House to vote on EPA ‘secret science’ bills

The House is planning to vote later this month on a pair of bills aimed at increasing transparency in the scientific process behind President Obama’s environmental rules.

One bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing any regulations whose scientific backing is not publicly available. The other would reform the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board to allow public participation in their proceedings and introduce additional peer review.

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) staff said in a notice Thursday that he would likely bring up the bills for a floor vote the week of Nov. 17, the week before Thanksgiving.

Republicans have long said that the EPA relies on “secret science” to justify its regulations and the agency does not allow public scrutiny of its research.

The EPA must go through various scientific steps before writing regulations, but the GOP charges that it is not transparent about that research.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy started to fight back against the allegations this year, saying in a speech that her agency relies “on real scientists to conduct research, and independent scientists to peer review it, and scientists who’ve spent a lifetime studying the science to reproduce it.”

The House Science Committee passed the bill on public availability of research in June and the bill on the advisory committee in July 2013.

Lawmakers are also scheduled the same week to vote on the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, which supporters say would reduce burdens for manufacturing facilities applying for air pollution permits.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), would require the EPA to be more timely in publishing notifications about updates to air quality standards and application procedures.