A house under construction in Alamo Ranch. Photo by Scott Ball.
A house under construction in Alamo Ranch. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Editor’s Note: The Rivard Report recently published a letter from U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, addressed to David Lake, principal architect with Lake|Flato Architects.

The letter was in response to one Lake sent Smith after a hearing called “Making the EPA Great Again.”

Smith’s letter stated that his “preferred way to address climate change is through research and development and technology and innovations. This approach contrasts with government mandates, which are inefficient and ineffective and distort the incentives of the free market to solve the problem.”

Lake responded to Smith’s letter with the following:

Dear Congressman Smith,

Thank you for participating at the ribbon cutting for the new Witte Museum. I appreciate your continued commitment to our community.

As we discussed at the Witte, the EPA’s “Energy Star,” indoor air quality, and materials safety programs directly support the design and construction industry each and every day.

The proposed EPA budget eliminates funding for these programs and will severely impact the ability of engineers and architects to meet client demands, fulfill our contractual obligations, and carry out the duties of our licensure to protect the public.

Cities across the country require the use of these EPA energy benchmarking tools to optimize building energy efficiency and alleviate strain on electrical grids. Twenty-four U.S. cities and two states have adopted energy ordinances that rely upon “Energy Star” to function, including Washington, D.C., Orlando, Fla., Atlanta, Kansas City, Kan., Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City. These ordinances spur immediate and low-cost reductions in energy consumption, and provide the opportunity for increased government efficiency, job creation, as well as economic and environmental health.

Enclosed is a petition signed by more than 800 design firms, which specifically addresses each vital EPA program. Funding these EPA programs will ensure that our cities and our country will be strong and resourceful into the next century.

President Donald Trump’s proposal to shift resources away from climate research recalls the dark years during which industry led our environmental policy. From 1922-1970, firms such as Exxon (then Standard Oil), GM, and DuPont profited from adding lead to gasoline, while using junk science to obfuscate and ignore the alarming buildup of neurotoxins in our citizens and in the environment. The EPA was created as an essential check on industry.

William Ruckelshaus, administrator of the EPA under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, recently stated:

“The Environmental Protection Agency recognized that without a set of federal standards to protect public health from environmental pollution, states would continue to compete for industrial development by taking short cuts on environmental protection. The laws that the EPA administers create a strong federal-state partnership that has worked well for over 40 years.”

On March 29, you chaired a hearing on Climate Science. The prior week you announced that three of the four experts your committee selected will assert that climate change is not an urgent concern, and one of them claims climate change is a politically driven fabrication. The fourth expert is a climate researcher who advocates for the urgency of studying climate change. At the Heartland Institute‘s Climate Conference, you also said, “That’s why this hearing is going to be so much fun.”

I do not consider climate change to a be a laughing matter. Ninety percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that manmade climate change is accelerating. Here are just three reasons why climate research is urgently needed:

1. The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health – made of 400,000 members and one-half the doctors in the U.S. – say climate change is causing profound health problems in communities in every region of our nation.

2. “…We didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years … There is really only one way to save coral reefs, and by extension the oceans and the world, and that is to fight climate change … millions of people get their protein primarily from reef fish, and the loss of that food supply could become a humanitarian crisis.” – Terry Hughes, director of Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University

3. NASA’s satellite observations indicate a minimum 13.3% reduction in Arctic sea ice per decade. Based on photographs taken each September since 1979, there has been a 40% reduction in sea ice in 35 years.

On behalf of the 800 signatories of the EPA petition and the 93 employees of Lake|Flato, we urge you to pursue balanced funding for environmental policies. It is our moral obligation to current and future generations to preserve, protect, and defend our environment. The natural realm is instrumental to our human wellbeing and to our survival.


David C. Lake, FAIA

P.S. In your previous response to my letter, you stated that I must get my news from “a very biased liberal media.” I get my news from a wide range of publications including Science, Nature, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist. I do not agree with you that our citizens should get our facts from this White House, as you proclaimed from the floor of the House of Representatives.

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San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.