Earth to Lamar! Earth to Lamar! Come in, Lamar!
Dear Representative Smith:
Hi! Earth, here. I realize that you may be off planet at the moment, so I will just leave a message.
Some of my residents say that they have been wanting to speak with you about climate change, but that you have not been holding any town halls recently. They also say that you and your staff haven’t been responding to their questions and concerns about this issue – at least, not in a way that they find comprehensible. I have explained to them that you are probably in deep space, searching for the Unvarnished Truth, and hence, that town halls are not feasible and that communication of any kind is problematic. I assured them that you would reply at your earliest convenience after your return.
That said, I have to admit that things have been getting rather warm around here, lately, and so I, too, have begun to have some serious concerns. Can you please explain why you voted for the Energy Tax Prevention Act (HR910), back in 2011? Fortunately, that did not become law, but it would have prohibited the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases to address climate change! Of course, you were only going along with all the other House Republicans at the time, so perhaps that explains it. You wouldn’t want to offend your colleagues. Now that you are Chair of the House Science Committee, though, you should be in a much better position to work on my behalf.
And yet, I have seen some very troubling reports recently, which seem to suggest that you may not always have my best interests in mind. If the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (HR1030), which you authored, had passed the Senate, it would have prohibited the EPA from “proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.” That sounds reasonable enough, but as critics have pointed out, “health research often contains confidential personal information that is illegal to share“ and the law would also have kept the EPA from using “studies of one-time events, such as the Gulf oil spill…because these events – and thus the studies of them – can’t be repeated.”
Then just last year, you issued subpoenas to the Massachusetts and New York State attorney generals, as well as numerous environmental groups, who were investigating Exxon’s intentional misleading of the public about the impact of climate change. According to an article in the Boston Globe, you said their investigations were trying to “threaten legitimate scientific debate about climate change” and trying to squelch researchers with “alternative views” on climate change. (Are “alternative views” the same as “alternative facts,” by the way?) Indeed, an article last September in The New Yorker describes the activities of your committee as being an “anti-science rampage,” which had prompted the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with seven other national science organizations, to write you a letter in 2015 expressing their “grave concern.”
Most recently, some have suggested that the hearing you scheduled called “Making the EPA Great Again,” might be a first step in limiting the EPA’s effectiveness, or even abolishing it, altogether.
But perhaps they are mistaken – jumping to conclusions. I certainly hope so! In any event, I look forward to your reply. Thanks for your kind attention.
(Submitted by Russell Pinkston of Austin, Texas, on Earth’s behalf.)