WASHINGTON- U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) discovery of the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star, three of which are in the habitable zone.
Chairman Smith: “Space discoveries have long captured the public's imagination, and NASA's discoveries like the one today continue to inspire us to explore beyond the boundaries of today. The discovery of seven Earth-size planets offers information from uncharted territory that will aid in scientific analysis. As these discoveries continue, we aim to put the United States back on top as a first rate space pioneer. My colleagues and I will ensure that NASA has the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to build upon these new developments and chart new courses space exploration for the next generation. The U.S. Senate recently passed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 which builds upon years of work by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. I look forward to seeing this bill pass the House quickly and move to the president's desk for signature to unlock the mysteries of space as President Trump said in his inaugural address.” Read More
WASHINGTON- U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to rescind the 2014 decision to preemptively use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to limit the scope of the development of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska before any permit applications were submitted for the project.
“The Committee recommends that the incoming Administration rescind the EPA’s proposed determination to use Section 404(c) in a preemptive fashion for the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. This simple action will allow a return to the long-established Clean Water Act permitting process and stop attempts by the EPA to improperly expand its authority. Moreover, it will create regulatory certainty for future development projects that will create jobs and contribute to the American economy,” the letter states.
Through rigorous oversight including hearings, document reviews, interviews, and depositions, the committee determined that the preemptive action for the Pebble Mine was unprecedented under the Clean Water Act. This action was justified by a questionable scientific assessment that relied on predetermined conclusions developed by EPA officials. The committee also learned EPA employees colluded with Pebble Mine opponents to stop this project.
Today’s letter can be found here.
In April 2016 the Committee held a hearing to examine EPA’s predetermined efforts to block the Pebble Mine.
In November 2015 the Committee held its initial hearing to examine EPA’s predetermined efforts to block the Pebble Mine.
In October 2015 Chairman Smith sent a letter to then EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning EPA’s apparent pre-determined conclusion to block the Pebble Mine before any science-based reports were produced or any formal permit applications were submitted.
In August 2013 the Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to examine potential overreach by the EPA in conducting a draft watershed assessment for the Bristol Bay area based on a hypothetical mining scenario.
In President Trump’s inaugural address, many pundits overlooked a key passage. “We stand at the birth of a new millennium,” he declared, “ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.”
The passage spoke to a commitment I share with our new president: ensuring that America thrives and prospers again through innovation, ingenuity and the creation of new industries and more jobs.
For nearly 70 years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has served as the bedrock of taxpayer-funded basic science. NSF invests about $7 billion of public funds each year on research projects and related activities. Since its creation in 1950, NSF has served a mission that helps make the United States a world leader in science and innovation.
But that global leadership is under threat. Despite the U.S. government spending more on research and development than any other country, American pre-eminence in several fields is slipping. Other countries are focusing investments on new technologies, advanced scientific and manufacturing facilities, and harnessing their workforces to go into STEM fields. For example, last year China launched the fastest supercomputer in the world, five times faster than any supercomputer in the United States.
Business as usual is not the answer. NSF must be as nimble and innovative as the speed of technology, and as open and transparent as information in the digital age. NSF Director France Cordova has publicly committed NSF to accountability and transparency and restoring its original mission to support science in the national interest. These policies were made permanent and expanded by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), which was enacted in January. This bipartisan legislation will bolster our nation’s leadership in science and investment in future economic growth.
But there is more work to be done. First, NSF must focus research funding on areas most likely to strengthen the economy, national security and other national priorities. NSF has funded too many projects that are at best marginal or at worst frivolous and wasteful. These low-risk, low-priority projects detract from investments into groundbreaking research that crosses biology, physics, computer science and engineering.
When NSF is only able to fund one out of every five proposals submitted by scientists, why did it award $225,000 to study animal photos in National Geographic or $920,000 to study textile-making in Iceland during the Viking era? Why did studying tourism in northern Norway warrant $275,000 of limited federal funds?
These grants and hundreds like them might be worthwhile projects, but how are they in the national interest and how can they justify taxpayer dollars? The federal government should not fund this type of research at the expense of other potentially ground-breaking science.
Second, NSF must help increase public trust in science. A Pew Research Center study last year showed a decline in the public’s trust of scientists and scientific findings. And Nature magazine found in a survey of researchers that more than 70% have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s published results, which is considered essential for legitimate scientific inquiry.
Publication of flawed basic research can have devastating economic and human impacts. A recent study found that $28 billion a year is spent on research in the field of biology alone that can’t be reproduced, while retractions of published studies have risen 25% in the last five years.
Reproducibility is the gold standard of science, and NSF should be leading the charge towards finding solutions to improving reproducibility and replication. The AICA directed a study to be conducted by the National Academies of Science, which I hope will help restore the trust of the American people in our science institutions.
Some have declared that raising these questions or taking a critical look at how NSF has done business for nearly 70 years is somehow “anti-science.” It’s not. It is the nature of science to ask questions, seek new solutions, and never stop experimenting. We should not ask anything less of our federal science agencies as we join together, in the words of President Trump, “in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.”
Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Read More
WASHINGTON- U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement today on Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Chairman Smith: “I congratulate Administrator Scott Pruitt on his confirmation to take the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt will be a tremendous leader in bringing together states, industry, and stakeholders to help decide what measures and rules work best for them. Mr. Pruitt will be an invaluable asset in resetting the agenda on environmental improvement as we move forward. I look forward to working with the Trump administration and Administrator Pruitt in bringing our country out of an era of red tape and into a more transparent age based on sound science.” Read More
WASHINGTON- U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) sent a letter today to the National Weather Service (NWS) Director Louis Uccellini after NWS suffered a power outage, hindering its ability to issue alerts and forecasts that millions of Americans rely on.
The letter reads: “On Monday, NWS stopped disseminating forecasts, warnings, radar and satellite imagery, and current conditions for hours, endangering American lives and property. The products that NWS disseminates to the public daily are far reaching and have immediate impacts for millions of Americans who rely on them.”
“Specifically, the Committee is interested in information on how this incident occurred, the server backup procedures and implementation strategy, the response or lack thereof following the incident, and what is being done to ensure this does not happen again,” the letter continues.
Today’s letter can be found here. Read More