The U.S. House unanimously approved a bipartisan amendment to the red tape reduction bill that would require federal agencies to make regulatory decisions based on sound scientific principles.
The amendment, co-authored by U.S. Reps. Don Manzullo (R-IL) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), was approved unanimously by the House last night and attached to the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act (HR 4078). The House approved HR 4078 this morning.
Manzullo's amendment was inspired by a faulty decision by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to list styrene as a "possible carcinogen" based on non-scientific principles. The ruling threatens a large part of the American plastics industry, which would not face a similarly hostile environment in Europe or Canada.
"HHS acted without transparency. There was no formal procedure. They did not provide adequate opportunities for private entities to have input. They ignored certain scientific studies and, as a result, came to a different conclusion about styrene than other regulators around the world, such as those in the European Union or Canada," Rep. Manzullo said. "The process is not fair. Moreover, if this ruling stands, we could lose the particular industry that employs 800,000 Americans and those jobs would move outside our border."
Rep. McIntyre stated, "We need to do all we can to provide regulatory relief to businesses and industry. Over burdensome and unjustified regulations are a roadblock to creating jobs and economic growth. This bill would make sensible and needed adjustments to our nation's regulatory policy, and I am pleased to see it pass the U.S. House."
The amendment simply gives teeth to a 3-year-old Obama Administration policy that was never implemented but called for federal agencies to follow scientific integrity guidelines. The Manzullo amendment would direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy to require all federal agencies to develop guidelines to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of scientific information used by federal agencies. It requires appropriate peer review, the disclosure of scientific studies used in making decisions, and an opportunity for stakeholder input. It also requires federal agencies to give greatest weight to information based on reproducible data that is developed in accordance with the scientific method. Further, it deems agency actions that do not follow such procedures to be arbitrary and subject to challenge by affected stakeholders.