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Congress in brief.

On August 19, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded to a subpoena issued by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) to force the agency to relinquish the underlying data from two studies used to inform regulations under the Clean Air Act. One of them was a seminal study known as the Harvard Six-Cities Study, which followed a cohort of over 8,000 participants for 17 years to assess the effects of air pollution. In the late 1990s this study came under congressional scrutiny when it was used as the basis for strengthening air quality standards, and some members of Congress called for access to the underlying data. The battle over the study's underlying data led to an independent assessment conducted by the Health Effects Institute and a change to OMB Circular A-110 governing federal grants to allow for access to certain research data that is used in federal regulations.

This latest debate over access to research data included a set of heated letters between the committee's ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (DTX) and Chairman Smith. Although no details were provided about the type of documentation provided by the EPA to the committee, on September 3 Smith issued a letter in response stating that the agency had not provided any new data and hence stood in default of the subpoena. The new deadline for complying with the subpoena is now September 30.

On September 18, a House Science, Space and Technology Committee panel held a hearing on methamphetamine (meth) addiction. Witnesses included the head of a neuroimaging lab, an epidemiologist studying trends in substance abuse, and the director of an addiction research center. In connection with the hearing, Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) stated that the National Science Foundation "will play an integral role towards a more complete understanding of this problem. Hypothesis-based data-driven social science research can be used to understand the behavior science behind addiction."

On September 18, the House passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761). The bill would authorize the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to enhance mineral exploration and streamline the process for receiving mining permits for rare-earth minerals and other minerals necessary for national defense, economic security, and to support the nation's energy infrastructure.

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Title Annotation:FROM THE HILL
Publication:Issues in Science and Technology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2013
Previous Article:House holds climate hearing.
Next Article:Reports and publications.

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