Mike Rounds introduces bill to quash ‘secretive science’

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, September 15, 2017

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) has introduced a companion version of a controversial House-passed bill that would bar U.S. EPA from issuing new regulations unless the underlying science is “transparent or reproducible.”

EPA has long used “questionable and secretive science” to justify rules that hurt businesses, Rounds, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a news release yesterday announcing the bill’s introduction.

“When a regulation is implemented,” he said, “the agency should be able to justify it publicly so we all have a chance to understand its impact.”

Like its House counterpart, H.R. 1430, Rounds’ measure would require online posting of research data underlying new regulations, with exceptions for personally identifiable information, trade secrets and financial data.

The bill, titled the “Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act,” won House approval in March (E&E Daily, March 30). Similar legislation cleared the chamber in both 2014 and 2015 under the label “Secret Science Reform Act” but then died in the Senate in the face of Obama administration veto threats.

While President Trump, a fierce EPA critic, would probably welcome the chance to sign this year’s version, the bill is again sure to run into resistance from Senate Democrats.

Besides reiterating the Obama administration’s prior concerns that the proposal would undercut EPA’s ability to protect public health, EPW Committee ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) this spring questioned whether agency leaders sought to bury information on the bill’s potential implementation costs (E&E Daily, April 5).

Rounds is the chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight. Co-sponsoring his bill, which a spokeswoman said yesterday did not yet have an assigned number, are EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee’s immediate past chairman.