22 Feb 2012 Congress Asked to Hold Oversight Hearings to Review Possibly Politicized EPA Grants
Oversight Hearing Should Review Objectivity of Grant Recipients, Goals and Appropriate Funding Level
Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research is today calling on Congress to hold a series of oversight hearings over possibly-politicized grants made by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The National Center’s general counsel, Justin Danhof, has also filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking additional details about several of those grants totaling nearly a half million dollars, made to the Pacific Institute in California.
The president of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, has this week confessed to misappropriating the identity of another individual in order to obtain confidential documents from a rival think-tank, one that has reached different conclusions than has the Pacific Institute on the causes and significance of global warming.
Gleick said in a statement that he did so because of “frustration” over differences between persons and institutions within the global warming debate.
“The Pacific Institute receives federal grants related to science research while participating ardently in public advocacy on science-related issues,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “While it is possible to be objective during research while simultaneously conducting public advocacy, it is difficult. It most likely is especially difficult when a research institute’s CEO is so overcome with the passion of his convictions that he cannot restrain himself emotionally while in pursuit of his advocacy goals.”
Ridenour continued: “In 2006, in response to another controversy related to maintenance of high objective standards in climate science research, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations conducted hearings about the so-called ‘hockey stick’ graph of Professor Michael Mann of Penn State University, which had been used by the United Nations’ IPCC for advocacy purposes. The hearing, predictably, did not settle the global warming issue but it did provide lawmakers and the public with the opportunity to hear from prominent climate scientists and statisticians with a variety of viewpoints. It was a form of peer-review, necessary in our view because the traditional peer-review process within science is insufficiently rigorous, particularly when it comes to the highly-controversial issue of global warming, over which very many billions of dollars are at stake.”
The 2006 hearing also reminded scientists and other professionals of the importance of maintaining the highest standards of objectivity.
The oversight hearings the National Center now recommends would have three purposes. 1) To review the grants made during the last two Administrations to make certain sufficient standards of objectivity are in place; to 2) obtain the views of respected scientists as to whether the EPA grant program is focusing its resources in the most promising areas of research with an eye toward maximizing public benefit; and 3) to examine the question of whether the grant program, at a time of 15 trillion-dollar federal government debts, is at an appropriate spending level.
“While Congress itself should not be deciding every EPA grant,” added Ridenour, “Given the amount of dollars involved and the potential for abuse, it makes sense for Congress to call eminent scientists before it every few years to obtain their views on whether these grants are sufficiently advancing the public interest.”
The National Center recommends that grants from the Obama and Bush Administrations be equally evaluated so as to eliminate any suspicion that Congress’s legitimate oversight function is being used for partisan purposes. The evaluation should not be limited to grants made on issues related to global warming.
The National Center has so far filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the EPA related only to grants to the Pacific Institute, it expects to file additional FOIA requests in the coming days.
The National Center For Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org) is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving about one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.