The public fight that Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, picked with the Environmental Protection Agency last week looks like it will continue into the August recess. On 1st August, the committee voted on a party-line vote to authorize the chairman to subpoena the EPA for the data underlying several major epidemiological studies that are used to justify Clean Air Act regulations. Chairman Smith then executed the subpoena and sent it to new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who in September 2011 as Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation had promised the committee to turn over the data.
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), the ranking Democrat on the Science Committee, sent Chairman Smith a letter on 30th July objecting in lengthy detail to the proposed subpoena. In her letter, Rep. Johnson attacked the credibility of Dr. James Enstrom, who was fired by UCLA after 36 years as a research scientist because his results have sometimes been politically incorrect. In particular, he has questioned the EPA’s claims of hundreds of billions of dollars of health benefits from its Clean Air Act regulations.
Dr. Enstrom responded to Rep. Johnson’s attack in a letter to Chairman Smith in which he demands that Johnson “immediately withdraw her defamatory statements about me. Furthermore, I request that the Ranking Member identify the person(s) who originated these defamatory statements.” Since both the Chairman and the ranking Democrat are from Texas, the story has been picked up by the Texas media. Chairman Smith has also now replied to Rep. Johnson in an 8th August letter.