The Environment Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine options to improve the transparency of regulatory science used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to receive testimony on the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012). The bill, introduced by Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and cosponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), is the result of more than two years of investigative work by the Science Committee. It prohibits EPA from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations based upon scientific information, unless such information is publically available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and reproducibility.
Chairman Smith: "It's unfortunate that our nation's environmental policy has become one of the most contentious issues in Washington. But a discussion about the merits of any particular regulation is meaningless if the public cannot trust the underlying science. Americans impacted by EPA regulations have a right to see the data and determine for themselves if the agency's actions are based on sound science or a partisan agenda. Given the EPA's aggressive agenda and its willingness to play fast and loose with the law, the agency should be forced to live up to the claims of transparency it so readily espouses. The American people deserve the facts. And so does good policy."
Recent EPA and White House scientific integrity, regulatory, and open access policies support the bill's intent and the ideals of open science. Executive Order 13563 requires that regulations "be based upon the best available science." Similarly, President Obama's March 2009 Scientific Integrity Memo states that "[t]o the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking." Today's witnesses discussed these ideals.
Subcommittee Chairman Schweikert: "How do you have a civil society when our public, our leaders, the people around us, almost no one trusts our institutions anymore? How do you have a society and hold it together when we don't trust our government, we don't trust our agencies, we don't trust so much around us? A transparent, open government develops, hopefully, a faith with its population."