By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
BIRMINGHAM—On Wednesday the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secret Science Reform Act which would prohibit EPA from using studies that do not reveal all the details of the research. Representatives Martha Roby (R – Montgomery) and Mo Brooks (R – Huntsville) both voted for the legislation and released statements following the bill’s passage in the House.
Congressman Brooks said in a statement, “I’m pleased the House just passed H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act. I cosponsored and voted for this legislation to create more transparency within the EPA. H.R. 4012 will require transparency by the EPA concerning the data they use to create regulatory policies. We are required to abide by these regulations, so the data behind them should be public.
Congresswoman Martha Roby said in her own statement, “Why should the EPA be allowed to impose rules based on *secret* science? The public deserves to see the data and studies that EPA regulations are based on, and that’s why I today voted for the Secret Science Reform Act, H.R. 4012.”
Rep. Roby continued, “A poll conducted by the Institute for Energy Research shows that 90 percent of Americans questioned agreed that “when the federal government makes decisions based on studies and data,” that information should be made public. The Secret Science Reform Act will do just that, requiring the release of any data used to write EPA regulations. In doing so, this piece of legislation will increase transparency and rigorous scientific study. Isn’t it time the EPA shared its research with the people its regulations affect? I certainly think so.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert (R from Arizona). The synopsis reads: “Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 – Amends the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is specifically identified and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results. Includes as a covered action a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment, criteria document, standard, limitation, regulation, regulatory impact analysis, or guidance.”
Most Democrats however are opposed to the legislation. Only 4 Democrats voted for the bill, while only one Republican voted against.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D from Texas) wrote in an op-ed published by The Hill: “H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Act of 2014, is an insidious attack on the EPA’s ability to use the best science to protect the health of Americans and the environment. Republicans will claim that H.R. 4012 increases EPA’s transparency, but in reality it is an attempt to prevent EPA from using the best science to protect public health and the environment. This bill would prohibit EPA from relying on scientific studies that involve personal health information or other data that is legally protected from public disclosure.”
Rep. Johnson continued, “Any effort to limit the scope of science that can be considered by EPA does not strengthen scientific integrity, but instead undermines it. It would also increase the likelihood of litigation because EPA’s actions would be based on inadequate and incomplete science, leaving any regulation open to legal challenges which would delay the implementation of important public health protections. The true intent of H.R. 4012 is to delay EPA action because that is what industrial polluters want. H.R. 4012 is not only bad for public health, but it is also bad for the taxpayer. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill as reported would cost American taxpayers as much as $1 billion dollars over four years.”
President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation if it comes to his desk.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.