Mo Brooks

Mo Brooks


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Brooks Questions EPA Administrator on Misguided Ozone Rule


Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), at a Science Committee hearing, questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy concerning the critical flaws of the underlying science used to justify the EPA’s rule for ozone pollution standards.  The ozone regulations, which are backed by the agency’s political agenda, not sound science, will hurt American industry and cost unreasonable amounts to implement, all for little to no environmental benefit.  While studies conducted by the EPA show ozone levels have dramatically declined since 1980, nevertheless, in 2014, the agency determined to lower the standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a stringent 70 ppb.

Citing a letter issued by the Science Committee to the EPA in 2015, Congressman Brooks asked Administrator McCarthy to address concerns that the proposed ozone rule was based heavily on a single, flawed study, which was unable to replicate key results found in two other studies.  Further, Brooks questioned McCarthy on the committee’s request for EPA documents concerning the ozone rule to aid in their oversight role.  In response to the committee’s request, the agency provided a collection of documents with massive amounts of redactions.  Brooks secured a commitment from Administrator McCarthy during today’s hearing to provide the full text of these documents.

Congressman Brooks said, “The EPA’s job-killing agenda undermines America’s economy while driving up the cost of living for struggling American families.  These expansive policy changes, and others, inflict unnecessary economic harm on our communities and increase costs on American families, all with little or no scientific basis to validate the pursuits.”              

Earlier this month, Brooks voted in favor of House passed legislation to aptly delay the implementation of these ozone standards from 2020 to 2026,  allowing regulators the opportunity to fully vet the proposed standards, and consider the cost and impact on local governments who face hefty fines if unable to comply.  It passed 234-177, with seven Democratic votes, but the bill will likely be vetoed by President Obama.

Rep. Brooks’ remarks from the hearing are available HERE.

Transcript of Rep. Brooks’ Q&A:

Chairman Smith: Mr. Brooks is recognized for his questions.

Rep. Brooks: Thank you Mr. Chairman. On August 31, 2015, I along with 17 other Members of this committee sent you a letter regarding concerns about the ozone national ambient air quality standards that were in the process of being finalized. The final ozone rule was issued in October of last year. Mr. Chairman I would like to enter into the record our letter dated August 31, 2015.

Mr. Chairman: Without objection, so ordered.

Rep. Brooks: Several committee hearings in 2015 raised serious doubts about the underlying science used to justify the proposed ozone rule. You’ve acknowledge two distinct sets of scientific studies used during the rule making process. The first set contains large population studies which you yourself acknowledge as being unreliable. The second set are human exposure studies of which there are only four such studies that the EPA and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee both reviewed. In particular, the committee’s letter raised concerns that the proposed ozone rule is based on a single study by Schelegle of just 31 individuals. Thirty one individuals, remarkably small and unreliable sample size. More disconcerting, was the inability of the Schelegle study to replicate key results from two other studies as we clearly stated in this August 2015 letter. In other words, your entire rule depends on one study. Administrator McCarthy do you agree that the basis for the ozone rule relies heavily on this one study by Schelegle?

Administrator McCarthy: Well actually sir I believe it’s part of the weight of the evidence approach where we have thousands of studies that have been generated over decades. Ozone is perhaps the…

Rep. Brooks: OK that’s not answering my question. Please just answer my question. Do you agree that the ozone rule relies heavily on this one study by Schelegle? Yes or No?

Administrator McCarthy: No sir I don’t think in an extraordinary way. I think it relies on the entire weight of the evidence before us. There are a thousand new studies that were considered in the latest ozone standard.

Rep. Brooks: As a party to this committee’s oversight investigation we requested documents concerning the ozone rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has produced documents to the committee with massive amounts of redactions. Administrator McCarthy, these are apparently power point presentations titled “Ozone NAAQS Option Selection Briefing” and “Ozone NAAQS Information Briefing”. Almost the entirety of it is redacted as non-responsive to the committee request. Now let me just show you some of the stuff that we got. We’ve got 65 pages of responses: non-responsive, non-responsive, non-responsive, non-responsive. 65 pages. I would submit to you that these redactions are unacceptable and I’ll ask you today if you will agree to provide all of these documents to the committee without any redactions.

