Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012). The legislation requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to base its regulations on data that is public.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Costly environmental regulations should only be based upon data that is available to independent scientists and the public. However, the EPA does not adhere to this practice. Nearly every major air quality regulation from this administration has been justified by data that has been kept secret. This bill requires the EPA to base its decisions on information to which all scientists have access. This will promote sound science and confidence in the EPA decision making process. This bill ensures the transparency and accountability that the American people want and deserve."
The Secret Science Reform Act was introduced by Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and has received letters of support from over 80 scientists and experts, including the former head of the EPA Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and the former head of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. It also enjoys the support of 30 national and state trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufactures.
Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.): “The Secret Science Reform Act rules 'secret science' a condition of the past. Public policy should come from public data. Unfortunately, for far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country without public evidence to justify all their actions. This common-sense legislation forces the EPA to be transparent and accountable with their findings."
The Secret Science Reform Act requires that the EPA base its regulations on publically available and verifiable information without compromising protections for personal information.
A 2013 poll from the Institute of Energy Research found that 90 percent of Americans agree that studies and data used to make federal government decisions should be public. Provisions in the bill are consistent with White House policy, the data access provisions of major scientific journals, and the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Obama administration’s top science advisors. The Chair of EPA’s own Science Advisory Board testified that EPA’s advisors recommend “that literature and data used by EPA be peer-reviewed and made available to the public."
The Secret Science Reform Act affirms laws prohibiting the disclosure of confidential or proprietary information. The Act is not retroactive; it applies only to new, future regulations issued by the agency. The bill forges a new path forward embracing scientific integrity and open government.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): “Transparency and accountability should be a priority for every government agency—and the EPA is no exception. After the House passed our bill today, we are one step closer to finally changing the way things are done at the EPA. Since the American people are paying the price for these expensive regulations they deserve to see the science used to justify them."