House committee passes two EPA science bills

House committee passes two EPA science bills
© Greg Nash

The House Science Committee on Thursday approved two bills to reform how the Environmental Protection Agency conducts scientific research. 

The committee, led by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), approved a bill requiring the EPA to publicly release scientific research it uses to write regulations. 

Smith’s bill is similar to legislation introduced and passed by the House in each of the last two Congresses. He said the legislation would end the EPA’s use of “secret” science and “ensure sound science is the basis for EPA decisions and regulatory actions.”

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

Members also approved legislation from Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) to overhaul the EPA’s Science Advisory Board by opening it up to new membership, requiring more information from its members and expanding public comment on its actions. 

“We must reaffirm the board’s independence so that the public can be confident policy decisions are not hijacked by a pre-determined political agenda,” he said. 

The committee approved Smith’s bill on a 17-12 vote; Lucas’s bill passed 19-14, with Democrats opposing both measures. 

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the committee’s top Democrat, said both bills would hurt the EPA’s ability to write rules without outside influence.

The Science Advisory Board bill is “a transparent attempt to slow down the regulatory process and stack science review boards with industry representatives,” she said. 

Smith’s bill, she added, is designed to “undermine the science that EPA can use in their work, and ultimately, make it easier to pollute in our country.”