Weekly Columns

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has wide reach out of Washington and into the everyday lives of Arkansans. It’s no surprise that I hear from many people in our state about the extensive policies implemented by this agency.  Farmers, small businesses, and everyday Arkansas dealing with the price of electricity and goods at the store have expressed concern over unjustified EPA interference that creates stiff penalties and costly mandates, without actually protecting the environment. 

Take for instance the EPA’s carbon emissions mandate. This targets Arkansas for cuts stricter than 44 other states.  These mandates will drive up the price of electricity, send jobs overseas, and lead to the construction of foreign factories in places like China, which will emit far more carbon dioxide and pollution into the global atmosphere.  

In late February, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge testified before the House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior about the carbon emissions mandate’s impact in Arkansas in addition to other EPA overreaching regulations on air and water. In her testimony she detailed how EPA is exceeding its legal authority and said the agency “ignores the plain language of the laws passed by Congress and has created a perfect storm of federal regulations that will result in economic disaster for a state such as Arkansas.” 

EPA has ignored repeated requests by Congress for data supporting its policies and rules for years. It imposes regulations that exceed the scope of its authority and works outside of the powers granted to it by Congress. 

Congress relies on experts to provide reason based science. In 1978 Congress created the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to provide independent expert advice to the EPA and Congress on scientific and technical information that may be used to inform the regulatory process.  

The current process is undermined because public participation is limited, and powerful bureaucrats can interfere with expert advice. Conflicts of interest are also a concern. We need to update the process and ensure scientific integrity. This is why I introduced the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). This legislation would improve confidence in the fairness and transparency of EPA’s regulations and rulemaking by reforming the science advisory process. 

The EPA’s regulatory process is flawed, yet many outstanding scientists have participated in or wish to contribute to the agency’s scientific review process. Our legislation will make the agency more transparent and open, while empowering scientists to do their work and express their views without undue interference.  

Regulations that are carefully reviewed for scientific integrity enable the protection of clean air and water, without forcing unnecessary burdens onto the middle and low-income families who pay the highest costs for regulations and mandates. 

Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation. I’m hopeful that the Senate will follow its lead because Arkansans and all Americans deserve the opportunity to see how any why rules they are forced to follow are created.

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