streams” that could be covered by this rule include “a drizzle of snowmelt that runs down a mountainside crease, a small spring-fed pond, or a depression in the ground that fills with water after every rain and overflows into the creek below.”

When asked about the potential for EPA to claim jurisdiction over large landmasses, especially in the western U.S., Deputy Administrator Perciasepe admitted that EPA could claim jurisdiction over nearly all of land in western states if water is running over it at the time. According to the Congressional Research Service, penalties for violations under the Clean Water Act can be as much as $25,000 per day.

Members also raised concerns about the EPA intercepting questions about this rule from the Science Committee to EPA’s independent Science Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB was established to provide scientific advice to both the EPA and Congress.  However, Deputy Administrator Perciasepe claimed that the SAB’s independent experts answer to the EPA alone.

For additional information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

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Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Subcommittee on Oversight Joint Hearing - Technology for Patient Safety at Veterans Hospitals

2014/06/26

Technology for Patient Safety at Veterans Hospitals

Hearing Charter

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Subcommittees Examine Technologies to Prevent Infections at VA Hospitals

2014/06/26

Washington, D.C. – The Research & Technology and Oversight subcommittees today held a joint hearing to assess the potential benefits of new technologies to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). There have been high percentages of HAIs and mortality rates among patients at some Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. Research supported by the National Science Foundation in robotics, nanotechnology, and other areas of the biological sciences has helped to bring about technological innovations to prevent HAIs.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Hospital-acquired infections are a serious public health problem that affects patients in hospitals all across the country. A number of VA hospitals are among the worst in the United States in terms of inflicting preventable infections on their patients. American veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms. They deserve the best health care possible, as soon as possible.”

Hospital acquired infections are the most common complication of hospital care. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1.7 million HAIs per year in the U.S. causing or contributing to up to 99,000 deaths annually.

Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon M.D. (R-Ind.): “Just one organism—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA—kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and homicide. The better news is that there are some promising new, non-pharmaceutical innovations that can help to reduce HAI rates significantly, innovations that don’t seem to carry the possibility of eventual antibiotic resistance. These innovations have been developed from research in several scientific fields, including nanotechnology, robotics, computer science, and biology.”

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun M.D. (R-Ga.): “The principle function of our federal government under the Constitution is to provide for our national defense and take care of the men and women who have so bravely served our country with dignity and pride. We have made promises, and we must fulfill those promises for those who have sacrificed for us. Our veterans should receive the best care – there is no question about it.”

The following witnesses testified:

Dr. Chetan Jinadatha, Chief, Infectious Diseases, Central Texas Veterans Health Care SystemDr. Elaine Cox, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Director of Infection Prevention, Director of Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship, Riley Hospital for ChildrenDr. Trish M. Perl, Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Professor of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Senior Epidemiologist, Johns Hopkins MedicineMr. Jeff Smith, President, Electro-spec, Inc.Mr. Morris Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Xenex Disinfection Services

For additional information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

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What Is the EPA Hiding From the Public?

2014/06/25


Committee Reviews Report on Future of Human Spaceflight

2014/06/25

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today held a hearing to review the recommendations of a recent report conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) on the future of human spaceflight. 

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The administration’s continued focus on costly distractions is harmful to our space program and does not inspire future generations to go into innovative fields such as science and math. However, a distinguished panel of experts has concluded that a return to ‘extended surface operations on the moon’ would make significant contributions to landing people on Mars. The same has not been said for the Asteroid Retrieval Mission, which is a mission without a realistic budget, without a destination and without a certain launch date. We must rekindle within NASA the fire that blazed the trail to the moon.”

The NRC report, titled “Pathways to Exploration – Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration” was requested by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The report was co-chaired by Governor Mitch Daniels, who serves as President of Purdue University, and Dr. Jonathan Lunine, Director of Cornell University’s Center for Radiophysics and Space Research. Both Governor Daniels and Dr. Lunine testified today about their findings.

The report confirmed that NASA lacks a plan for human space exploration.  The NASA Authorization Act of 2014, which recently passed the House with bipartisan support, requires a detailed plan for how NASA will land humans on Mars.  The NRC’s report offers suggestions on the best way to reach that goal. The report also calls into question the Obama administration’s continued focus on the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), highlighting “an underlying concern that ARM would divert U.S. resources and attention” from other potential missions.

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss): “The National Research Council’s report clearly points to the need for a detailed plan and budget focus if we are to succeed at sending a manned mission to Mars. The NASA Authorization Act of 2014 which just passed the House of Representatives by a near unanimous vote includes a requirement that NASA develop a roadmap for the future of human exploration which defines key milestones and decision points for an expanded human presence in the solar system. The report also agreed with previous conclusions from this Committee that an Asteroid Retrieval Mission would lead to dead ends on the pathway approach.  I want to emphasize that statement and reiterate my thoughts that the ARM is a costly distraction, and I’m hopeful that NASA will take the recommendations of this report to heart.”

For additional information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

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Full Committee Hearing - Pathways to Exploration: A Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration

2014/06/25

Pathways to Exploration: A Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration

Hearing Charter

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Contact Information

2321 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-6371
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