Congressional Science Policy Initiative

Committee hearing resource | Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Send in your questions to help Congress evaluate the future priorities of the Environmental Protection Agency

Engage, and take action! If you have a question or idea you think lawmakers should raise with witnesses during this hearing, or you would like to be a part of FAS’ community to contribute your expertise, kindly scroll down and submit via the form below.

In 2020, the world experienced a number of extreme weather events tied to climate change, including intense wildfires, record-breaking hurricanes, droughts, and massive storms and flooding. As we look toward 2021 and a new Administration, it is time to determine what the federal government can do to protect Earth’s climate.

Here’s your chance to inform the national policy discussion on this issue.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing to question Michael Regan, the nominee to the position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Committee wants to hear your thoughts on what the priorities should be for the EPA, including future research directions, changes to existing environmental policies or the introduction of new ones, and ways the federal government can mitigate climate change and its effects.

This website gives you an opportunity to tell Congress what issues should be discussed during this critical hearing. You can submit questions that lawmakers should ask the witness (sample questions below), personal stories about your experiences related to this issue, or your general thoughts on how Congress can address this issue.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing: Hearing on the Nomination of Michael S. Regan to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 at 2:00pm ET
Witnesses: Michael S. Regan, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Evidence-based sample questions lawmakers could ask witnesses. Please share yours for lawmakers.

More sample questions will be added as objective contributions are received from the expert community. Kindly submit your idea via the form below. Last updated Monday 2/1/2021.

Addressing pesticides that threaten the health of people and wildlife

Some pesticides in regular use in the US are considered a risk to people and wildlife, including bees and other pollinators. In recent years, the European Commission has disallowed the outdoor use of some of these pesticides.

In your view, does the EPA need to go further in addressing the risks of these types of pesticides (the so-called neonicotinoids)?

Disproportionate impacts of particulate pollution on different communities

Marginalized communities are often exposed to more particulate matter pollution than higher-resourced communities. These tiny particle pollutants are associated with health problems such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, diabetes, and neurological problems.

What, in your view, is the strategy EPA should use to monitor particulate matter pollutants in different neighborhoods, and what should be done to help communities that are more greatly impacted?

The effect of air pollution on crops

Studies have shown that air pollutants can have a negative effect on plant growth and their absorption of nutrients from the soil. Researchers suggest that pollution is likely causing yield losses between 5 percent and 12 percent for staple crops like rice, wheat, and soybeans.

What will the EPA do to reduce air pollutants and protect these crops?

Protecting the environment from greenhouse gas emissions

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were used in a wide range of common objects, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, and aerosols. They also damage the ozone layer, contribute to dangerous UV exposure, and accelerate climate change. Gases such as methane are also contributing to the warming of our planet.

In 1987, the U.S. signed on to the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals by 2030, and in 2015, the U.S. again pledged its willingness to mitigate climate change by signing on to the Paris Agreement, before the Trump administration withdrew from it.

During this new Administration, please explain what you see as the role of the EPA in controlling the emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases such as methane and HCFCs.

Using environmental models to protect communities

At the EPA, “environmental models are used to help guide research and policies” for things like air quality, climate change, and human health risks. 

In regard to environmental modeling, and applying the results of the models, what are the EPA’s strengths? What are its weaknesses? Are enough EPA environmental modeling efforts focused at the level of communities?

Contaminants of emerging concern

Over the past 30 years or so, studies have demonstrated how a variety of chemicals, industrial pollutants, and human by-products are making their way into the environment. Many are known as “contaminants of emerging concern,” and include medicines, personal care or household cleaning products, and lawn care and agricultural products.

What is your perspective on leveraging the powers of offices within the EPA to address these chemicals?

Using the best available science in EPA work

In early January, a rule was finalized which limits EPA from using scientific research backed by confidential medical and industry data, reversing years of standard data and research practices for the agency. This rule makes it difficult to develop scientifically sound environmental policy by eliminating EPA’s ability to use a significant fraction of good research. Being able to utilize as much data as possible is also important because rampant misinformation and misappropriation of science can harm our ability to take care of our environment.

As EPA Administrator, how would you ensure that the science you are utilizing in your role is accurate and up to date?

Addressing the burning of biomass to produce energy

Many have asserted that the burning of biomass, such as wood, is a carbon neutral source of energy. However, clearing sections of forest to obtain wood for burning can release more carbon into the atmosphere than would be saved, and the negative impacts from this can take decades to subside. In addition, producing and burning wood pellets, which is a growing industry in the southeastern U.S., can release as much or even more carbon dioxide than burning coal.

What will you do to ensure that EPA develops evidence-based policies regarding the burning of biomass that prioritize the health of the environment and our communities?

Indigenous researchers and environmental protection

The US faces many environmental challenges, from wildfires to invasive species. Perspectives from a diverse set of researchers are necessary to comprehensively address these challenges. But in the US, Native Americans are underrepresented in STEM fields. 

What is your perspective on the EPA’s role in encouraging the inclusion of Indigenous researchers – and Indigenous knowledge – in efforts to counter threats to the environment?

National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the Clean Air Act

The EPA recently decided not to adjust the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter and ozone. “Critics of these decisions claim EPA has ignored important scientific evidence linking health effects to air pollution.”

Do you believe that the National Ambient Air Quality Standards currently reflect the best available science? Please explain.

Planning for different scenarios of where pollution is generated

The purchase of electric cars is forecast to increase. As the transportation sector becomes electrified, there may be a scenario where the majority of pollution is produced from point sources, such as power plants that use fossil fuels. A significant portion of the US power grid will continue to be dependent on fossil fuels before the country can achieve 100% clean energy.

This could create more regional air quality issues. How should the EPA prepare for this possibility?

Your question could be here!

Your question could be here!

Science. Policy. Service. Progress.

The Congressional Science Policy Initiative (CSPI) is a nonpartisan effort to facilitate the engagement of scientists, engineers, technologists, and other experts with the US Legislative Branch to help produce evidence-based public policy.

If you have expertise in a data-driven discipline, join hundreds of specialists who are already taking action to provide critical information to Congress as part of the CSPI community.