Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2013 (H.R.1422), introduced by former Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah). The bill makes changes to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to enhance public participation, improve the process for selecting expert advisors, expand transparency requirements and limit non-scientific policy advice. The bill passed by a vote of 229-191.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The EPA has an extensive track record of twisting the science to justify their actions. Behind the scenes, however, there is a review process that can provide a critical check on the agency’s conclusions. The EPA’s Science Advisory Board was intended to provide a meaningful, balanced, and independent assessment of the science that supports regulations. Unfortunately, this vision is not being realized. The EPA undermines the Board’s independence and prevents it from providing advice to Congress. As a result, the valuable advice these experts can provide is wasted. At a time when the agency is pursuing the most aggressive regulatory agenda in its 44 year history, it is critical that the Board function as intended."
Established by Congress in 1978, the SAB plays an important role in reviewing the scientific foundation of EPA regulatory decisions and advising the agency broadly on science and technology-related matters.
Rep. Stewart: “Through the EPA, the Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing costly regulations that impact nearly every sector of the American economy. These rules should be based on sound scientific assertions and conclusions. It’s critical that we have a balanced panel of experts operating in an open and transparent way. This bill improves that process in key areas."
To address current deficiencies in EPA’s scientific advisory process, H.R. 1422:
- Strengthens public participation and public comment opportunities.
- Improves the make-up of SAB and its sub-panels by reinforcing peer review requirements regarding balance and independence. The bill also reduces potential conflicts of interest by requiring enhanced disclosure of members’ financial relationships relevant to board activities.
- Requires opportunities for dissenting panelists to make their views known.
- Requires communication of uncertainties in scientific findings and conclusions.
- Limits non-scientific policy advice and recommendations, while requiring explicit disclosure of such advice when SAB feels compelled to provide it.
- Reiterates that the EPA’s SAB is to be fully and independently responsive to the Congress
The provisions in this bill draw upon recent recommendations from the Keystone Center’s Research Integrity Roundtable, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and other stakeholders, as well as relevant testimony received by the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology during the 112th and 113th Congresses.
H.R. 1422 has received support from 32 organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Farm Bureau.