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Science Committee Wants to Restrict the EPA's Use of Science

Come again?

by Susan Rinkunas
Mar 31 2017, 9:19pm

Bill Clark / Getty Images

On Wednesday, the House voted 228-194 in favor of HR 1430, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act or, simply, the HONEST Act. Sounds good, doesn't it—I mean, who doesn't want honest science? But the bill is hilariously misguided. What it actually does is prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from writing any regulations based on scientific research that isn't publicly available. That's right, unless the research has been released to the public, the EPA can't use it at all.

Texas Representative Lamar Smith, who wrote the bill and serves as chairman of the House science committee, wants to restrict the EPA's use of science. And 227 other lawmakers voted for it.

Smith, who is a climate-change skeptic, told the House the bill would ensure that "sound science is the basis for EPA decisions and regulatory actions." He continued with a statement that can only be described as stunning:

"The days of 'trust-me' science are over. In our modern information age, federal regulations should be based only on data that is available for every American to see and that can be subjected to independent review. That's called the scientific method."

First: Uh, no, it's not. Second: Only a fraction of peer-reviewed scientific research is published in full. Preventing the EPA from issuing regulations because the papers they want to use weren't submitted to open-access journals is a massive overreach.

The Committee's top Democrat, Eddie Bernice Johnson, also of Texas, pointed out that the EPA doesn't own research conducted by other groups and has no right to release it, so this law would just hamstring the agency.

"In reality, this bill isn't about science. It's about undermining public health and the environment," she said. Sounds about right.

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