Administrator McCarthy: Sir we have provided this committee and in the docket of our ozone standard deliberations, it probably would stand this tall if I brought it in.

Rep. Brooks: That is fine, are you going to send to this committee the documents we have requested? I’m not concerns about documents you have sent. I’m concerned about documents that have not been sent.

Administrator McCarthy: As far as I know we have provided you full response. But I will go back and make sure that we have done that. Redactions are common when it’s deliberative material, it protects our ability to work inside to make sure we do our jobs.

Rep. Brooks: And so to the extent then that there are materials that have not been submitted you’re telling this committee today that you will submit them?

Administrator McCarthy: Only if they’re available to me and they’re appropriate to submit I will submit them that is not a blanket statement that I’m going to provide the committee with information that’s inappropriate to provide.


*For more information on today’s hearing, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

Congressman Brooks serves as Vice-Chair of the Space Subcommittee on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.



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Astronauts Discuss Adverse Health Effects of Long-duration Space Travel and Potential Solutions


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) yesterday participated in a hearing of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, titled Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing, and Treating Former Astronauts.  Brooks questioned the panel on the ability of current technology to protect astronauts from adverse health effects of long-duration space travel, such as the Space Launch System’s (SLS) journey to Mars.  SLS is being developed in North Alabama and managed at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.  Captain Scott Kelly, who recently returned from 340 consecutive days in space—longer than any American astronaut—noted that while his second mission was nearly twice as long as his first, some impacts to his health were surprisingly not twice as adverse.  Kelly’s journey serves to help better understand how human physiology behaves in a microgravity environment, and the health information gained from his treatment will help conquer the common risks associated with human spaceflight, like loss in bone density, vision impairment, and radiation exposure.  As NASA and Congress plan for a journey to Mars, Congressman Brooks and the astronauts on the panel are optimistic about our nation’s ability to conquer these challenges.

The following witnesses testified today:

Dr. Richard Williams
, Chief Health and Medical Officer, NASA
Captain Chris Cassidy, United States Navy (USN); Chief, Astronaut Office, NASA
Captain Scott Kelly (USN, Ret.), Former Astronaut, NASA
Captain Michael Lopez-Alegria (USN, Ret), President, Association of Space Explorers-USA; Former Astronaut, NASA
Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics; Chairman, Committee on the Ethics Principles and Guidelines for Health Standards for Long-Duration and Exploration Spaceflights, Board on Health Sciences Policy, National Academies of Sciences

Rep. Brooks’ remarks from the hearing are available HERE.

Transcript of Rep. Brooks’ Q&A:

Rep. Brooks: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Captain Kelly, thank you sir for being here today and for your service to America’s space program. As many are aware, you and your twin brother Mark Kelly are providing scientists with a wealth of information on the effect that human space flight has on the body. NASA is set to share the results of the study next year. Are you in a position where you can give us any previews of what they’re finding so far by sharing with us the most surprising or interesting things that you have noticed so far? 

Captain Kelly: Well, I mentioned in my testimony the difference between my initial 159 day flight and 340, and my symptoms immediately upon return. I have gotten some data back, my bone mass, muscle mass data, some of the data on my vision that, for me, I was kind of surprised that it was relatively flat in comparison to the 159 days. In other words, being in space for twice as long didn’t mean that I lost twice as much bone mass, it was pretty similar. So, I think some of these, we do have some, you know, a good understanding to how to mitigate the risk to bone and muscle loss so we can stay in space longer. The data with regards to my brother and the comparison with me, a lot of those samples just came back on SpaceX, my biological samples. Like most research, you collect the data, you analyze the data, you write the reports, have it peer reviewed. I think that type of genetic data, the effects of the radiation environment, the effects on my immune system, things like that—as it compares to my brother—are just going to take much longer. But I was actually pleasantly surprised that my bone and muscle data was pretty much flat between the two flights. Although, how I felt when I got back was much different.

Rep. Brooks: And this is a question for each of you, though I’d like to start with the astronauts. Captain Cassidy first, working our way around and then on the two ends of the table, whoever wants to follow them, feel free. With current technology, can NASA safely send an astronaut on a Mars mission without resulting significant adverse health risk, and if not, what should be done to safely protect astronauts on a Mars mission?

