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Letter from CRE to Congress Member Bliley

June 11, 1999

Honorable Tom Bliley, Chairman
Committee on Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115

Dear Chairman Bliley:

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) commends your continued interest in improving the quality of federal regulatory decisions. CRE has long advocated improved federal regulatory decision-making and supports the Commerce Committee's ongoing efforts.

In this regard, I write to applaud your May 20, 1999 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Lew urging OMB to issue certain regulations to ensure data quality. In particular, CRE supports your actions to ensure that OMB issues these regulations by September 30, 1999. As you suggest in your letter and other efforts, the public has every reason to expect federal agencies will employ the highest standards in acquiring, using and disseminating data as they act to protect the environment, public health, and safety.

I also applaud your letter of the same date to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Browner requesting that EPA clarify the scientific rationale for establishing a maximum contaminant level goal for chloroform under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Your letter requests that EPA respond to a series of very important questions about its scientific determinations and associated responsibilities under the Act. I urge you to persist in ensuring that EPA fully responds to these questions.

These are two very important federal agency activities involving data quality and risk assessment that we believe warrant investigation by your committee. As you move forward with these and other scientific and regulatory improvement efforts, CRE urges you also to include committee review of the Biennial Report on Carcinogens issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Report lists substances that HHS determines are "known" or "reasonably anticipated" human carcinogens and provides "profiles" of the supporting scientific data.

HHS is in the final stages of preparing its 9th Report on Carcinogens. Final decisions may be made as early as July 1999, with publication expected soon after. There are serious questions, however, about (1) the utility of the information in the report, (2) HHS's adherence to published listing criteria and procedures, (3) the scientific credibility and thoroughness of the reviews conducted (including the quality of the peer review process), (4) conflicts between agencies involved in the program, and (5) conformity to congressional intent and statutory directives.

The public and regulatory agencies relying on the Report on Carcinogens must be assured that its determinations and summaries of the associated scientific information are well founded and meet the standards of data quality for which you strive. CRE urges you to review the agency's efforts to date in producing the 9th Report and welcomes the opportunity to discuss this issue further with you or your committee staff.

Again, I applaud your recent letters to OMB and EPA and support your continued efforts to improve the quality of federal regulatory decisions and their scientific foundation, and the quality of information that agencies disseminate to the public.


Charles J. Fromm
Executive Director


cc: Nandan Kenkeremath, Counsel, Committee on Commerce