Senators vote to block EPA’s use of ‘secret science’

A Senate committee voted Tuesday to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from using ‘secret science’ to back its regulations.

The vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee came after the GOP-controlled House repeatedly approved the bill. It previous was stalled in the Democratic-majority Senate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Under the measure, which President Obama has threatened to veto if the Senate passes it, the EPA would only be allowed to use scientific studies whose detailed results are posted publicly online.

“EPA has a long history of relying on science that was not created by the agency itself. This often means that the science is not available to the public, and therefore cannot be reproduced and verified,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGoonies, Pokemon and ‘transsexual shake’ speak to raucous scene at convention GOP passes rules vote over outcry from Trump opponents Overnight Healthcare: Feds defend ObamaCare's affordability MORE (R-Wyo.), the bill’s sponsor, said at a committee hearing.

“What this bill is trying to accomplish is to make sure that we strengthen the scientific information the EPA uses to make regulations, guidance and assessments,” he continued.

But Democrats said the bill would unnecessary cut in half the studies that the EPA can use, because research is often uses proprietary, health-related or otherwise restricted data.

“This bill would force them to use whatever science was available after legal challenges generate from the broad language of this legislation,” said Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense FCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking Markey floats bill bringing internet to developing world MORE (D-Mass.)

“We should be working to strengthen the scientific information the EPA uses to protect public health and improve air and water quality, not limiting it, as this bill does.”

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCalif. Dem touts her 'badass' sister's Senate run The Trail 2016: One large crack in the glass ceiling Dem suggests race factored into Obama Senate endorsement MORE (D-Calif.) said the bill is “insane. It’s just a joke.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called it “laughable.”

The panel voted against a pair of amendments from Markey that would have replaced the public access provision with disclosures about the funding behind research or a peer-review requirement.

It approved by voice vote a Boxer amendment to disapprove of policies that prohibit state employees from using terms like “climate change” and “global warming.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have been accused of instituting such policies in certain state agencies.