Captain Cassidy: Oh, sir that’s a fantastic question because that’s where I think our nation should go, to Mars, and that’s where our vision is, and so, how do we do that effectively and safely is a fantastic thing to consider. Clearly, radiation monitoring and protection is critically important there. Do I think that we could do that mission safely right now? We could do it as safely as we think we can, and there are certain risks that we don’t know, and that’s where collecting this data between now and going to Mars will keep my future colleagues safer.

Rep. Brooks: Captain Kelly?

Captain Kelly: Yes sir, so you know, my time on the space station I was really inspired that building and operating this vehicle was the most difficult thing we have ever done, and I think it’s proven that if we decide to do something and we set our mind to it and put the resources behind it, we can be successful. Whether that’s going to Mars or curing cancer, if we decide that that’s what we are going to do and we devote the appropriate resources to it we can do it. Now there are challenges with going to Mars, Chris mentioned radiation which I completely agree with. I think the physical challenges that would be the number one concern I would have, is protecting the crew members on that long trip away from the protection of Earth. I think there are also challenges in the systems that keep us alive on board the space station. These are designed to work for long periods of time in low Earth orbit, but having them that can operate consistently, reliably and get us to Mars and back is a challenge.  But I think it’s clearly a challenge that if we decide that’s what we want to do then we can accomplish it.

Rep. Brooks:  Well with respect to the number one concern that both of you have mentioned —radiation—do we have the technology now to protect our astronauts from the radiation of a long term flight to Mars and back or do we need to develop new technology?

Captain Kelly:  Well, I think there’s two ways to approach that. One is you get there really fast so you’re not exposed to the radiation environment for as long, and the other one is some means of insulating the crew members from it. And you know I’m not an expert on this, but my understanding is if you have a propulsion system that potentially has a magnetic field as part of it, that it can act like the magnetic field of the Earth to protect us from certain types of radiation, but again I’m not an expert in this area.

Rep. Brooks: Captain Lopez-Alegria?

Captain Lopez-Alegria: Thank you Representative Brooks. You know, I think, could we do it technically, technologically? Perhaps. It would be incredibly expensive. The things that you mentioned, my colleagues have mentioned about radiation you could shield, that takes mass, that makes the vehicle heavier, that makes the vehicle more expensive. The current propulsion technology we’ve heard how long it would take the mission we’d have to bring our food with us. There are so many things that it is possible to do. I think a breakthrough in technology would make a lot of those problems go away or at least become much more easy to solve. One thing that I do think is going to happen in almost any case, it’s going to be very difficult to have any kind of reasonable abort possibility once you’re on your way, and so this country is going to have to have a different risk acceptance posture. Not just for radiation exposure, which is right now 3% above the normal population is what we admit for a risk of exposure induced death. That will probably have to change. But also just the notion that somebody could have an unforeseen medical problem on orbit, or on the way, that which today we could have the crewmember on the ground in a matter of hours—it would take potentially months to get them back. So we could do it, I think we have to go through some evolutionary processes in way we think both at NASA and as a country for it to happen.

Rep. Brooks: Well, my time has expired but if the Chair would permit for Dr. Kahn and Dr. Williams to answer, that would be great.

Chairman Babin: Certainly, go ahead if you have something to add to that.

Rep. Brooks: Thank you. Dr. Kahn or Dr. Williams would either of you like to add anything to a Mars mission safety technological advances we might need to ensure health safety.

Dr. Williams: Sir, I think my colleagues covered it quite well. Physiologically we believe that we could send people on a Mars duration mission out and back you know all the other safety concerns notwithstanding. We believe we could do that, physiologically I think it’s safe to say that those astronauts would be forever changed they would have a greater risk of developing, in all likelihood, they’d have a greater risk of developing a fatal cancer during their lifetime. And the associated changes in bone and muscle, I mean, they may have greater fracture risk and the cataracts and all the things we’ve talked about. One of the great challenges are the unknowns, and there are unknowns, and unknown unknowns, with regards to the increased duration of space flight. That’s what makes it so imperative for us to continue our studies and to continue gathering as much data as we possibly can in support of an eventual Mars mission.

