Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Lamar Smith

EPA Regulatory Overreach: Impacts on American Competitiveness

2015/06/04

EPA Regulatory Overreach: Impacts on American Competitiveness

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Smith Statement on Flawed EPA Water Rule

2015/05/27

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, under a new name, the “Clean Water Rule.”  The EPA has long claimed the rule is intended to define which bodies of water can be regulated by the Clean Water Act. But the rule is written so broadly it could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States, including private and public lakes, ponds and streams.

Chairman Smith: “Today, the EPA rolled out its controversial Waters of the U.S. rule along with a new PR campaign attempting to rebrand the rule’s tarnished image. But cosmetic updates cannot hide the fact that it’s still a massive power grab of private property. America’s farmers, landowners and small businesses are right to be concerned. The rule expands the EPA’s jurisdiction, giving the agency the power to restrict Americans from making decisions about their own property. In addition, the agency inappropriately lobbied external organizations to provide supportive comments. This week, I along with Chairmen Chaffetz and Conaway sent a letter to the EPA demanding information about those efforts. The EPA needs to take a step back, truly engage with stakeholders and be open and transparent about its intentions.”

Smith has sent several letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy questioning the agency's rushed process and lack of transparency in pushing the WOTUS rule on the American people. More than 30 governors and state legislators across the country have also voiced their concerns about the threats to freedom and opportunity posed by this regulatory overreach. 

Earlier this month, Smith voted in favor of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which requires the EPA to withdraw the rule and seek out adequate stakeholder input before proposing a new rule.

Last summer, the Science Committee investigated the EPA's creation of detailed maps showing waters and wetlands for all 50 states. The maps, which were created in 2013 shortly after EPA proposed its Waters of the US rule, had never been made public.

Although the EPA has claimed the maps were not used to regulate, the agency has failed to explain why the agency used taxpayer money to create them in the first place. Serious questions remain regarding the EPA's underlying motivations for creating such highly detailed maps.

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Joint Letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy on Soliciting Public Comments for Proposed WOTUS Rule

2015/05/26

The letter can be found HERE.

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McCarthy-Smith SPACE Act Passes with Broad Bipartisan Support

2015/05/21

Washington, D.C. – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today joined House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in praising passage of H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act. Almost 50 Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill with broad bipartisan support, 284-133.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “America has always led because it’s in our nature to lead. We crossed over the mountains of the Appalachians and into the Great Plains. We climbed the Rockies to the golden coast of California and beyond, creating a nation in this land that has far surpassed all others in truth, hope, and liberty. We are a beacon of freedom and human dignity to every person that longs for the right to choose their own future. And we are a force for good unlike anything this world has ever known.

“And yet, in space, we are losing our ability to lead. We once stood up to the challenge of the Soviet’s Sputnik and made it to the moon, but today, our astronauts use Russian rockets and other nations are working to put people on Mars and beyond.

“But we must go beyond. We must face the great unknown with that American spirit of adventure and hope.  To paraphrase President Kennedy, we must lead mankind into space not because it is easy, but because it is hard and because that goal brings out the very best of our nation. …

“I stand here before you today, Mr. Chairman, presenting a bill. This bill asks us to make a decision: Do we concede our future to one of managed decline where others lead, or do we make a future where America and her people guide us in our journey to the stars?”

Chairman Lamar Smith: “Thanks go to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, an honorary member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee for sponsoring this important legislation. This bill will encourage the private sector to launch rockets, take risks, and shoot for the heavens.

“H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015, or SPACE Act, facilitates a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space sector. It creates more stable regulatory conditions and improves safety, which in turn attracts private investment. The SPACE Act secures American leadership in space and fosters the development of advanced space technologies.

“This bill is the product of over three years of work, numerous committee hearings, and input from industry, education groups, and grassroots citizen advocacy groups. Virtually every stakeholder group has supported this bill.

“H.R. 2262 will keep America at the forefront of aerospace technology, promote American jobs, reduce red tape, promote safety, and inspire the next generation of explorers.” 

The bill represents substantial and necessary updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act, which gives guidance to the growing commercial space industry. It received broad support from space community stakeholders.

In addition to McCarthy and Smith, the SPACE Act was introduced with the support of the following cosponsors:  Representatives Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Steve Knight (R-Calif.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.).

The SPACE Act also included three additional bills passed out of the House Science Committee, including:  H.R. 2261, the “Commercial Remote Sensing Act of 2015” introduced by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.); H.R. 2263, the “Office of Space Commerce Act” introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.); H.R. 1508, the “Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015” introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).

More information on the bill can be found here.  

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TODAY: SPACE Act of 2015

2015/05/21

This morning at 10 AM ET the House of Representatives will consider the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015, or SPACE Act. See what key stakeholders are saying about the bill.

