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CONGRESSIONAL HEARING TO EXAMINE THE USE OF PEER REVIEW TO ENSURE THE  USE OF SCIENTIFICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY SOUND DECISION MAKING
From the NWRA DAILY REPORTMarch 4, 2003

 
Contact:  Steve Hansen (Director of Communications)  (202) 225-7749
Email: Steve.Hansen@mail.house.gov
Justin Harclerode (Deputy Director of Communications)  (202) 226-8767
Email: Justin.Harclerod@mail.house.gov

       Washington, D.C. - Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency,
the Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other experts and interested parties will testify at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday to discuss peer review of scientific and technical products, such as studies, analyses, and models used to support agency decision-making.
         The hearing by the U.S. House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), is schedule to begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5th, in 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.  Live audio and video broadcasts of the hearing will be available at the Committee's website:          www.house/gov/transportation

Wednesday's Witness List

PANEL I
- Dr. Paul Gilman, Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, The Environmental Protection Agency
- Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, Department of the Interior
- Honorable R.L. Brownlee, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Lieutenant General Robert B. Flowers, Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

PANEL II
- Dr. Leonard Shabman, Resident Scholar, Resources for the Future, National Research Council
- Randall Lutter, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
- Christopher J. Brescia, President, Midwest Area River Coalition 2000
- Melissa Samet, Senor Director, Water Resources, American Rivers
- Deborah M. Brosnan, President, Sustainable Ecosystems Institute

Background Information
There have been many calls for independent peer review as a means of ensuring that agency decision-making is based on sound science and economics.  These recommendations have been developed by agencies themselves, by scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, and by interest groups.  In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recently placed an increased emphasis on peer review.

Federal agencies conduct peer reviews in different ways.  The Subcommittee will hear from EPA, the Department of the Interior, and the Corps of Engineers about how they review the scientific and technical products that support their decision-making.  In addition, the Subcommittee will hear recommendations from interested parties about how to improve the review processes of these agencies, including recommendations intended to apply to agency decision-making generally and recommendations intended to apply only to specific programs.

Environmental Protection Agency: Peer review of scientific and technical products that support decision-making at EPA are governed by a 1994 policy statement issued by former Administrator Carol Browner, a 1999 regulatory management guidance issued by former Acting Deputy Administrator Peter Robertson, as well as its December 2000 Peer Review Handbook, prepared by the Peer Review Advisory Group of EPA's Science Policy Council.

Department of the Interior: For implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Department of the Interior's (DOI) peer review policy is set forth in a July 1994 memorandum issued jointly by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS):  "Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act."  For ESA listing decisions, the policy requires independent review by three specialists.  For recovery plans the policy also requires independent review, but does not specify how many specialists are required for review.  The policy does not apply to other products developed under ESA, such as critical habitat designations or biological opinions.

Corps of Engineers: All Corps of Engineers projects are developed in accordance with the Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Resources Implementation Studies (P&G), published by the Water Resources Council in 1983.  Under the P&G, the Corps must evaluate national economic benefits, environmental quality benefits, regional economic development benefits, and other social effects.  The Chief of Engineers must recommend projects that maximize net national economic development benefits unless the Chief determines that an exception is appropriate based on other Federal, State, local, or international concerns.  Accordingly, under the P&G, Corps projects are subjected to extensive analyses to ensure that the project is in the federal interest and maximizes net benefits.  These analyses (and other products that support Corps project plans) are not required to be subject to external, independent peer review.

For additional information, access the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website at:     www.house.gov/transportation

 

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