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Watchdog Report: SAB Reports Show EPA Has Little Regard for Science, Transparency

The EPA used New Year’s Eve as an odd (and perhaps intentional) date to publish four reports by its Chartered Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), three of which were strongly critical of the administration’s grasp on established science.

You can read more about those reports in a story by the Washington Post here and another in the New York Times here – and we recommend (and hope) that you do. We also hope that you read the draft SAB letters (you can check them out online here).

When you’re done, we encourage you to write your elected officials, your friends, your boss, and anyone else you can think of to let them know what you think. GASP’s view is that these documents paint an appalling picture of how little regard the current EPA has for science. Even worse, we believe they suggest EPA is more than willing to manipulate science for political purposes. 

The SAB letter concerning the administration’s attempt to undo vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, for example, pointed out an alarming “weakness” in the EPA’s modeling that caused “implausible results”: The EPA somehow concluded that “an increase in vehicle prices due to regulation will cause the [national vehicle] fleet to grow substantially when it would usually be expected to shrink.”  

In other words, the EPA tried to suggest that if regulations increased the cost of cars, consumers would buy more of them. The horror of that “miscalculation” should set in when you realize the EPA used this implausible increased number of total vehicles on the road to “prove” the fuel efficiency standards would not reduce emissions.

Even if you cannot fully examine the SAB letters and news coverage of EPA’s sinister science, please consider listening in on EPA’s defense of it and share your experience with others.  

The EPA and SAB will be holding public teleconferences on Jan. 17, 21, 22, and 24 to discuss these reports. Per the SAB agenda, one of the four letters will be addressed each of the four days.

Notice of these teleconferences was also published on New Year’s Eve but, again, you will find actual call-in information conspicuously missing from the notice itself.

To get call-in details, you need to:

  1. Go to the SAB website here.
  2. Then, on the right-hand side of the page, you will see links for the four teleconference days under a heading titled “Upcoming and Recent Meetings.” If you click on any of the above-mentioned dates, you’ll be taken to a webpage for that day’s “public meeting” information.  
  3. On that page, if you click on the green “Call-in Information” button, you should get a pop-up that asks you for an email address and promises that a call-in number and access code will be sent to that email address “within minutes.”

The call-in information might be the same for all four teleconferences but if you are interested in listening in all four days, you should probably go through this process for all four dates.

We recognize this is a bit outside the scope of GASP’s usual coverage of local air issues but the EPA’s attack on science is alarming.

Finally, we’d like to point out GASP takes great pride in avoiding unfounded accusations, but here we felt comfortable suggesting EPA’s choice to publish the reports on a notoriously lax news day was “perhaps intentional” because all four draft reports are dated months earlier – Oct. 16, 2019, per the document titles.  

In addition, the PDF metadata confirm all four files were created on Oct. 16, 2019.

GASP strongly believes that this suggests EPA staff had copies of these letters for more than 10 weeks before they were posted publicly. Posting them on New Year’s Eve seemed like a bit too much of a “coincidence” for us to stomach.

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