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“Blue Origin commends Majority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Smith, and Chairman Palazzo for their leadership in introducing the SPACE Act, which represents an important step forward for commercial human spaceflight in the United States.”

-Blue Origin

“We look forward to the passage of this important legislation, which will help ensure America’s future leadership in space.”

-Virgin Galactic

“The Mojave Air and Space Port applauds Congressman McCarthy in introducing the SPACE Act, as well as Chairman Smith, Chairman Palazzo, Ranking Member Edwards, Mr. Knight, Mr. Posey, Mr. Takano, Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Bridenstine for continuing to lead us toward a day when the ‘Learning Period’ will be a life long journey and not just a finite period of time.”   

-Mojave Air & Space Port

“The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Science Committee for introducing legislation that prioritizes U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness.” 

-Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

“NSS Urges Passage of the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (SPACE Act of 2015).”

-National Space Society

        “We applaud the steps you’ve taken with this bill to support an innovative and growing industry, and inspire America’s next generation of scientists and engineers.”        

 -Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

“This piece of legislation has many important provisions that are needed to help advance the United States’ commercial space enterprise….With the release of the SPACE act, from Majority Leader McCarthy, we are glad to see that the Congress shares our vision, and strongly support its passage in the United States House of Representatives.”

-Space Frontier Foundation

“The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today welcomed consideration by Congress of [the SPACE Act] that would extend the existing commercial space launch indemnification regime through 2023.”

-Satellite Industry Association

“A little over a decade ago Congress passed the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act to enable the commercial human spaceflight industry. Today, my congressman, Kevin McCarthy has introduced a comprehensive and visionary update of that law to help spur this industry to grow even faster, from its early roots in the Antelope Valley all the way to the Space Coast of Florida.  The American people should be proud that Congress is acting to help make this exciting future happen.”               

-Jeff Greason, Founder of XCOR Aerospace

“SpaceX supports the House’s SPACE Act that will update the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act to strengthen U.S. commercial space competitiveness, and looks forward to continuing working with Congress as the legislation moves forward."  

-Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX)

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House Votes to Strengthen U.S. Scientific Enterprise

2015/05/20

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives approved the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), a comprehensive, pro-science, fiscally responsible bill to keep America competitive and reestablish the federal government’s primary scientific role to fund basic research.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “H.R. 1806 prioritizes basic research and development while staying within the caps set by the Budget Control Act. America’s businesses rely on government support for basic research to produce the scientific breakthroughs that spur technological innovation, jumpstart new industries and spur economic growth. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have you believe that the only way you can be pro-science is to spend more taxpayer money than the Budget Control Act allows. Real priorities require making choices. H.R. 1806 proves that we can set priorities, make tough choices and still invest more in breakthrough research and innovation.”

The America COMPETES Act increases investments for basic energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as critical research in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics at NSF, while keeping overall spending flat. The bill provides targeted increases for NSF research by over 4%; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by over 8%; and DOE’s Office of Science by over 5% above 2015 enacted levels.

The bill offsets those increases with cuts to programs that focus on lower priority, late-stage technology development and commercialization activities that are more effectively pursued by the private sector.

H.R. 1806 includes a provision that requires the NSF to provide non-technical explanation of the scientific merits for each taxpayer-funded grant, and how it serves the “national interest.”  In testimony before the House Science Committee on February 25, NSF Director France Cόrdova called the provision “very compatible” with internal NSF guidelines and with the mission statement of NSF. 

H.R. 1806 was introduced by Chairman Smith and cosponsored by Science Committee Vice-Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and all five subcommittee chairs. 

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House Passes Six Bipartisan Science Committee Bills

2015/05/19

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed six bipartisan Science, Space, and Technology Committee bills by voice vote.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):  “These are all good bipartisan bills. H.R. 1561 protects lives and property through improved weather research to better forecast tornadoes and hurricanes and to increase warning lead times. H.R. 1119 takes steps to cut through administrative red tape to ensure our nation’s research investments are efficient and effective. H.R. 1156 improves economic and national security and supports U.S. foreign policy goals. H.R. 1162 promotes increased utilization of prize competitions within the federal government to create technological breakthroughs. H.R. 1158 shows this Committee stands together in wanting to further open up the capabilities and talents of the Department of Energy (DOE) to private sector innovators.  And H.R. 874 calls on DOE to develop a pathway towards the next generation of supercomputing systems. ”

H.R. 1561, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015, introduced by Vice-Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and cosponsored by Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.). The bipartisan bill improves America’s severe weather forecasting capabilities by prioritizing the protection of lives and property through a forward-looking weather research plan at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The bill received letters of support from 25 organizations representing the weather enterprise and industry.

H.R. 1119, the Research and Development Efficiency Act, introduced by Research and Technology Subcommittee Chair Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Research and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). This is a bill to have Federal research regulations reviewed for unjustified burdens, unnecessary requirements, and duplication and to recommend cost saving reforms.

