Senator Barrasso: Why Won't Congressional Democrats Permit Science Oversight Hearings? (PJM Exclusive)

Senator John Barrasso M.D. (R-WY), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, recently released a report [PDF]on the subcommittee's work in the first year of the Obama Administration. The report has less to it than might be imagined — in the first year, the subcommittee has failed to meet or to hold a single hearing of its own. "There were exactly two hearings in 2009," Barrasso said, "a joint hearing with the full committee on June 9th, and a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife on July 8th."

The subcommittee was chartered by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, to perform oversight on the science involved with environmental issues. "Senator Boxer wanted the subcommittee to perform oversight on the Bush Administration, not the current administration," Senator Barrasso said.  "We have made repeated requests to the chairman of the subcommittee [Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)] to hold hearings [in the past year] but no hearings have been held. It has been a lost year for science oversight in the Senate."

"There have been plenty of reasons to hold hearings," Barrasso said. "For example, in April 2009, Shawn McGibbon, a career attorney with Small Business Administration, wrote part of a memo saying the EPA had not considered the economic consequences of an Endangerment Finding for carbon dioxide." When the memo became known, McGibbons was "smeared as a 'Bush holdover'" even though she was hired during the Clinton Administration. Later, McGibbons was replaced by President Obama.

In another incident, Dr. Alan Carlin, a 39-year veteran of the EPA, prepared a report skeptical of the real human impact on the climate.  Carlin (who has since written several articles for Pajamas Media) was instructed not to disseminate the report and, as Kim Strassel reported in the Wall Street Journal, was denounced by "unnamed EPA officials" as a "climate change denier." Dr. Carlin eventually left the EPA.