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Ranking Members Johnson, Bonamici, and Beyer Request Investigation into EPA Interference with Environmental Scientist’s Testimony to Committee

Jun 26, 2017
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Democratic leaders of the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General (IG) yesterday requesting that he investigate potentially illegal attempts by senior EPA officials, particularly Ryan T. Jackson, the EPA’s Chief of Staff, to interfere with Democratic witness, Dr. Deborah Swackhamer’s, testimony to the Science Committee last month. The Members also sent a separate letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt outlining their concerns regarding this attempted interference.

The letter was signed by Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Science, Space & Technology Committee; Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment; and Don Beyer (D-VA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight.

The letter to EPA IG Aruthur Elkins asked his office to examine several questions, including whether the attempted interference with the testimony of Dr. Deborah Swackhamer to the Science Committee by EPA officials violated any federal regulations or laws, and whether staff in the EPA’s Office of the Administrator have received training regarding the rights of individuals to communicate with Congress.

In the letter to EPA IG Elkins, the Members wrote: “The ability of both federal officials and private citizens to freely communicate with Congress without fear of intimidation, interference, or reprisal is a bipartisan issue that is critical to ensuring good governance and uncovering issues of potential waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement. Ensuring that both private and federally-funded scientists are able to speak freely about the scientific merits of their research, as well as management issues within their agencies, programs, or organizations, is also critical to Congress’s ability to carry out our oversight responsibilities. We appreciate your role as the EPA’s watchdog to ensure that federal scientists are not silenced, and we trust that you will keep a close eye on these issues.”

115th Congress