Rep. Brooks: Dr. Kahn do you have anything to add?

Dr. Kahn: I would just add to what Dr. Williams just had to say, that the committee that I chaired actually understood that there were such great unknowns and unquantifiable risks. And rather than try to answer the question that you pose about what technological breakthroughs would be necessary, or whether we could do it today, we gave them a framework to think about the ethics of exceeding existing standards and how to think about that. Since, as Captain Lopez-Alegria said, there are existing health standards and we have to evaluate those standards in light of the mission that is being proposed and that’s what the committee that I chaired had to say.

Mr. Brooks: Mr. Chairman, thank you for your indulgence.

Chairman Babin: Yes sir, thank you.


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Contact Information

1230 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4801
Fax 202-225-4392

On November 6, 2012, Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) was re-elected as the Representative for Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. He proudly represents the people of North Alabama and serves on three important committees:  Armed Services, Science, Space, and Technology, and Foreign Affairs.

As a sophomore member, Congressman Brooks is highly active and engaged in representing the interests of the 5th District. Brooks supports America’s missile defense technologies; he introduced successful legislation in 2011 and 2012 that blocked the White House from sharing classified missile technologies with Russia, and was adapted into the National Defense Authorization Act in FY2012. Rep. Brooks is also a vocal opponent of sequestration, voting against the Budget Control Act and called upon Administration officials to account for the consequences of sequestration in a HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on April 18, 2012.

During his first year on the Hill, Brooks founded and became co-chairman of the Army Aviation Caucus, a forum in which Members of Congress, staff, and Army leadership raise awareness for Army Aviation and seek to affect legislative priorities. The Caucus now includes more than 50 members and is one of the most active caucuses on Capitol Hill.

Growing up in North Alabama, Mo Brooks’ parents taught him early on that study and hard work were expected and required. They also taught him the importance of honesty, and to never be shy about speaking up and fighting for important principles. Brooks was born in 1954 in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved in 1963 to Huntsville, Alabama. Rep. Brooks’ father, Jack Brooks, retired from Redstone Arsenal’s Metrology Center. Brooks’ mother, Betty Brooks, taught economics and government for over 20 years at Lee High School. They still live in Madison County.

Rep. Brooks graduated from Grissom High School in 1972 (where he was all-city in baseball and an active member on two state championship debate teams). He graduated from Duke University in three years with a double major in political science and economics, with highest honors in economics. In 1978, he graduated from the University of Alabama Law School.

After graduation, Rep. Brooks worked as a prosecutor in the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s office, where he built a solid “tough-on-crime” reputation. While there, he obtained guilty verdicts in every one of the 20-plus jury trials he prosecuted. He also organized and managed the grand jury.

Rep. Brooks left the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s office in 1980 to return to Huntsville as a law clerk for presiding Circuit Court Judge John David Snodgrass. In 1982, Brooks was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and became one of 11 Republican legislators (out of 140 total) and the only elected Republican legislator north of Birmingham.

Brooks was reelected to the Alabama House in 1983, 1986, and 1990. While in the legislature, he was elected Republican House Caucus Chairman three times and was ranked number one (out of 140 legislators) by the Alabama Taxpayers’ Defense Fund in the fight to protect family incomes from higher taxes. He was also ranked in the top 20 percent by Alabama Alliance of Business & Industry on pro-jobs, tort reform, and free enterprise issues and was recognized as one of the legislature’s most effective legislators by Alabama Magazine.

In 1991, Brooks was appointed Madison County District Attorney. In 1996, he ran for the Madison County Commission and unseated an eight-year incumbent Republican. He was reelected to the Commission in 2000, 2004, and 2008. During every year except when he was serving as a prosecutor or court clerk, Brooks held a second job in private practice. In 1995-1996, he was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for then Attorney General Jeff Sessions and, from 1996-2002, was appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for then Attorney General Bill Pryor.

In 1976, Mo Brooks married Martha Jenkins of Toledo; they met at Duke University. Martha graduated from the University of Alabama with an accounting degree. She later retired as a certified public accountant and obtained a math and education major from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2005. She taught math at Whitesburg Middle School. Mo and Martha are the proud parents of four children and grandparents of four grandchildren. Rep. Brooks was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.

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