(Brendan Clarey, Liberty Headlines) A bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday seeks to dial back the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to enact regulations without reputable science behind them.
The “Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017,” otherwise known as the HONEST Act, prevents EPA from using disreputable scientific studies by holding it to increased accountability.
Studies used for regulations would have to be referenced specifically and released, while protecting sensitive information such as trade secrets and confidential information from public disclosure.
According to the text of the Bill, the purpose is “to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.”
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Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee, introduced the bill to combat questionable studies which lead to policies that hurt the economy.
“The EPA has a long history of using questionable and secretive science to justify its actions, often leading to burdensome new regulations that hurt businesses and destroy jobs,” Rounds said in a press release Tuesday.
“When a regulation is implemented, the agency should be able to justify it publicly so we all have a chance to understand its impact. Sound, reliable science is vital to helping us make important policy decisions that impact the health of American families and their livelihoods,” Rounds added. “The HONEST Act would hold the EPA accountable for its decisions and bring an additional layer of transparency and accountability to the regulatory process.”
The Act lists particular guidelines for the scientific studies that affect the regulations of the agency.
“The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is the best available science; specifically identified; and publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results, except that any personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, shall be redacted prior to public availability.”
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Similar legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
“Because American taxpayers foot the bill for EPA regulations, they have a right to see the data that justifies EPA decisions,” Smith said. “The HONEST Act requires EPA to base new regulations on sound, publicly available science, which will allow EPA’s data to be independently reviewed.”
Some, however, disagree with the logic behind the limitations that the bill places on the agency. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), a ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, stood against the measure earlier this year.
“Under the current legislation, the EPA would have to publicly distribute any scientific data relied upon for a covered action. EPA could withhold from public distribution items containing trade secrets or personal information,” Rep. Johnson said. “However, under this bill anyone could then access this sensitive data after signing a confidentiality agreement with the EPA.”
“Since the EPA is not authorized to issue confidentiality agreements for third party researchers, this legislation would have the same effect as the Secret Science Reform Act: limiting the ability of the EPA to use the best science,” she said.Click here for reuse options!
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