Republicans to EPA: Reveal 'secret science'

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday pressed the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to reveal the “secret” scientific data behind controversial decisions.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, said the EPA has "raised suspicion" by not being open and transparent about its regulatory process.

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"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," Smith said at the hearing.

The science committee last week introduced legislation that would prevent the EPA from issuing new regulations without first disclosing the scientific research considered when drafting rules. The bill, introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), is known as the Secret Science Reform Act.

Republicans say the bill would increase transparency and allow for scientists outside the agency to independently verify the results.

"Everyone agrees that we need to protect the environment," said Smith, who spoke at the hearing even though he is not on the subcommittee. "But it should be done in a way that is transparent and honest."

Democrats on the committee called the bill a ploy by Republicans to prevent the EPA from issuing regulations.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), the ranking member on the panel, said the bill is "overly broad" and would "prevent the EPA from doing its job."

"We share the common goal of transparency, but the issue is how do we accomplish that," Bonamici said.

Ellen Silbergeld, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, testified that requiring the EPA to reveal the scientific information it uses to make rules is "unlikely to advance our confidence in the results of a study."

"We need more information, and specifically we need more information disclosure from industry," Silbergeld said. "I call on them to tear down every wall that hides critically important information that is generated and held by industry."

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) said the EPA has used "secret science" to push through controversial regulations for coal-fired power plants. "When the EPA uses secret science to justify regulations, everyone is worse off," he said.

Bridenstine also mocked the EPA's attempt to regulate wood stoves.

"My friend at the EPA has assured me that if you like your wood stove, you can keep it," he joked.