(Washington, DC) House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-TX), Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Jay Obernolte (R-CA), and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Max Miller (R-OH), sent letters to administration officials expressing serious concerns over a recently proposed rule by NASA, the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration regarding greenhouse emissions.
Under the proposed rule, all government contractors are ordered to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and major contractors must develop emission reduction targets to be validated and approved by the international non-governmental organization known as the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi).
“The Science Committee has grave concerns that these requirements would have detrimental consequences for our national security and mission readiness,” the members wrote. “It’s unclear why government agencies are unable to independently validate emission reduction targets for their own contractors and would instead delegate such responsibilities to an international entity outside of our government’s supervision and whose loyalties and mission do not align with those of the United States. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR) must explain its reasoning for inserting this requirement into the proposed rule and for arbitrarily selecting SBTi to both set emission reduction targets and validate compliance with those same targets.”
SBTi has recently come under scrutiny due to potential conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and has even been accused of manipulating their metrics to make it appear as though certain companies were doing more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than they actually were.
“Alarmingly, the federal government is not actively reviewing SBTi’s processes and methodologies to ensure sound scientific practices are being followed,” they wrote. “The federal government is also failing to monitor SBTi to ensure foreign actors are not influencing the group to harm the U.S. or other countries. There is strong evidence that foreign actors are engaging in this type of misinformation.”
The letter further emphasizes disconnect between the goals of SBTi and the United States, noting SBTi currently does not allow oil and gas companies to submit proposals for science-based targets. “This would imply that if this proposed regulation is enacted, companies specializing in oil and gas may not even be able to submit a proposal and, as a result, would no longer be able to do business with the government unless a waiver was granted.”
The Committee members requested that FAR and the other departments involved explain their reasoning for this requirement and answer questions over the accuracy of SBTi’s methods by no later than March 22, 2023.