Environmental Protection Agency faces Republican reform, Boca representative will get second swing

Republicans want science to be more “transparent,” White House threatens veto


Photo by the EPA.

Reimy Benitez, Asst. Copy Desk Chief

Making its way to the House of Representatives for consideration is Bill H.R. 1030, dubbed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015. If passed, it will prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from making assessments or passing regulation “based on science that is not transparent or reproducible.”

For all intents and purposes, if the science isn’t completely clear and “reproducible,” it can’t be used for consideration or for enactment of regulation. The text implies that if scientific data can’t be interpreted by the average person, it is therefore unclear.

The bill text states that all new considerations or proposals must be “based on the best available science … [must be] specifically identified,” and must be “publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

Representative Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is Chairman of the Science Committee and sponsor for the Secret Science Reform Act.
Representative Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is Chairman of the Science Committee and sponsor for the Secret Science Reform Act.

Chairman of the Science Committee Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is the bill’s primary sponsor. Smith claims in a statement that the “days of just trust me ‘science’ are long past. In our modern information age, federal regulations should be based only upon data that is available for independent review.”

There are a total of 28 co-sponsors, consisting entirely of Republican representatives. And the bill is not sitting well with the Democratic minority of the committee — 17 Democrats and 22 Republicans.

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, is among those. She has made a statement against the bill claiming that it is “… the most partisan, most ill-considered piece of legislation in [her] 22 years of service in [the] committee.”

She goes on to explain that “the EPA does not use ‘secret science’ to conduct its business,” and that “the bill is the Majority’s attempt to prevent the EPA from using high-quality science …. Because the science is clear.”

She alludes to industries who have funded scientists and lobbyists to “muddle the message on the science … to prevent their products from being regulated.”

She’s addressing industries like the tobacco industry. “When the Majority held a hearing on this legislation last Congress, every Majority witness at the hearing had significant ties to the tobacco industry. It’s really as if the Majority is not even trying to hide their true motivations,” stated Congresswoman Johnson.

This is the bill’s second attempt in Congress — a previous version was submitted to the 113th Congress in 2014 and was passed by the House, then struck down by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

However, the fate of the bill could be very different in the 114th Congress now that the Democrats are a minority in both houses. So different that the White House has released a statement making it clear that “If the President were presented with H.R. 1030, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Before the bill makes it to the Oval Office, however, it will have to pass through the House, where Boca Raton’s own representative — Democrat Ted Deutch — voted against the bill in its first run through Congress in 2014.

Representative Deutch will now get his second swing at the bill as it comes through the House floor for consideration as early as this coming week.