H.R. 1156, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2015, introduced by Research and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and co-sponsored by Research and Technology Subcommittee Vice-Chairman John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). This is a bill to authorize the establishment of a body under the National Science and Technology Council to identify and coordinate international science and technology cooperation opportunities.

H.R. 1162, the Science Prize Competitions Act, introduced by Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Don Beyer (D-Va.) and co-sponsored by Oversight Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The bill encouraging federal science agencies to use private-public prize competitions to address significant health, environmental, and other issues.

H.R. 1158, the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and co-sponsored by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) , Ranking Member Johnson (D-Texas), Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas), and Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) amongst others. This legislation would improve management of the National Laboratories, enhance technology commercialization, and facilitate public-private partnerships.

H.R. 874, the American Super Computing Leadership Act, introduced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) amongst others. This legislation amends the Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004 to improve the high-end computing research and development program of the Department of Energy and establish an exascale computing program.

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Protecting Our Proud Past and Strong Future

2015/05/19


If Everything is a Priority, Nothing is

2015/05/18


Smith: EPA Skirts Transparency, Communicates with Outside Groups on Private Email

2015/05/15

Washington, D.C.  Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE) and a former EPA employee demanding documents related to the use of private email and text messages to avoid federal transparency requirements.

The committee obtained emails showing that a former EPA employee, Michael Goo, communicated with third party groups through private e-mail and text messages. Today’s letters follow a subpoena issued by the Committee in March for all documents related to EPA’s use of electronic communication practices after nearly 6,000 text messages were deleted from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s work-issued phone.

The EPA produced a number of documents in response to the subpoena, but failed to provide emails referencing text messages sent or received by Mr. Goo.  In one e-mail obtained by the Science Committee that was sent from Mr. Goo’s personal e-mail account to a lobbyist, he writes “ok I will call number on text message.”  Despite the Committee’s specific request for this information, the EPA failed to provide this e-mail.

Another email obtained by the Science Committee was sent from the Sierra Club to Mr. Goo’s private e-mail account:

“[a]ttached is a memo I didn’t want to send in public.”

“Mr. Goo was complicit in the lack of transparency by complying with the Sierra Club’s request because he failed to disclose the e-mail for two years,” Chairman Smith wrote in his letter. “Mr. Goo’s actions are troubling because it creates the appearance of secrecy. For two years, his communications with the Sierra Club and other outside groups were hidden from Congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests—potentially violating the Federal Records Act.”

In 2013, Mr. Goo left the EPA for a similar positon at DOE.  Based on Mr. Goo’s history at EPA of communicating with third party groups using non-official e-mail to conduct agency work, the Committee is concerned he used similar means of communications at DOE. Previous Congressional investigations found that DOE officials routinely used non-official email to conduct agency work, at times with the explicit intent of concealing that work from public scrutiny or Congressional oversight. For example, on August 21, 2011, former DOE Loan Program Office Director Jonathan Silver used his Yahoo! e-mail account to send a message to another official within DOE’s Loan Program Office stating:

“Don’t ever send an email on doe email with private email addresses. That makes them subpoenable.”

It is the law for federal records to be retained for a number of reasons, including institutional memory, ensuring effective and efficient administration of an organization, and to “make possible a proper scrutiny by the Congress…” Agencies are required to preserve records that document how decisions are made.

News reports have further highlighted Mr. Goo’s efforts to skirt transparency by arranging meetings “at the Starbucks in the JW Marriott hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, close to the EPA,” in an effort to prevent meeting participants from signing in at the EPA building and creating public records.

Chairman Smith’s letters demand all communications from 2011 to 2013 from senior EPA and DOE officials that reference outside groups, including the White House, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The full letters can be found here.

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Contact Information

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Fax 202-226-0113
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Membership

Brian Babin

TEXAS' 36th DISTRICT

Jim Bridenstine

OKLAHOMA's 1st DISTRICT

Mo Brooks

ALABAMA's 5th DISTRICT

Barbara Comstock

VIRGINIA's 10th DISTRICT

Randy Hultgren

ILLINOIS' 14th DISTRICT

Bill Johnson

OHIO's 6th DISTRICT

Steve Knight

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Barry Loudermilk

GEORGIA's 11th DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Thomas Massie

KENTUCKY's 4th DISTRICT

Michael McCaul

TEXAS' 10th DISTRICT

John Moolenaar

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Dan Newhouse

WASHINGTON's 4th DISTRICT

Steven Palazzo

MISSISSIPPI's 4th DISTRICT

Gary Palmer

ALABAMA's 6th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

Jim Sensenbrenner

WISCONSIN's 5th DISTRICT

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Randy Weber

TEXAS' 14th DISTRICT

Bruce Westerman

ARKANSAS' 4th DISTRICT