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Hearing of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee - Chemical Risk Assessment: What Works for Jobs and the Economy?

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By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

It has been no secret to anyone following our Committee that we have been taking a very specific look at the regulatory climate in this country where it is imbalanced and unworkable. In doing so, I and others have been clear that while we advocate the maintenance of common sense environmental and public health protections, we also need to be careful about the impacts of government encroachment and that these efforts not discourage job protection and economic growth. Today's hearing is another step to appreciating these issues.

To understand the final regulatory product and the economic impacts of EPA activities, I think it is important to appreciate the process used by the Agency to get those results. Our hearing will delve into one of the foundational parts of EPA's activities: the work of the Integrated Risk Information System or IRIS.

I have been a strong advocate of high quality science that is objective and valid. Moreover, I understand that many people are concerned about IRIS activities on specific chemicals. I am not here to defend any particular chemical. This hearing is not about specific chemicals. To truly protect the public from harm and negative economic outcomes, we need an unbiased process informing policymakers about the science, not policymakers informing the science.

IRIS was created over 25 years ago to provide EPA with information to develop policy surrounding human health effects from exposure to chemicals. There is no doubt providing such high quality science-based assessment is critical to EPA's mission. The question is whether IRIS is in fact fulfilling this goal or have results begun to develop to support specific policy objectives.

From our subcommittee's perspective, we need to grasp that IRIS is the program making scientific assessments about chemical substances that EPA program offices use to set federal limits for various environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act. In addition, many states rely on IRIS data for their own environmental program purposes.

We are honored today to have a collection of very distinguished witnesses and I appreciate the time and sacrifices they have made to be with us.

Among the testimony we will receive is from the Administration and their view of IRIS and its role. I look forward to getting an update on EPA's 2009 reforms to IRIS as well as where things stand with the Chapter 7, long-term recommendations of the National Academies of Science for IRIS.

In addition, we will have insight on whether IRIS assessments are doing what they should, if states are finding IRIS work reliable, how much we should care about IRIS assessment impacts on jobs and the economy, and is there a better way for EPA to perform these assessments. These recommendations could be helpful as we think about more global issues affecting EPA.

I hope all Members will use this opportunity to understand the process, discuss the integrity of the basic science assessed at EPA, and appreciate how and when policy considerations converge in this process and their impact on jobs and the economy.


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