Republicans resume assault on ‘secret science’ 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Senate and House Republicans today resurrected legislation aimed at boosting transparency in the science that U.S. EPA uses in rulemaking.

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said their “Secret Science Reform Act of 2015” would compel EPA to make its science more publicly available.

The House last year passed similar legislation in a 237-190 vote that was mostly along party lines (E&ENews PM, Nov. 19, 2014).

“Costly regulations should not be created behind closed doors and out of public view,” Smith said in a statement. “The data that underpins EPA regulations should be available to the public so that independent scientists have a fair chance to verify findings.”

Text of the bill was not immediately available, but last year’s iteration would have prohibited EPA from finalizing rules that are based on science that isn’t “transparent or reproducible.” The legislation would have also compelled EPA to make public all the science, data and models used to shape rules before it can take action.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has pledged to take on EPA regulations in his committee, expressed “strong support” for the legislation.

“The real test for sound science is transparency and reproducibility,” Inhofe said. “Especially at a time when the American people are facing costly and burdensome EPA regulations, underlying science must be scientifically sound and unbiased.”

Last November, eight Democrats voted in support of the legislation on the House floor, but many more rose in objection to it during floor debate, calling it a misunderstanding of how scientists operate. Democratic critics also said it would violate health privacy laws because it would require health data to be made public in order for it to be used in shaping regulations.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and more than 40 other scientific organizations last year opposed the bill.